Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Artists in Ad Land: Billy Apple

Along with his contemporary Andy Warhol, Billy Apple managed to have a close association with advertising and still be seen as a credible practising artist. Unlike Warhol, Apple did it from the inside. Somehow, as he says in the terrific documentary Being Billy Apple, he was able to “drift in and make a lot of money, and drift out.”

Probably his best known campaign was for Tareyton, the cigarette company. James Jordan of BBDO came up with one of the most famous US ad lines of all times, “I’d rather fight than change”. The gag was completed by models with a bruised eye painted in make-up. When Tareyton brought out its new ‘light’ brand in the late seventies, it was Apple who came up with the “rather light than fight” line, switching the black bruise with a white patch.

In Being Billy Apple, Apple talks about other brands he worked on including a British tea print campaign, an early example of using packaging art to promote Breeze detergent and Warner ("why have half a TV when you can have a Warner TV"). One of our readers has suggested that it was also Apple, as Barry Bates, who drew up one of the first versions of the Farmers logo.

As you will know from past posts Apple is still juggling art and ads. His recent campaign for Marcus Lush has hit New Plymouth.

Image: Tareyton print advert based on Apple’s concept