This vintage advertisement was part of a series of posters designed by Paul Rand during the 1940s to 1950s. It was commissioned by then-owners Schenley Distillers Corp to market the Coronet VSQ Brandy in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. While the client initially planned on using a brandy snifter as its trademark, they later chose to retain Rand’s Coronet Waiter as their mascot due to its popular appeal.
The late Paul Rand once said, “the problem of the artist is to defamiliarise the ordinary”. Take a look at this playful and imaginative poster - one of his earlier advertising works - and you’ll see Rand’s ethos embodied throughout. Rand was fond of playing around with found objects in his Coronet advertisements to invite a sense of rediscovery and excitement around the product. Here, a red oval stands in for a tray (in other Coronet posters, a bird’s nest and a beach ball have been used as substitutes for trays).
A collage style combination of cutout photographs, shapes and cartoons looks chic and energetic. While the poster might be a merger of various visual elements, each still ultimately remains cohesive next to one another, while referential to the one thing that matters most: the Coronet Brandy! For starters, even the Coronet waiter’s head is suggestively shaped like a brandy snifter. Meanwhile, the tiny circles in the background are reminiscent of bubbles, much like one would expect in a fizzy brandy highball. Finally, the anthropomorphic brandy snifter plays it part by tipping its crown towards the Coronet Bottle, reminding the viewer what’s truly worth paying attention too.
Fun fact: the Schenley Distillers Corp even produced a brandy snifter modelled after Rand’s design! On the bottom right of the poster, the snifter is advertised for sale at an absolute steal of 50 cents apiece.