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Popular Magazine & Advertising Icon ‘I Want My MTV’ – The Hollywood Reporter


George Lois, the charismatic, hard-selling advertising man and designer who created some of the boldest magazine images of the 1960s and popularized slogans and brand names like “I want to My MTV” and “Lean Cuisine,” have passed away. He was 91.

Lois’ son, photographer Luke Lois, said he died “peacefully” on Friday at his home in Manhattan.

Nicknamed the “Golden Greek” and later (to his displeasure) “The Primordial Madman,” George Lois was among the wave of advertisers who launched the “Creative Revolution” shook Madison Avenue and the outside world in the late 1950s and 1960s. He is boastful and provocative, willing and able to offend, and a master at finding the right images or words to capture the moment or create demand.

His Mr Magazine covers, from Muhammad Ali impersonating the martyr Saint Sebastian to Campbell’s Andy Warhol drowning in a sea of ​​tomato soup, defined the ’60s sublime spirit as much as Norman Rockwell’s idealistic drawings. for the Saturday Evening Post convened an earlier era. As an advertiser, he devised groundbreaking strategies for Xerox and Stouffer’s, and helped an upstart music video channel in the 1980s by recommending commercials featuring Mick Jagger. and other rock stars demanded, with pretense, “I want my MTV!”

Lois has condensed it into what he calls the “Big Idea,” crystallizing “the unique virtues of a product and etching it into people’s minds.” He has been inducted into numerous advertising and visual arts halls of fame, and in 2008 he Mr The work has been added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Martin Scorsese, Tina Brown and Graydon Carter are among his fans.

His legacy is enormous, although the actual size is disputed. His claims about developing the 1960s “I Want My Maypo” breakfast ad and inspiring the creation of New York magazine were opposed by many. Some of Esquire’s former colleagues will allege that he exaggerated his role at the expense of other contributors, such as Carl Fischer, who shot many of the magazine’s famous covers. But his remarkable drive and confidence were well documented.

In her memoirs basic black, before America today Publisher Cathie Black recalls inviting Lois in the early 1980s to propose a new advertising approach for a publication that at first had difficulty defining itself. Lois’s idea is to be invincible United States of America today dual appeal as a newspaper and magazine, proposing the tagline, “A lot of people are talking America today neither fish nor chicken. They’re right!” Before a press gathering that included founder Al Neuharth, Lois gave an Oscar-worthy performance, Black wrote, “walking in like a 6-foot-3 teenager jump on the Red Bull.”

“He threw his jacket on the floor, ripped off his tie, then flashed one ad after another, walked around the room, and continued his nagging monologue mixed with jokes and obscenity. It’s epic, almost terrifying. I was very pleased. When he finished speaking, the room was completely silent.” All eyes were on Neuharth, who was sitting “completely motionless, his expression hidden behind his black aviator glasses.” Neuharth paused, took off his glasses and smiled. “We’ve got it,” he said.

Lois’s longtime wife, Rosemary Lewandowski Lois, died in September. One son, Harry Joseph Lois, died in 1978.

Lois, the son of a Greek immigrant, was born in New York City in 1931 and would cite racism in his Irish neighborhood for his attempt to “wake up, disturb, protest. .” He likes to say that a successful advertiser attracts as many influences as possible, and he prides himself on his knowledge of everything from sports to ballet. He was a drawing junkie and for most of his life he visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art weekly.

He enrolled at Pratt Academy, soon met his future wife, and ran away with her before they both graduated. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, he joined CBS’s advertising and promotion division and in 1960 helped found the advertising agency Papert Koenig Lois. Two years later, he was recruited by Esquire editor Harold Hayes and remained until 1972, the same year Hayes left.

Esquire was the main venue for the so-called New Press of the 1960s, nonfiction stories with a literary approach, and the magazine would publish such famous works as Gay Talese’s portrait of Frank Sinatra and “America’s Last Hero is Junior Johnson” by Tom Wolfe. Right!” But to read the words, you had to buy the magazine, and the covers of Lois gave rise to countless conversations.

For a cover story about “The New American Woman,” he featured a nude model that was dumped in the trash. An infamous 1970 cover shows grinning Lieutenant William Calley, the soldier later convicted of killing unarmed civilians in the My Lai Massacre, with his arms around a pair of Vietnamese children, two other children behind.

In the mid-1970s, Lois was one of the public figures who attempted to free boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter from prison. Carter’s murder conviction was later overturned and he was released in 1985. Lois has also written several books and was featured in the 2014 documentary about Mr titled Laugh Through the Apocalypse.

Interest in Lois was renewed thanks to the popularity of the AMC series Crazy manbut he is not proud, writes in his book Damn good advice that the performance “was like a soap opera set in a flashy office, where stylish fools hug their lauded shaggy-haired secretaries, smoke martinis and smokes to death when they produce silly, lifeless ads.”

“Moreover,” he added, “when I was in my 30s, I was more handsome than Don Draper.”

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