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Is George Lois the Real Don Draper?

George Lois is a larger than life, old school American Ad Man and controversial personality who helped pioneer the American creative advertising revolution. He is often referred to as the father of modern Art Direction. Did he inspire the character of Don Draper; Mad Mens flawed creative genius?

Meet the Real Don Draper

The Creative Genius of George Lois

George Lois is defined by his powerful early work and is responsible for some of the world’s best known advertising campaigns (some say advertising miracles). He catapulted the then little know designer Tommy Hilfiger to one of the world’s most recognised fashions icons over night with this advertising campaign.

Those of you who remember the early days of MTV will remember his ground breaking I Want My MTV campaign. This advertising campaign turned a struggling network in one of the world’s must popular stations.

He’s also known for his work with for Esquire Magazine and his 92 cover designs (now a part of MoMA’s permanent collection ) have been recognised as being some of the most creative and provocative magazine covers of all time. His work featured people such as Richard Nixon, Andy Warhol, and Muhammad Ali. He’s also the only individual in the entire globe who was ever accepted in The Art Directors Hall of Fame, as well as in The One Club Creative Hall of Fame.

The Controversy

George has never been too far from controversy with some people claiming that he has taken credit for other peoples work. In 2008 the New York Times stated that the “Think Small” Volkswagen ad campaign wasn’t created by George Lois (with some credit going to Julian Koenig). I guess success has many fathers while failure is an orphan.

In 2011 when asked how he would describe his work in three words George said:

THE BIG IDEA:solving a specific communications problem with an audacious blend of words and images that catch people’s eyes, penetrate their minds, warm their hearts, and cause them to act.


If you want to learn more about George Lois pick up one of the 9 books he has authored or pick up one of the many books written about him. I’d also recommend watching in Art and Copy, a documentary about the advertising industry in which he features.

I’m not sure where the truth lies however there’s no denying the contribution George Lois has made to the creative communications and pop culture.

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One Response to “Is George Lois the Real Don Draper?”

  1. On July 23, 2011 at 2:31 am Patrick King responded with... #

    Thanks for spotlighting George.  We’re working with him to bring his quips and quotes to the world at TypographyShop. Check out his “Great Ideas Can’t be Tested” shirt

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