Charismatic ad man and designer George Lois, a king of 1960s magazine images and ad slogans, has died. He was 91.
He died peacefully in his sleep on Friday at home in Manhattan, said his son, photographer Luke Lois.
George Lois was known for catchphrases and brand names including “I Want My MTV” and “Lean Cuisine,” along with bold magazine covers for the likes of Esquire.
One of his 92 covers featured Muhammad Ali posed as martyr Saint Sebastian and showed Andy Warhol sinking into a sea of Campbell’s tomato soup. Lois addressed everything from shifting ideas of gender to the Vietnam War’s My Lai massacre and racial politics.
Lois’s work for Esquire was later added to the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. At the same time, he resisted comparisons to Don Draper, the ad man protagonist of the hit series “Mad Men” in the 2010s.
“I was better looking,” Lois reportedly said.
His advertising strategies put brands like Xerox and Stouffer’s on the map, and it was his idea to make Mick Jagger and other rock stars the face of the MTV in the 1980s as they declared, with mock petulance, “I want my MTV!”
Lois’s strength was distilling “the unique virtues of a product and searing it into people’s minds,” as he put it.
He also noted the contrast between the “Big Idea”-fueled times of the 1960s, where “Mad Men” was set, and 21st-century advertising.
“The creative guys ran everything,” he told the Daily News in 2012. “The money guys didn’t run it. The account guys didn’t run it. There ended up being six or seven agencies that were run by the creatives. They did bright, sharp stuff. It was witty. For the first time, people watched commercials and talked about them the next day at work.”
With News Wire Services