Retro Promos


Olympic History: Munich 1972

The bar was set high by Mexico in 1968, but Otl Aicher and his design team were able to keep pace with some really terrific visual design, seen here in a lapel pen and a set of flower vases.

olympics-munich 72



Olympic History: Mexico City 1968

The 1968 Mexico City Olympics marked many firsts: first Spanish-speaking host nation, first Latin American host nation, first “Third World” host nation and perhaps the first integrated branding campaign. For their logo, they combined the Op Art currently in vogue with indigenous Huichol paintings. They proceeded to use the design elements to brand everything from bus stops to event schedules to the dresses guides wore. Even today, their work was considered a landmark in design.

olympics-mexico 68


Olympic History: Tokyo 1964

In some ways, the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 were very similar to this year’s Olympics in Beijing. To some degree, for both countries they Olympics were seen as a coming out party to showcase the economic development of the host country. Arguably, this worked better for Japan, which had experienced remarkable economic development in the 20 years after WWII, but hadn’t yet become the economic threat it would become in the ’80s. For China, already an economic superpower, the Olympics has brought attention to serious environmental problems and political issues. Below, a commemorative medallion from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

olympics-tokyo-64 medallion


Vintage Needle Giveaways

Here’s something you don’t see anymore: sewing needle giveaways from grocery stores. I’m not sure when these are from, but I guess it was back when people might actually sew stuff. The Owl supermarket promo apparently had about 40 needles, which is probably a lifetime supply for an entire city these days. Of course, in a couple years, perhaps the needle kit will make a comeback, along with vegetable seed packets and other survival promos.

super-valu-vintage-sewing k

owl-vintage-sewing kit


Tech That: AIM Lava Lamp

Nothing says retro like a lava lamp, except maybe AOL. The corollary is that this AIM-branded lava lamp is kind of double retro cool. Does that make it uncool? I’m not even sure. aim-lava lamp


Classic Promotional Coaster

I guess I don’t have a lot to say about this coaster, but I do think it looks cool. I suppose much has changed since the days in which milk companies delivered in glass bottles and gave people promotional coasters. That said, I actually can walk down to the farmer’s market on Saturdays and buy milk in glass bottles, returning my empties each week. Even though we probably won’t ever move back from massive, industrialized agriculture, it’s nice to know that we still live in a world in which smaller local producers can at least coexist.

ellwood-dairies coaster