Inthe remoteness of a cold winter night, a humble yet warm cabin is covered insnow. A poised and saturated royal blue background of the night sky, withnuances of twinkling stars relays a beautiful contrast of color with theslightly off angle and centralized hero image of a warmly colored bottle ofapricot liqueur. “Cordially Yours” (figure 1) was published byThe American Distilling Co. of Pekins,Illinois in c.
1940. Although”Cordially Yours” utilizes an array of design elements including excellent useof color, illustration, uniform layout, and hierarchy of type, all fulfilling abeautiful ascetic, beneath the surface, lies a mind game scheme to trap theAmerican consumer. Using the poster as a case study, I will explore consumer psychologyand how Cordially Yours epitomizes systematic societal conditioning forcommercial gain.Althoughon the surface, Cordially Yours holdsa beautiful narrative portrayed in an engaging illustration, the use of warmand cool colors creates an accessible polarity within the piece, lending muchsuccess to the typographical hierarchy and in evoking an emotional response inthe consumer. The role reversal of colored type and the extension of color fromsubjects to type, contribute to the aesthetic cohesiveness.
“Cordially yours”is in a yellow, bold, and elegant script font, matching the warmth of thebottle while simultaneously contrasting the night sky. The largest type, “Piping Rock” is in a bold,fat-face type on top of the white snowy ground. It is in blue, imitating theprominent night sky, while drawing your eye to it due to it contrasting the coldwhite snow. The snow covers much of the background implying it is winter, whichis often associated with the feelings of coldness and sadness. The warm orangecolored liqueur bottle is the hero image.
It implies that it will warm you ormake you feel happy during winter or while your feeling sad. Although thehumble cabin is cold and covered in snow on the outside, it is warm and cozy onthe inside. Warm light peaks through the door and window, mimicking the colorof the bottle. It is a reflection of the effect of drinking this particularbrand of alcohol and the effects of alcohol in general. Althoughthe designer is unknown, the American Distilling Company understood the natureof consumption or the nature of the consumer and deployed these psychologicaltheories in Cordially yours.
Factorssuch as situational influences, demographics, social status, and emotions all affectconsumer behavior. Situational influences are circumstances that ta point intime influences a consumer’s buying decisions. A situational influence that isapplicable is temporal aspects, such as weather conditions. The environment in Cordially yours is during a cold andsnowy winter. So during wintertime, the consumer will be more inclined topurchase the alcohol because it is an environmental reflection of the visualadvertisement. Social status is the cultural structure rankings of peopleaccording to value such as, source of income, education, and occupation. The snow-covered cabin evokes a feeling of humility,which if the target audience was middle and lower class consumers, they wouldmost likely feel more associated and be more prone to purchase.
Takingadvantage of consumer emotions provides an opportunity to make sales. Itprovides product positioning, sales presentation and advertisement furtherstrengthening the companies branding campaigns. “Cross-culturally, the most highly favored color is verysaturated blue,” says StevePalmer, professor at theUniversity of California. That color is favored because it’s associated withthings that are almost all good—a deep clean lake, a clear sky or a beautifulsapphire Apruebo, Dr. Roxel A. AppliedConsumer Psychology. First ed.
Manila: Rex Book Store, 2005.Textbookreferencing Freudian personality theories relating to consumer psychology.Useful for analyzing average consumer’s psychology.Ault, Alicia. “HowDo Colors Affect Our Moods?” Smithsonion.
com. December 15, 2015. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian-how-do-colors-affect-our-moods-180957504/.
Article that examines color psychology. Useful for analyzing the emotionaleffect of color in “Cordially Yours”. Thesaturated blue sky in Cordially yourscreates positive feelings in the consumer, generating a positive associationwith the brand and type of alcohol advertised.Similar aesthetic formulas and consumerpsych theories were employed in Cheret’s Fleur de Lotus (figure 2) andin Lucian Bernhard’s, Bosch (figure 3). Cordiallyyours and Fleur de Lotus sharethe same layout guidelines called the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is used in creating designs, photographsand paintings. Aligning a subject with it createsmore energy and tension in the composition rather than just basically centeringit.
In each piece there are segments of three invisible horizontal guidesdividing the pages. The tops contain large type. The Middles each include ahero image and the in the bottom portions, more important type. Prownian analysis suggests that humans connect to an objectbased on fundamental human experience, engagement with the physical world,sense of self, and common human emotions. The most persistent object metaphors expressiveof belief seem embedded in polarities.
In all pieces, apolarity of the same colors is present. The colors red and blue are primaryopposite colors. In Fleur de Lotus, thelargest and most important type is in red, while the background of the heroimage is blue. In Bosch, thebackground is red while the logo and part of theillustration of the spark plug in the foreground, is blue. In Cordially yours, the night sky in thebackground is blue, while the bottle of alcohol is a warm orange.
Humans tendto patternize, to make visual connections and find comfort when successful. Theuse of polarity in all three pieces, which activates emotional and associationalattachments, evokes a primal connection from the consumer to them because from microto macro perspectives, our environment is sexed. The human perspectiveorganically connects to these pieces making them a powerful device to trap andcondition the consumer due to its universal accessibility based on the nature itself.Prown,David, “The Truth of Material Culture History or Fiction?” published by theSmithsonian Institution Press,Washington, D.C.
, copyright 1993 Insight on how humans visually connect to anobject.While CordiallyYours employed consumerpsychological theories to trap the minds of American consumers, the buyers werealready vulnerable due to the societalconstructions that surrounded alcohol. Pre prohibition, Americans would drink during breakfast, whiskeywas typical during lunchtime, ale with supper and the day ended with anightcap.
Continuous drinking built up a tolerance in most Americans and byseventeen ninety an American consumed an average of five point eight gallons ofalcohol in a year. Alcoholwas even endorsed by people who held power in religious institutions and evenin politics. The Founding Fathers liked adrink – Samuel Adams was a partner in his father’s malt house and ThomasJefferson was famed for importing European wines. The average American didn’t stand achance against high-powered branding campaigns for alcohol because they weremost likely already drunk, and people who have social power have greatinfluence on the public. The conditioning had already happened long beforeadvertisements like Cordially Yourslaunched because alcohol was already so engrained into American and global societalbehaviors. CordiallyYours fulfills abeautiful ascetic, but beneath the surface of the accessible visual narrative,lies a mind game scheme to trap the American consumer.
Human psychology and social constructswere employed and taken advantage of by the American Distilling Company to successfullyadvertise for their apricot flavored liqueur. Cordially Yours was andforever will be “bright yet dark”.