How a Florist Shop Turned a Boy Into an Advertising Genius.
Tommy Hilfiger was on Charlie Rose, describing the turning point that made him a household name. “George Lois,” Hillfinger said. “We were nobody’s. You couldn’t compare our sales to Calvin Kline or Yves Saint Laurent. George was the one who changed all that. His work is absolute genius.”
“What did he do?” Charlie asked him.
“He proposed a campaign comparing us to those guys. It was completely audacious at the time, but it worked. Our sales grew like crazy.”
For those of you not familiar with George Lois (and you should be if you’re in advertising), he was an art director at Doyle Dane Bernbach during the Creative Revolution. Like his contemporaries, including Bob Gage, Julian Koenig and Helmet Krone, Lois believed in the sell. What sold? A thought, a visual, an idea that people hadn’t seen before. It had to be something so different, so outrageously unique, you couldn’t help noticing it.
That became a pattern with Lois: Nobody pays attention unless they’re a little bit shocked. Throughout his career, especially at his own agency, Papert, Koenig and Lois, Lois found ways to raise interest—and eyebrows.
So where does a genius like George Lois come from? He started out working at his father’s florist shop. When he wasn’t making deliveries, he’d watch his father. Any time a customer came in with an order, Lois’s father listened intently. Then he did whatever he wanted.
To a young Lois, that was audacious, but he learned later his father was always