Friday, March 20, 2009

Big Readership with 10% Balloons!

I'm going to delay describing the other obscure strip I found so I can post this unique item, re-discovered while excavating my computer room. It's from a 92-page, tabloid-sized softcover book called ADvisory Service for Students of Advertising. On the first page is "Copyright 1954 by Thomas E. Maytham, Publisher, Westport, Connecticut." There's no other information about who produced the book.

An introduction positions the magazine-like volume as a way for students of advertising to understand how real ad campaigns are created. The remainder of the slick-paper book comprises full-color spreads featuring case histories of numerous national ad campaigns: Coca Cola, Bufferin, Westclox...and Vaseline Hair Tonic. On the left page is a detailed description of the thinking and research that went into creating the campaign; on the right is a sample of a finished ad. Credits are given for agencies, art directors, even copywriters...but never, ever artists.

The star of the show for me is the final case history: selling Vaseline with Rusty and Dusty comic strips. I scanned the article so you can read it for yourself. It's a fascinating nuts-and-bolts piece, brimming with statistics like "When the total number of balloons occupies less than 10% of the total area of the comic strip, the advertisements fall more often in the high [readership] groups."
Another intriguing statistic maintains that Rusty and Dusty "leads the list of the ten best-read comic strips, with an average 'Men Noted' of 35% and 'Read Most' of 31%."

I don't have the eye for ad agency comics artists that some other bloggers do, so I have no idea who inked the strip. But based on the caveman in panel 2 and, especially, the typical "sock" scene in panel 6, I'd bet dollars to donuts Mike Sekowsky had a hand in the penciling.

In conclusion, I direct you fellow strip artists out there to heed point number 6: "Two or more balloons in this [first] panel may discourage reading appreciably." You've been warned!

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