by John Capone, Nov 3, 2008, 3:47 PM
Publishing can be a bloody business. A passage in the recently released doorstop from Taschen Books, A History of Advertising, tells the story of how Leo Burnett brought a little extra gore into art directors' lives. In 1940 the company won the account of The American Meat Institute. After the win (its first with a million-dollar budget), three of the agency's staffers drove coast-to-coast in the Leo Burnett truck to determine the best way to get their countrymen to gnash their incisors. The resulting print campaign was designed to be compelling enough to win the hearts and stomachs of a nation distracted by war, placing red photos by legendary food photographer Harney Isham Williams against a deep red background. "What would happen if you put a piece of red meat on a red background?" asked Leo Burnett. "This was inherent drama," he said. "It just intensified the red concept and the virility we were trying to express about meat." Some of the ads again and again repeated the word "Meat" as a headline, with feverish obsession. From 1944 to 1947, Burnett ran the ads in newspapers and magazines, printed in all their scarlet glory, with no white frame around them: "full-bleed" - the origin of the now familiar printing term.