Celebrities are used to sell everything from automobiles to soda pop, but breaking print ads for Esleeck Papers may mark the first time personalities have been tapped to sell high-end business stationery.
"We designers all have our designer heroes, and our strategy was to exaggerate the level of admiration," said Louis DiBacco, creative director of DiBacco & Co., the Avon, Conn., shop that fashioned the campaign.
The effort introduces Esleeck Cotton 100 paper and the tag, "Because you aspire to a higher level."
In one execution, David Carson, known for his inventive use of type styles, appears as a dashboard statuette. The headline: "David Carson reminds you not to worship him and drive." Copy continues, "You revere the originals in this business. Now make your own statement on a paper worthy of it: Esleeck Cotton 100."
A second ad features a wall portrait of graphic designer Steff Geissbuhler. The subject is clad in Elvis Presley Vegas-era attire, but the ad cautions, "Don't expect a free Cadillac."
Michael Mabry is shown in a third ad as the face inside a St. Christopher medal. Copy notes that despite his heavenly design abilities, "Michael Mabry cannot protect you from flood, fire or famine. But his inspiration can heal the lame."
The aspirational tone is intended to reinforce the message that Esleeck "[provides] the design community with a paper choice that is demonstrably and clearly superior," said company official Jim Alexander.
The ad subjects appeared free of charge, DiBacco said. The campaign will initially run in industry publications such as Graphic Design USA and Print. Media placement was handled in-house by the 100-year old Turners Falls, Mass.-based client. DiBacco also fashioned collateral materials for Esleeck.
Art director Rich Denver and copywriter Alan Maislen worked on the effort under the direction of Louis DiBacco, who several years ago helped create award-winning ads for Strathmore paper while working for Keiler & Co., Farmington, Conn.