The Product and the Promise
Since the nineteenth century, famous figures have been used for product advertising, and such testimonials increased dramatically in the 1920s. As the president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising firm pointed out, there was ample evidence that people wanted their “news, education, and entertainment conveyed . . . through the medium of personalities.” When celebrity endorsement was enlarged from page to poster size, the effect could be dramatic.
Photographic celebrity portraits were the key component for an enormously successful advertising campaign for Blackglama mink coats. Launched in 1968, the stark black-and-white posters featured Richard Avedon’s photographs of recognizable stars, each garbed in her choice of coat. Not only did the intersection of photography, celebrity, luxury, and glamour serve the purpose of commerce, it also produced collectible art: a high-style version of the personality poster. After Blackglama’s success, advertisers increasingly tapped celebrities for their campaigns.