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Advertising becomes weird

Did you immediately notice the alligator?
Did you immediately notice the alligator?
Vernon Brookins

I am reviewing poster art of Fernet-Branca.


In and around Chicago there are weird, advertising posters that likely have received millions of stares from residents and visitors. These are the Fernet-Branca posters that appear on subway walls and at commuter train stations. These posters have been on display for several months, probably since April 2014.

Fernet-Branca is a unique, Italian liqueur. These liqueur’s, glass containers are not art; they have the traditional, alcohol bottles’ shapes. (No square, prismatic, vermilion-tinted or oddly elongated glass here.)

Weirdness becomes apparent in two of these posters’ elements. The female model is walking her alligator. In addition she is wearing a very wide belt that has three buckles.

Not so weird are two pedestrians (on the posters’, left sides) staring at the model. (If you saw such a sight, you would also stare.) The model and her reptile are noticeably brighter than other elements. (This is great composition and lighting.)

This poster certainly qualifies as Commercialism Style art because Fernet-Branca’s manufacturer wants to sell lots of this liqueur. (Advertising using posters and billboards is certainly cheaper than advertising on television. However, Fernet-Branca almost certainly paid more than $1,000 (U.S.) for the three models’ times. It is possible that the main, female model took an actual, leashed alligator for a walk. If such was the case, Fernet-Branca likely paid more than $300 to rent the alligator and its handler; the handler would be nearby, but out of camera range.)

If this were not an advertisement, but a candid photo, it could qualify as Fantasy Style art. (It has existing animals and possible scenes.) That is, it could be a possible, street scene with a human and a reptile. (You will not see such a scene on Chicago’s streets.)

If the alligator was emerging from a black hole over the Adler Planetarium, and the brightly-lit, female model was twisted into a pretzel shape and doing somersaults on the Moon, it would qualify as Surrealism Style art. The models on the left could have the heads of a brontosaurus and a triceratops to give it an even more surrealistic touch.

Posters advertising products in a fantastic manner are somewhat rare on Chicago’s streets. (However, there are probably a lot of these in Chicago’s museums.) Posters advertising the performing arts (movies and plays) in fantastic manners are more common. Nonetheless, the Fernet-Branca posters are superb art from a very professional photographer.