Original article and images from Gebrauchsgraphik, 3, 1963
There is no doubt that the majority of qualified ad-men base their publicity on psychology in an attempt to analyse and predict human reactions. The publicity media are regarded as carriers of emotional appeal which are to exert a subliminal influence by bypassing the rational and conscious criticism of the public. There is reason to doubt the validity of the models and systems of human attitudes and reactions, which were devised for this purpose. Above all there is the question whether these attempts to trigger a sudden, emotional impulse to buy do not also create vague and diffuse side-effects. Moreover all of these approaches – despite of the careful planning and initative characterizing this type of systematic publicity campaigns • – remain entirely passive in one respect.
In the last analysis these methods represent not so much the active exertion of a certain influence on the public but rather an ad-man’s calculation of the potential reactions of the public. Finally it is quite evident that this sort of advertising is not intended to create values but rather to exploit factors which are called • values. What is exploited here, for instance, are the – positive emotional values • hidden in conventions. standards and rigid complexes of ideas. This sort of planning occasionally imposes very marked limitations on the graphic artist. How often is he forced to improve and embellish other people’s ideas. Fortunately, we also find the opposite case, such as here the ads for the Stuttgarter Nach- richten, • a leading daily news-paper in Sotz-Western Germany.
The graphic designer had to create a series of ads whose new publicity effects were to confirm or to accentuate the already existing • image • of the paper. In this case, the planning was not based on a would-be psychological analysis of the reading public. It is, incidentally, worthy of note that the editorial parts of the – Stuttgarter Nachrichten – are printed in sanserif types, a deliberate attempt to abandon old conventions for the sake of a matter-of-fact and current impression. The ads were entrusted to the graphic designer Kapitzki of Stuttgart who was chosen because of the objective and constructive qualities of his work.
He designed a series of two-colour ads, eight variations of a given subject which were also to be used as news-stand posters. The composition is very clear and readable. Three blocks of text: theme, running commentary and slogan, are contrasted with two pictorial elements, a large square in the centre and a smaller one below. The two pictures explain the theme. The large surfaces carry either the abstraction of phenomena or their concretization. In other words: the graphic designer used the means of representation as distinct symbols which have no meaning when they are isolated. They are, however, functionally arranged SO that, in their sum, they form a pictorial idiom, a syntax full of meaning and expressive force. In all cases, they embody the essential, the general. They are an abstract symbol of the theme, a symbol which is applicable to technical processes and functions as well as to the human situations created by the communal life of groups, of nations and contrasting categories of existence. The smaller pictorial surfaces mostly show pictures and details of the real visible world. The artist uses them to – make sure • that the symbolic compositions are understood, they are as it were an anecdotic explanation of the various phenomena.
Kapitzki managed to create an unusually consistent and clear entity. This series confirms my conviction that we still have an inexhaustible wealth of ideas to draw from. Those who find such – ideas – and know how to use them can afford to renounce too many things: to gimmick to the whole array of insincere arguments and not last of all to all those attempts to manipulate human reactions which are the immediate result of a would-be psychological analysis of the public.