Whence the lion logo of Publicis? Answer: Publicis × Van Cleef & Arpels in 1966 = 🦁

Background photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

By John Maeda @ Publicis Sapient

We bridge strategy and engineering with experience.

As I get older, I get more curious about the number ‘1966’ because it’s the year in which I was born. I now have a collection of a variety of things that come from that year: a TV Batman colorforms set, a TV Star Trek original 35mm slide, more than a few JFK silver half dollars from 1966 (I was named after JFK by my mother), and the original Miura Lamborghini (clarification: I just own a model replica of this one).

So I was particularly delighted while studying the history of Publicis — the parent company of Publicis Sapient — that the logo is based on a gift that Publicis founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet (1906–1996) commissioned from legendary jewelers Van Cleef & Arpels in the year … 1966.

It was likely a play on one of the items in series of animal-themed brooches called ‘La Boutique,’ with the lion character entitled ‘Lion Ébouriffé’ which went in a Christie’s auction for USD 6K in 2016. Apparently other collectors of this series of special pins include Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy — I surfed eBay and saw that there are variants on it available online that are pricey but still beautiful.

I’ve enjoyed getting to learn more about Publicis founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. It’s clear that he was a visionary who wasn’t only way ahead of his time — he was also able to live through the times when his ideas could make the greatest impact. It’s especially relevant to read about the background for why his name includes Blanchet — it says a lot about this unique person.

There are some great quotes from Bleustein-Blanchet online. I liked how he’s talking about the importance of user research and agile methodologies here:

“To produce without information, is like doing half the job.”

And this is Bleustein-Blanchet talking about the centrality of getting your product right, or else no marketing can fix its failures.

“There is really no good advertising for bad products. Advertising is like proposing — and to succeed in love you must believe in it. To project yourself into the future you must permanently renew your lifeline.”

Bleustein-Blanchet was clearly an interdisciplinary thinker back when that perspective was not the norm:

“Advertising has become a crossroads where all modern techniques and even sciences meet: sociology, psychology, economics communication, marketing, design. It has become so rich, so complete, so rigorous and so precise that you might say it is a digest of our culture.”

And above all, Bleustein-Blanchet fully understood that communication is about connecting deeply.

“That’s the paradox of advertising: you are dealing with everyone and yet with someone in particular. Advertising is about achieving collective intimacy.”

That’s why thinking and working and acting inclusively is key today. On the one hand it’s about doing research, and on the other hand it’s about assuring that the team that creates the work is represented on the team. Because you can’t get intimate with what you know nothing about.

Takeaways?

Well, first of all I’m delighted that the original 🦁 lion logo is in the shape of a circle. Because … the Publicis Sapient identity fits within … a circle. That’s a great start as far as I’m concerned (wink).

Secondly, it’s exciting to be linked to the heritage of Van Cleef & Arpels — they’re a brand I’ve long admired for their craftspersonship. I definitely will be looking for a 1966 piece from their universe to add to my collection.

Lastly, it looks like I was meant to be in the Publicis Sapient universe. 1966. Weird. And v cool. I’m looking forward to learning more about Bleustein-Blanchet as I get closer to the source. — John Maeda

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We bridge business strategy and scaled engineering with dataful experiences. https://publicissapient.com/experience

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Publicis Sapient Experience

Publicis Sapient Experience

We bridge business strategy and scaled engineering with dataful experiences. https://publicissapient.com/experience

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