Promoting the Times Is Timely

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Even before The New York Times newspaper was graphically designed to enter the 20th century, its promotion department created memorable graphic design that underscored the greatness of the institution and won the hearts and minds of New Yorkers (like me). Opening on Wednesday Sept 5 at the Times Building, a mini-exhibition produced by the Times, “Get All the News and Get It Right: A History of New York Times Promotions,” includes classic posters and ad work by two influential art director/designers. Regrettably, it is only open to Times employees and invited guests. But it is worth knowing about.

The New York times ad

George Krikorian, Kenneth D. Haak & Paul Smith, 1951.

The title of this exhibition comes from a series of 1951 New York Times ads, a message echoed in the paper’s current campaigns: we deliver the truth. From the catalog: “Along with a rotating selection of contemporary advertising, this exhibition primarily features the work of two 20th century New York Times art directors: George Krikorian and Lou Silverstein. Both significantly modernized the look and feel of The Times, how we seek out readers and how we see ourselves. Artist-designed ads also feature in the exhibition and represent another significant chapter in the innovative history of The Times brand. Together, their efforts continue to influence New York Times marketing today.”

George Krikorian (“Krick”) revolutionized the look and feel of New York Times promotions by flipping the order of operations. Rather than receiving copy and designing around it, he first created layouts and graphics and then incorporated text specifically written to fit his design. “This approach led to bold modern visuals that are so striking, they can get stuck in your head like a pop song.”

New York Times page

“Pressman’s Hat’, part of a promotional kit by Louis Silverstein from 1967, which included various colored pages and origami instructions for how to fold them into hats.

The Times’s most celebrated art director, Lou Silverstein (see homage here), was an abstract painter who studied at the Chicago Bauhaus. He approached design with playful and experimental vigor. He began as the art director for promotions and became the creative director of the newspaper. He was responsible for adding all the new “C” and “D” sections, reduced the number of columns on a page from eight to six that continues to breathe air into the overall look of The Times today.

The New York Times puts you on top of events wherever they are hatching

Tomi Ungerer, 1960. Agency: BBD&O.

New York Times Promo page

Louis Silverstein, 1960s. Folio was published by Sanders Printing Co. and featured work of contemporary graphic and advertising designers.