George Lois was born on the 26th of June 1931, in New York City, US, to hard-working Greek immigrants. At the age of 5, George started working with his father at the families florist shop. Quickly realizing the family business wasn’t for him, George started drawing on anything and everything he could get his hands on. Often sitting in the stairwell of the fire escape, drawing 3-D lettering and other objects on anything he could.
George Lois started designing commercially in the 1950s and has since served up some amazing campaigns – such as the now infamous “I Want My MTV” campaign, or the Volkswagen “Think Small” campaign. The work of George Lois speaks volumes about America and the world during the fifties, sixties, seventies and the eighties. Lois was also one of the main driving forces of the 1960s creative revolution in American advertising.
Over Lois’s career he has created an amazing portfolio that saw him work with giants such as MTV, Xerox, Tommy Hilfiger, ESPN, Esquire, and USA Today.
Lois created 92 covers for Esquire magazine, which when viewed as a collection, the 92 covers serve as a visual timeline of the 1960s. Showing the turbulent and often controversial times that saw America and the world deal with racism, feminism, civil rights, and the Vietnam War. Working with Sonny Liston, Andy Warhol, and Muhammed Ali to name a few. Or his stubborn attitude towards rejection that saw him come up with the Lean Cuisine brand name for Stouffer’s Frozen Foods.
One of his more notable accomplishments was in 1982, when after it’s first year of operating, MTV was a certain failure. Something drastic had to be done, so they called in the legendary designer George Lois. After two decades of high profile and successful campaigns for numerous other businesses, it was the smart choice. Lois was quick to amend the MTV logo, incorporating the iconic lips and tongue from The Rolling Stones, and a bright and ever-changing color scheme. Mick Jagger, Pat Benatar, and Peter Townshend were among some of the rockstars featured on the adverts shouting “I Want My MTV!” and encouraging viewers to call up their local stations and do the same. Within minutes of the commercials running, cable operators in each city were flooded with calls from thousands of viewers shouting “I Want My MTV!”
And while everyone today knows the iconic Tommy Hilfiger logo and who Tommy Hilfiger is. In 1985, before launching his campaign with George Lois, it was a very different story. Lois created a series of campaigns for Hilfiger that dared to compare Tommy to the greatest fashion designers of the 80s, Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein. The campaign was a massive success and and Hilfiger received an avalanche of publicity and became instantly famous.
To read more about the original Big Idea designer George Lois and the brilliant ideas that he had. Download the full article on Lois and learn more about his fascinating Big Ideas.