Study Room resource: Graphics and advertising

Prints and drawings, including fashion illustrations, architectural drawings, design drawings, watercolours, posters and much more, not on display in the galleries, can be seen in the Prints & Drawings Study Room. To make it easier for teachers and lecturers to access the most popular material with groups, we have developed themed study room resources which contain original prints and drawings.

The Graphics and Advertising resource was originally created to support visits to the D&AD exhibition, 'Rewind: 40 years of Advertising and Design From the D&AD' held at the V&A in 2002. For the past 40 years, the D&AD awards (the equivalent of the advertising Oscars) have been presenting silver and gold pencil trophies to the very best in design and art direction. From top TV commercials, the wittiest press campaign and the most powerful posters, the D&AD Awards have been selecting the very best creative communication. The exhibition highlighted the very best of these awards.

This Study Room resource examines some of the advertisements used in the exhibition. In addition to the Study Room resource, ten posters are also available.

The images referenced below appear in the study room resources but are unavailable to be shown on the website due to copyright issues

'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band'
Album sleeve by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth,
1967
Museum no. E.1803-1990

'Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band' is arguably the most famous album sleeve of all time. The image is composed of a collage of celebrities. The Beatles' album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band was first issued by EMI Records in 1967.

There are 88 figures on the album cover, including the band themselves. Pop Artist Peter Blake and his wife Jann Howarth conceived and constructed the set, including all the life-size cut-outs of historical figures. The band showed up and were photographed by Michael Cooper. Copyright was a problem as many of the celebrities were living, and so Beatles manager Brian Epstein tracked each one down to get letters of permission.

This print can be found in the General Advertising Print Room Box.

Poster for NSPCC
Dennis Willison and Kes Gray
1999
Museum no. E. -2002

A poster which delivers a powerful and emotive message with sophisticated subtlety: Dare to care. Cruelty to children must stop. One of a series issued by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

This print can be found in the General Advertising Print Room Box.

Lecturers' notes

These lecturer's notes are suitable for use with AVCE Art & Design, AVCE Media Communication & Production, AS/A2 Graphic Design and Foundation Studies Art & Design Diploma students.

View and print these notes as a Word Document (Word file, 113 KB)

View and print these notes as a PDF (PDF file, 267 KB)

Before your visit
As a preparatory task to viewing the Graphics and Advertising Study Room Resource, ask students to select a magazine advertisement which they like or think is particularly effective. Ask each student to explain their choice by saying a little about why the design appeals to them. Display this selection of advertisements in the classroom for future discussion and reference.

From this display ask each student to select the two advertisements which they think are the most successful. Give each student a gold and silver star (or something similar) to stick next to their choices: the advertisements with the most gold or silver stars will be the winners. Some preliminary discussion, before the judging, about criteria for assessing a piece of advertising will help students develop a critical eye. An agreed class list of criteria can be used by students to help them develop their own designs, and to evaluate both what they see at the V&A.

At the Print Room
Ten students is the maximum number allowed for each Print Room session. There are ten examples of advertising and design in the study room resource so each student could investigate one piece at a time, or students could work in pairs, spending some time looking at each piece individually. There are also a collection of 10 posters available to book.

The resource includes examples of advertising and design from each decade from the 1950s onwards. The order used in the resource contents list is chronological. The arrangement of the material in chronological order could be posed as a challenge for your students. The resource contents are selective and not fully representative of each decade but they can be used to explore some issues related to the changing nature of advertising and design over the last fifty years.

You could ask students to make a list of those points which they feel make each piece successful or unsuccessful in achieving its purpose. For example, does the advertisement have a powerful slogan, or use colour effectively? It might be helpful to look at one or two pieces as a group first.

Key questions

These are some key questions which you could pose for your students to help focus their thoughts when looking at the designs:

  • What is the purpose or aim of the design?
  • How has the designer tried to achieve this aim?
  • How successful do you think they have been?
  • How does the design capture the viewer's attention?
  • What techniques have been used to produce the original artwork for the design?
  • How could you replicate this technique or design?
  • Does the design incorporate a logo?
  • What purpose does the logo serve?
  • Does the design rely entirely on visuals?
  • What role does language play in the design?
  • If the design incorporates written language, would it make sense without it?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using language in advertising?
  • What appeals does the design make to the viewer? Does it rely on sex appeal or humour? Does it stimulate curiosity? Does the design attempt to shock the viewer?
  • Has the design dated? If so how could it be given a more contemporary feel?

You could ask students to decide which of the pieces included in the box they think is the most successful if you haven't done this previously. If they had to choose one design from this selection for a Gold or Silver Pencil award ( the highest and second highest awards given by D&AD), which would they choose? Are the most successful advertisements and pieces of design always those created with the most difficult or complex techniques?

Back at school

There are numerous possibilities for following up the work undertaken at the Museum, and begun at school. For example, possible projects could relate to:

  • Producing an advertisement for a specific product.
  • Redesigning the brand or corporate image of an organisation
  • Designing a poster which carries a political message or an appeal from a charitable organisation such as the NSPCC
  • Items 2, 3 & 10 in the Study Room Resources relate to packaging for albums. Students could be asked to design innovative prototype packaging for a CD which could be mass produced, but which still uses unusual materials or concepts

Discussion points

Advertising and controversy have never been far apart. This offers opportunities for some stimulating discussion and debate about the ethics of advertising. Newspaper articles can be used as a starting point for discussion. Debates could cover:

Provocative images
Some advertisements deliberately attempt to shock or provoke the viewer. The 'Act Up' advert (Item 7 in the Study Room Resources) refers to a Benetton advert which featured David Kirby (an AIDS activist) on his death bed. Act Up argue that such images shouldn't be used to sell clothing or to generate profit for a company like Benetton. Is it right to use shocking or emotive images to make profit? Is it any more acceptable for charitable organisations to use such images?

Tobacco advertising
Is it right that millions of pounds is spent on advertising products which shorten lives and cause both heart disease and lung cancer? Cigarette advertising is heavily regulated by government, but should it be banned altogether?

Representation of women and men in advertising
A 1950s advertisement for American cars is included in the resource: it uses a representation of a woman to help sell the product. The depiction of women in advertising has often been controversial. Is advertising sexist, and does it promote unfavourable stereotypes? The Diesel advertisement features two men kissing and there has recently been an increase in the number of men complaining about sexist adverts. Are prejudice, stereotyping and sexism in advertising things of the past? Or is it just the gender of the target that has changed?

Further information

A Teacher's Guide to Using the Print Room (ISBN 1 85177 155 7)
This publication is shows teachers how to use the Print Room at the V&A. It is available from the V&A Shop or by mail order at £5.95 (plus £1.45 p&p).

Teachers' notes

These teachers' notes are suitable for use with AVCE Art & Design, AVCE Media Communication & Production, AS/A2 Graphic Design and Foundation Studies Art & Design Diploma students.

View and print these notes as a Word Document (Word file, 73 KB)

View and print these notes as a PDF (PDF file, 98 KB)

Before your visit
Before coming to the V&A to view the Graphics and Advertising Study Room resources, ask students to select a magazine advertisement which they find interesting or think demonstrates particularly innovative design and ask them to explain their choice by saying a little about why the design appeals to them. You could then display this selection of advertisements in the studio for future discussion and reference and get the students to take on the role of a judging panel, awarding gold or silver stars to their winning choices.

Some preliminary discussion (before the judging) about good criteria for assessing a piece of advertising will help students develop critical skills. An agreed list of criteria can be used by students to develop their own designs, and to evaluate both what they see at the V&A and their own work.

Your visit to the print room, and the use of the Study Room Resources, will provide further opportunities for students to develop their critical skills and apply their criteria.

Ten students is the maximum number allowed for each Print Room session. There are ten examples of advertising and design in the study room resources so each student could investigate one piece at a time, or students could work in pairs, spending some time looking at each piece individually. There are also a collection of 10 posters available to book.

The study room resources examples of advertising and design from each decade from the 1950s onwards. The order used in the resource contents list is chronological. The arrangement of the material in chronological order could be posed as a challenge for your students. The resource contents are selective and not fully representative of each decade but they can be used to explore some issues related to the changing nature of advertising and design over the last fifty years.

You could ask students to make a list of those points which they feel make each piece successful or unsuccessful in achieving its purpose. For example, does the advertisement have a powerful slogan, or use colour effectively? It might be helpful to look at one or two pieces as a group first.

Key questions

These are some key questions which you could pose to your students to help focus their thoughts when looking at the objects as a group:

  • What is the purpose or aim of the design?
  • How has the designer tried to achieve this aim?
  • How successful do you think they have been?
  • How does the design capture the viewer's attention?
  • What techniques have been used to produce the original artwork for the design?
  • How could you replicate this technique or design?
  • Does the design incorporate a logo?
  • What purpose does the logo serve?
  • Does the design rely entirely on visuals?
  • What role does language play in the design?
  • If the design incorporates text, would it make sense without it?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using language in advertising?
  • How does the design engage the viewer? Does it rely on sex or humour? Does it stimulate curiosity? Does the design attempt to shock the viewer?

Alternatively split up your students into smaller groups and work from the themes below using the notes that follow:

Design for music graphics

At the Museum

Look at the three objects listed below. They are all examples of graphic design for music:

  • Object 2: 'Sgt.Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' album sleeve
  • Object 3: 'Yes' logo
  • Object 10: Spiritualized CD packaging

Also see Poster number 4: Promotional poster of the album 'Never Mind The Bollocks/Here's The Sex Pistols'.

  1. Compare the packaging of objects 2 and 10. What does the packaging tell you about the music?
  2. How does the packaging in 2 & 10 use visual language to attract a buyer?
  3. Try to analyse how object 3 has been made. What techniques has Roger Dean used to create this original artwork? Discuss how you might re-create this effect in your own work.
  4. In object 3, discuss which of the formal elements Roger Dean has used in order to create a visual dynamic?
  5. What sources may have influenced Roger Dean when he originally designed this 1970's rock band logo?

Back at college

  • Examine and record examples of CD packaging for a variety of music genres
  • List the key features of CD packaging
  • What would a designer need to consider when designing this type of packaging?

Most CD's come in a standard packaging format due to the cost of mass production and storage issues, but Farrow Design have proved that it is possible to be innovative and still keep costs to a minimum. With this in mind, design an innovative prototype packaging for a CD which could be mass produced and that uses unconventional materials or concepts.

Corporate identity & branding

At the Museum

Look at the three items listed below. They are examples of branding and corporate identity.

  • Object 4 : Miscellaneous ephemera for Biba, logo by John McConnell , 1969
  • Object 5 : Stationery for Michael Barrie, M. Bennett c.1979
  • Object 8: Adidas poster featuring Paul Ince.
  1. What are brands?
  2. How do we respond to them?
  3. Why do we buy one thing rather than another?
  4. Do people know what a logo stands for as an institution? What are we buying into? Discuss the corporate identity of the three brands represented.
  5. The V&A's image has recently been re-branded by Wolff Olins - collect examples of V&A leaflets and discuss the new branding.

Back at college

Collect examples of the brand identity of companies or institutions e.g. adverts, packaging, web pages, leaflets, letterheads, business cards, labels, logos etc. Present them to the group and discuss how branding can make a company or institution more successful and maintain brand loyalty from the customer.

Invite someone from the marketing department at your college or a local company to talk to the group about the brand and corporate image.

Devise a new brand image for the re-launch of Biba in 2004 e.g. Logo, colours, concepts for advertising, philosophy behind the new branding and target audience.

The following archives of Barbara Hulanicki, Fashion Designer and Biba, Fashion Retailer & Department Store are located in the Archive of Art & Design atBlythe House, 23 Blythe Road, West Kensington, London, W14 0QX, United Kingdom. Call +44 (0)20 7603 7493 for more details.

Selling strategies in advertising

At the Museum

Look at the four items listed below. They represent different strategies empolyed by advertising agencies to selll a product or an idea.

  • Object 1: American sale brochure for Plymouth automobiles, late 1950s
  • Object 6: Benetton advertisement - Oliviero Toscani, 1990
  • Object 7: Advertisement for ACT UP, Andrew Dibb, about 1986
  • Object 9: Advertisement for Diesel, Joakim Jonasson, Spring/Summer 1995
  1. Look at objects 1, a 1950's automobile brochure and object 9, an advertisement for Diesel clothing and discuss the representation of men and women in advertising and how sex sells. Recently there have been a growing number of complaints from men about the sexist way they are being represented in adverts.
  2. In 2001 Brookman's Solicitors, a British law firm released adverts urging dissatisfied husbands to 'Ditch the Bitch'. The accompanying advert aimed at women stated, 'All men are bastards'. So, does stereotyping and sexism still have a strong presence in advertising today?
  3. Compare and discuss the imagery and messages contained in objects 6 and 9. The clothing companies Benetton and Diesel have both courted controversy with their advertising campaigns. Diesel with its outrageous brand promises and mockery and Benetton with controversial adverts such as the one pictured in object 7.
  4. Discuss object 7. What do you think? Does Benetton use images like this dying aids patient purely for shock value? Should this type of image be used to generate income for a multinational clothing company?

Back at college

The Advertising Standards Agency is the regulatory body which governs advertising and it has the power to ban adverts if they are considered to cause widespread offence - look at this year's top ten advertising complaints on their website. Establish what criteria they use for judging and then develop your own set of criteria.

Each student should bring in an example of an advert from a magazine which uses sex or shock tactics to sell a product. In college exhibit the adverts around the wall (Try to label them & find out who are the agencies behind the adverts). Then make judgements as to whether each one would cause offence, to whom and the reasons behind the judgements using your agreed set of criteria. After discussing each advert, have a final group vote as to which (if any) should be banned.

Propaganda and public awareness

At the Museum

Look at the five posters listed below. They are all posters with a political or public awareness message.

  • Poster 2: Political poster by Paul Peter Piech
  • Poster 3: 'Clunk Click' Poster, Peter Ayers, 1974
  • Poster 6: Poster produced for Lynx, Barry Lategan & TBWA, 1987
  • Poster 9: The Body Shop Poster, Richard Browning 1990
  • Poster 10: NSPCC Poster, Saatchi & Saatchi, 1999

Posters are an effective way of getting across a message and often combine images and text. The slogans on posters are often referred to as strap lines. When looking at this selection discuss the following points:

  1. Why are strap lines often used by advertising agencies and what effect does the use of language have on the images?
  2. Are the posters that don't have a strap line more or less effective?
  3. Look at posters 2 and 9. Discuss the techniques used in these two adverts and compare them with some of the photographic based images you have seen.
  4. In both cases discuss the reasons why the designers have chosen to use these techniques for the posters. Why were these particular styles and colours chosen?

Back at college

It is claimed that Nike's 'Just Do It' was dreamt up in just 15 minutes. Students should collect examples of strap lines, then brainstorm ideas for winning strap lines and present them to the group.

Students could design a political or public awareness campaign poster which combines text and image to deliver a powerful message

The archive of Paul Peter Piech, Graphic Artist 1920-1996 is located at the Museum Archives,  Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, West Kensington, London, W14 0QX, United Kingdom

Call +44 (0)20 7603 7493 for more details.

Humour and surrealism in advertising

At the Museum

Look at the posters listed below from the 1960's, 70's and 80's. They all use humour or surrealism to sell a product.

  • Poster 1 : Poster Advertising Cadbury's Fruit and Nut chocolate, about 1966
  • Poster 5 : Advertisement for White Horse whiskey, Graeme Norways, about 1979
  • Poster 7 : V&A poster, Saatchi and Saatchi, 1988
  • Poster 8 : Advertisement for Silk Cut Cigarettes, Saatchi and Saatchi 1988
1. Look at posters 1, 5 and 7 and discuss the different uses of humour in these adverts
2. The cigarette industries are facing ever increasing restrictions on their advertisements e.g. in the advertising code of practice cigarette adverts are not allowed to be associated with glamour, success in business etc. In the late 1980's, Benson and Hedges and later Gallagher who took over Benson and Hedges began to use a surreal approach to their adverts.
3. Looking at poster 8 and with this in mind, brainstorm how Silk Cut adverts are successful. Refer to the imagery, lack of any text or visual reference to cigarettes and the repetition of the concept over a period of time. Often the only text on cigarette advertising is the government health warning. Have you considered how the advertising agencies may use this to their advantage?

Back at college

Look at various objects made by Surrealists such as Salvador Dali's 'Lobster Telephone' and Meret Oppenheim's 'Object'. Then select an idiom such as I'm all ears or cost an arm and a leg and try to represent it using imagery alone (collage, drawing, photography, video etc). Display the finished work and discuss how successful they are in communicating the meaning to the viewer without relying on language.

Further information

A Teacher's Guide to Using the Print Room (ISBN 1 85177 155 7)

This publication is shows teachers how to use the Print Room at the V&A. It is available from the V&A Shop or by mail order at £5.95 (plus £1.45 p&p).

 

The Medal Cabinet Appeal

We urgently need your help to raise £534,000 to save this rare and remarkable medal cabinet from export. We only have until July 2014 to acquire it and ensure its place in the national collections.

Help us buy The Medal Cabinet

Shop online

V&A Contemporary: Dialogue: Relationships in Graphic Design

V&A Contemporary: Dialogue: Relationships in Graphic Design

One of the most vibrant of design practices, graphic design has undergone radical transformation in the last few years, affected by new technologies, …

Buy now

Event - John Hegarty On Creativity

Fri 06 June 2014 18:30

EVENING TALK: John Hegarty is one of the world’s most famous advertising creatives and a founding partner of Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Book online