ePoster Gallery 1/2022
The tendency to assign human characteristics to other living beings is shown in all the poster categories. On the posters shown, the animals often take the leading role, or at least an important supporting role. In the promotional slogan, the presumed character traits of the animal in question are linked, more or less directly, with a product, an event or a political message. Mischievous, playful, anthropomorphised or provoking disgust – the animals are put centre stage on the posters presented here. They often address us, the viewer, directly, enthusiastically recommend the product to us and try to reach us emotionally.
Here we talk to Nico Lazúla, archivist for the poster collection at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, in a brief interview.
The exhibition opens with a butterfly advertising sun cream. What’s the background to this?
At the start of the 20th century, tanned skin was still associated with the stigma of working on the land, and therefore looked down upon. It wasn’t until industrialisation took hold that copious amounts of sunbathing became popular. A paradigm shift took place in relation to suntanned skin, and the cosmetic industry reacted to the dangers of sunbathing with products like Hamol Ultra. The butterfly in this advertisement represents bliss, pleasure and the warmer time of year.
Animals are frequently chosen as a subject for poster design. Why is that?
The character traits associated with the animals elicit a response from viewers according to the «attract or repel» principle. Basically, they rely on the cuteness factor. It’s even got a name – «cute marketing». The aim is to elicit positive feelings in the potential customers and encourage them to purchase the product or take action.
To emphasise the message, animals are also often used in political posters, whether they are used as a symbol, such as the greedy, repugnant rat with no regard for law, order and property, or the many-armed octopus, which, in a poster by Exem, has become the symbol of threatening and destructive capitalism.
Does the snarling bulldog represent a counter-example of this «cute marketing»?
This image, which suggests that the blood-red bulldog is about to attack the next person it comes across, is really unusual and is a clear counter-example. This poster by Thomas Theodor Heine from 1896 does not make it immediately clear, either from the picture or from the text, what it’s advertising.
Simplicissimus was a weekly satirical, combative magazine launched at the end of the 19th century, which mirrored the tendencies of the time and criticised the hypocritical bourgeois morals of state and church power.