As hosts of the 1966 World Cup, England, and particularly the Football Association, gave overseas teams a gracious welcome. The tournament gave rise to an unprecedented level of commercial exploitation, exemplified by the first World Cup mascot; a puckish lion called World Cup Willie who wore a union jack waistcoat, and walked with a comical swagger. Popular and academic histories of the World Cup tend to focus almost wholly on the football played, and the outcome in sporting terms. However, the poster and the commercialization of the tournament are as interesting as the Portugese striker Eusebio being the top scorer with nine goals, followed by Haller of West Germany and Bene of Hungary with five and four goals respectively. Awarded the tournament in 1960, the Football Association lost no time in achieving the 1.6 million ticket sales required to make the occasion a financial success. Firstly, no ground with a capacity below 50,000 spectators would be awarded a World Cup game. Due to regulations that all World Cup matches were to be played on pitches at least 115 yards long and 75 yards wide, high profile stadia close to large urban populations, like Arsenal’s Highbury, could not be selected as there wasn't room to expand the playing surface. Everton’s Goodison Park fared better with the adaptations. Similarly, with television broadcast now standard, the Press box had to accommodate over 40 people and technical changes were made: new cabling at Everton alone cost £10,000. The tournament was hosted across seven venues in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesborough, Sheffield and Sunderland.
A staff of thirty five began to promote and sell tickets well beforehand to achieve the sellout figures: Final tickets were only available as part of season tickets to help in selling out other matches. There was the question of balancing sales to overseas and domestic supporters. Since British ticket prices were generally lower than those in other countries, this helped to sell to both domestic and overseas consumers. Those in the luxury seats for ten games, including the Final, could purchase them for £25 15shillings, whereas standing tickest for the same events were as cheap as £3 17 shillings and sixpence. But what role did the posters play in selling the tournament?
The 1966 Poster
Posters played a major role in publicizing the World Cup since its inception and, as interest in the event burgeoned in 1966, so did the professionalization of graphic design. In design terms, England appeared to be personified by the intensely nationalistic mascot, World Cup Willie. The mascot was symbolic of the new era of merchandising and, behind the friendly and furry façade, the little lion had a Beatles haircut, so more than ever, youth was targeted by football as consumers. As David Gill has shown, British military regiments and US sports teams had used live animals as adopted mascots since the nineteenth century, but with the innovation of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers of merchandising their cartoon character mascots, in the 1930s, a new marketing trend translated from the entertainment industries to sport (David Gill ‘Sports Mascots: An Analysis of the Factual and Legal History of Character Mascots’ Trademark World 218 pp. 36-9 www.ipworld.com accessed 25 June 2018).
The 1966 World Cup could not have taken place without government support: this reflected Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s modernisation of the British economy with £500,000 of central government funding to improve the seven host venues. Various state-funded communication and transport providers benefitted also, such as the Post Office and British Transport, and private enterprise from airlines to newspapers who had a range of advertising of their own. A range of non-profit charity providers and voluntary clubs also contributed. Because World Cup Willie was a visual representation, visitors who could not speak English were able to see his likeness on temporary signs used by London Transport to get visitors to Wembley and White City stadiums during the tournament, and provided a simple way of highlighting relevant information.
As the FA said at the time:
It was of paramount importance that as much publicity as possible should be obtained with the minimum outlay. The spending of large sums of money which would have been required for a national, or international advertising campaign could never be countenanced. So every possible avenuewas explored to obtain maximum coverage with minimum expenditure. With no newspaper advertising contemplated, attractive posters were an absolute necessity as a substitute to keep the posters in the public eye.
Over 100,000 posters were displayed across venues. As to the design itself, a golden football in the top right hand corner of the design has been kicked by World Cup Willie, who wears a union flag-embossed football strip, on which the words World Cup are prominent. The union flag features again in the official logo which was placed parallel to World Cup Willie on the bottom right. There are many more beautiful World Cup poster designs but this was playful and humorous which is perhaps all the more remarkable given the huge pressure under which the FA and the England national team hosted the tournament.
The promoter of World Cup Willie was Walter Tuckwell and Associates Limited, was at the forefront of the new character merchandising industry with licensed products including James Bond, Noddy, Dr Who and other BBC series. Tuckwell bought the merchandising agency rights from the FA and complained that the emblem was too dull so the FA commissioned his company to design a mascot. Through through the work of Richard Culley and artist Reginald Hoy, World Cup Willie went through a series of design modifications. The principle of having a cartoon mascot was instantly popular amongst football clubs in the 1960s. This also set a tradition that has spread across major tournaments and in professional clubs, becoming a standard means of merchandising and promoting related memorabilia.
There were also more practical ways of branding the tournament as British, such as the Home Office confirming that the FA permission to use the coat of arms on the official emblem of the tournament. Designed by Arthur Bew, a commercial artist, the insignia was not open to a public competition as had been originally discussed. The model of an official logo, a tournament poster and a mascot would remain the key three ways of promoting World Cups until the innovation of ‘Artmarks’ (a stylized version of the trophy) for the Korea-Japan tournament in 2002. The only person to seem absolutely sure that England would win all along was the manager, Alf Ramsey and he was knighted for his efforts in the New Year’s Honours list: hence ‘Arise Sir Alf.’
World Cup blog 54, 58, 62 posters, images courtesy of the National Football Museum.
The World Cup tournaments in 1954, 1958 and 1962 were also about new forms of confidence and innovative markets. The designs becoming increasingly simple and abstract. The 1954 World Cup in Switzerland was amongst the first to be televised, although relatively few people owned their own set, and would probably have watched at a friend or neighbor, and this marked a new age in visualizing football. The 1954 World Cup was the first to be televised and marked a new way of watching sport, in that people would increasingly follow the tournament on screen than rather than through the press and listening to the radio. The Swiss commercial artist Herbert Leupin, who had produced work for Coca Cola and other multinational companies designed the official emblem, the first trademarked for the World Cup. A graphic designer, Leupin specialized in poster design, and was recognized with many international awards: he also painted and illustrated children’s books.
In this design, the football is the most central design element, and it swells the back of the goal net while an open mouthed and outstretched goalkeeper looks back in surprise. The goalkeeper also looks out at the reader of the poster. Like Laborde’s 1930 design, the figure of the goalkeeper is frozen in a moment of intense drama. It seems as if we see the goal happening in real time. Unlike Laborde’s goalkeeper though, who rises transcendent across the goal, this keeper has been beaten and the human connection is his distress at the moment of defeat.
Increasing technocracy and specialism were also evident in the resulting victory of Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany national team head coach Sepp Herberger had invited German sports shoe manufacturer Adi Dassler, owner of Adidas, to travel with the team in 1954. After reaching the Final against Hungary, the German team countered the rainy conditions in the second half of the match by replacing shorter screw-in studs with longer replacements that gave them more stability. Adidas technology achieved mythical status when the 2-2 first half draw became a German 3-2 victory with six minutes to go. This heralded a significant moment in post-war German national pride, known as ‘The Miracle of Berne’.
Eyzaguirre boots 1962 Image courtesy of the National Football Museum. Luis Armando Eyzaguirre Silva (born in Santiago, Chile on 22 June 1939), played right midfield in the Universidad de Chile football team, known as the Ballet Azul, with which he won four national championships. Eyzaguirre played in the Chilean national team who took third place in the 1962 FIFA World Cup and played one match in the 1966 FIFA World Cup in Sunderland. Eyzaguirre played 39 times for his country between 1959 and 1966.
When a new, proudly mixed-race Brazil team beat hosts Sweden in 1958 to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time, there was some redemption for their previous defeat as hosts in 1950. The team carried the trophy on the back of a municipal fire engine through the avenues of Rio to the Presidential Palace. The 1958 World Cup poster was typical of the minimalist Swedish graphic design style of the time featuring very uncluttered typography and where the words ‘Football, Futbol, Fussball’ have as much prominence as the football itself. The player who has kicked the ball is in its shadow and, again, it is a transcendent image, as the ball flies off to the top right of the image, trailing a banner of the flags of the competing nations as it soars. Also known as the International Style of graphic design, the poster promoted the Coupe de Jules Rimet and its simplicity, minimalism and functionality reflect a typical Scandinavian design style of the 1950s.
The seventh World Cup competition in Chile 1962 saw Pele and his Brazilian team secure their second successive World Cup crown, beating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final. The poster design is much more abstract, and only the ball and the globe feature on the poster, with the lettering to announce the tournament; there was no human element. This was an otherworldly design, set against a green-blue background, by Chilean sculptor and graphic artist, Galvarino Ponce intended to evoke the space-age and the recent Sputnik missions. This was an ostentatiously modern design which figuratively represented ‘world’ and ‘football’. As Brenda Elsey has shown, the Chilean organizing committee presented a small, humble and efficient country with a mainly white, European-influenced culture, embodied by the slogan ‘Because we have nothing, we want to do it all’ (Brenda Elsey Citizens and Sportsmen: Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth Century Chile Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011 p. 196). Compared with the Argentine bid which emphasised the infrastructure of a much larger country and a significant contribution to the world game embodied by their representative ‘We can have the World Cup tomorrow. We have it all’, FIFA chose the plucky underdog. The poster design therefore represents little sense of Chilean culture, but, as a diplomat as well as an artist, Ponce’s design was conscious of drawing the world’s attention to the host nation, via football.
The next blog will discuss the unprecedented commercialism of the 1966 World Cup, and see an important part of the marketing mix for the tournament, the first World Cup mascot World Cup Willie.
Thirty-two nations entered the qualifiers for the 1934 World Cup, hosted by Italy. Twelve of the sixteen teams at the Finals were European and Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, and the United States also sent teams. Uruguay declined to defend their world title. Established Italian artist, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, designed the 1934 poster with a diagonal banner of the flags in the background. At the centre, an angular, almost cubist, player is about to strike the ball. If Guillermo Laborde’s 1930 design embodied defence, Marinetti’s 1934 poster focused on attack. Marinetti had co-founded Futurism, publishing a Futurist Manifesto in Le Figaro, Paris in 1909 and football was one subject amongst many that he painted featuring large passionate crowds, struggle and velocity.
The 1934 poster unsettles the viewer as we see a tipping point; only the lettering observed vertical and horizontal planes. Marinetti frequently used poetry and lettering in his work. Some of the venue posters were more chaotic overlays of images and lettering, as if compiled and pasted together in a rush.
Marinetti was an artist in decline at the time of the 1934 World Cup. He had wanted Futurism to become the official artistic style of Italian fascism, which Mussolini resisted. The 1934 World Cup poster promoted a modern Italy, nationalistic and unafraid of political violence. Against this background Italy’s win was a major propaganda victory for the host country.
Italy not only became the second county to win a World Cup as hosts, but went on to retain the title four years later in France. As John Foot has argued ‘During the Duce’s reign, Italy won two world cups and an Olympic gold medal. Fascism was good for Italian football, and football was good for fascism (John Foot Calcio: A History of Italian Football (London: Harper Perennial, 2006) p. 33).
This was especially the case given that Olympic football lapsed from the programme of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Italy’s win in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and the 1938 World Cup hosted by France were both also ominous victories, as World War Two loomed. The Henri Desmé lithographs for the 1938 World Cup resonate with the political climate in Europe. Heroic realist style linked with commercial advertising, designed to impress. The static player dominates the design and, with his foot on the ball, by extension, the globe. Sculptural power and force would deliver the future, perhaps.
Like many fans of football, Willy Meisl began to look forward to the 1950 World Cup in Brazil at least a year before it happened. Meisl began a debate about what ‘Soccer’s Road to Rio’ meant for global football. This was the first time that England competed. English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish fans could now muse upon what World Cup football meant for their respective national teams, unlike a combined British Olympic team.
The poster for the 1950 World Cup shows us the public image of Brazil, at home and abroad. Contemporary fans would recognise the awestruck Meisl as he tried to convey the size of the logistical challenge of those seeking to travel to Brazil. In June 1950 a fleet of planes will carry a very heavily insured cargo from many corners of the word to Rio De Janeiro. The final itself will be played in Rio’s giant stadium, a masterpiece of modern sports architecture that can hold a 155,000 crowd…Many hundred thousands of pounds are involved: transport and accommodation of the 16 teams alone will swallow £100,000 (Willy Meisl ‘Soccer’s Road to Rio’ World Sports August 1949 (London: Country and Sporting Publications Ltd, 1949) p. 5).
Football-related cultural transfer was evident. Arsenal had toured Brazil to acclaim and intensified discussions of national playing styles. While Italy had retained the third championship, and the last of the pre-war World Cup tournaments in 1938 in an intensely politicized atmosphere, there was widespread sympathy for defending champions as, in May 1949, the Superga air crash, in Turin, killed many stars. Big, modern hoist cities included Sao Paulo, Rio Grande and Bel Horizonte. Rio de Janeiro was at that time Brazil’s capital (Brazilia later became capital in 1960) and the Maracanã stadium was specially constructed. Would Italy be able to win the World Championship for a third time? Or would the host nation claim the title?
The clarity of the single leg and boot design on the poster united the flags of the competing countries on the sock that provided the main diagonal feature. The boot about to move the ball, reflected the host country’s confidence. Elements of football-related cultural transfer were much in evidence, as over 1.3 million spectators took in 22 matches. By this time FIFA had 70 member nations and there were new football countries in evidence at the thirteen team Final tournament, including Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, England, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, USA and Yugoslavia. Unlike previos World Cups, in 1950 the winner was determined by a Final Round stage. The final four teams (Spain, Sweden, Brazil Uruguay) played games against each other, instead of a knockout format. Brazil were one point ahead of Uruguay going into their match on 16 July, and needed only to avoid defeat to become world champions. English referee George Reader oversaw the Final, but although Brazil scored Friaça, Uruguay took home the World Cup trophy for the second time thanks to goals by Schiaffino and and Ghiggia. A much anticipated celebration in Brazil was not to be, and this led to national shock known as the ‘Maracanã blow’. Brazil changed their shirt design for future tournaments to the colours we now associate with the team, and the “Phantom of ‘50” would resurface many times again in World Cups and internationals.
The designer for the 1950 poster was chosen by a public competition, widely mediated in 1948, a collaboration between the World Cup organizing committee and the commission for the Brazilian society of arts, led by its President Mario Polo and a judging panel of Professors Castro Filho, Henrique Salvio, and Alberto Sims. One hundred and fourteen entries were reduced to a longlist of fourteen, with four finalists and a winner J. Ney Damasceno, from Rio de Janeiro. Damasceno won a prize of thirty seven thousand cruzeiros, although little is then subsequently known of him, and he does not seem to have been an established designer. So these processes of selection are in themselves interesting for how World Cup posters were chosen to represent the nation, not just by the respective football authorities, but also artistic experts.
In the next blog we will look at the World Cups in the 1950s and 1960s, before a special edition on 1966 and how this changed the corporate promotion of World Cup tournaments.
Introduction-The Olympic Games and the World Cup
In the approach to the World Cup hosted for the first time by Russia in 2018, this is the first in a series of blogs about how poster designs, and other commercial marketing techniques, such as mascots and trademarked goods promote the tournament, even to those who are not fans of football.
The historical development of official World Cup posters provide a fascinating insight into the growth of the world’s most popular sport. There were important continuities with the modern Olympic Games, which were inaugurated in 1896 in Athens. From 1908, the Olympic Games staged a small but influential football tournament, out of which the World Cup eventually developed. Formed in 1904, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), football’s world governing body, agreed to recognise the Olympic tournament as a world championship for amateurs following the very well attended matches in Stockholm in 1912. The inter-war period included a particularly well-attended series of matches at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, won by Belgium. Uruguay won the Olympic tournaments in 1924 (Paris) and 1928 (Amsterdam).
The First World Cup and An Invented Tradition of Home Advantage
The first FIFA World Cup was hosted and won by Uruguay in 1930. This invented a tradition whereby home advantage seemed to be conferred upon the hosts but this was by no means a guarantee. Uruguay’s victory coincided with centenary celebrations of the first Uruguayan constitution, and ten matches showcased the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, built specially for the tournament. There were seven South American and two North American squads, and only four of the thirteen teams were European (Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia).
Local artist Guillermo Laborde designed an oil painting of a goalkeeper rising to tip the ball over the crossbar and, in so doing, set a tradition of winning a public competition to have his design reproduced as a World Cup poster. The original painting became a national treasure and an original in the Uruguay Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales (national art museum) has been restored and conserved recently.
Images courtesy of the National Football Museum
The Loneliness of the Goalkeeper
The Guillermo Laborde curvilinear design for the first World Cup poster in 1930 resonates with contemporary graphic and industrial trends. With a population around 2 million people in 1930, the Uruguayan economy had begun increasingly to industrialise. President José Batlle y Ordóñez had a major influence in the establishment of a circle of fine art, and business interests known as the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Montevideo in 1905. Studios were established for the graphic and decorative arts, architecture and construction and Circulo teachers included Laborde (1886-1940) who had already exhibited his work publicly.
Circulo graduates formed the core of Uruguay’s planismo movement, so-called because it derived from Cézannes techniques of building up an image with levels of opposing planes. However, natural forms including animals and plants were strong influences in Uruguyan art deco, which influenced the buildings of Montevideo in the 1920s and 1930s and design of the World Cup poster. As well as the construction of Estadio Centenario in just nine months, the iconic Palacio Salvo had been finished in 1929, and was, at that time, South America's tallest building.
The 1930 Laborde World Cup poster incorporated planismo elements, with layered contrasts of typography and the crossbar. Meanwhile, the sinuous goalkeeper provides a strong human diagonal element. We see his loneliness and isolation. The design translated to other artifacts like enameled pins and posters were reproduced in both colour and monochrome for matches. All of these items are now highly sought after collectibles. There were many stamps, programmes, ticket stubs, medals, pins, cards and other memorabilia from the first World Cup, many of which can be seen on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester. This remained a trend throughout the following tournaments with some very practical artefacts and others more decoratively embellished.
Why a Poster?
Firstly, the process of hosting a World Cup was partly reflected in the design of the poster, and social, economic and political concerns often influenced both the style and topical motifs used by the artist. Secondly, the idea of a football world championship fed into larger debates about a particular nation’s place in the global economic, political and social order. So, the posters reflected the hosts self-image, to both domestic and international audiences. World Cup posters, like Olympic artworks, and their antecedents (including cheap paper bills circulated by hand), acted as both public service announcements and metaphors for spectacle.
The development of World Cup competition out of the Olympic Games helps to explain the centrality of designing a poster as integral to the cultural identity of sporting spectacle. Posters spoke those who did not necessarily share the language of the host country and the integration of text and image became part of football’s visual lexicon. Easily read at a distance, and graphically simple so that those travelling at speed could absorb information, posters simultaneously announced forthcoming events but also spread ideas. World Cup posters distilled in typography and image complex metaphors for the host nation, the cities in which games were played and football as a world-wide cultural industry. On the one hand the host country defined, projected, and invited an international audience to participate in their celebration of football. On the other hand, regional stakeholders of various kinds had to be involved as paying spectators; local venues for the games and as suppliers of tourism services.
Whereas the Olympic Games are a multi-sport, mixed gender tournament held in a single venue, a World Cup is a quite different marketing spectacle, as a single sport, single-gender event held across cities, and, more recently by more than one nation. The visual lexicon of World Cups therefore diverge from Olympic history, with strong elements of civic self-identification for the host cities, as they simultaneously present themselves to an international audience, and to local or regional consumers. France will host the Women’s World Cup in 2019 and the branding will be quite different. This combines design history and commercial display, blending sport, politics, industrial graphics, cultural geography and national representation. But there are also strong and relatively under explored links with fine art, and high culture.
Posters have played a key role in publicizing the World Cup since its inception and, as interest in the event burgeons to new host countries, so has the sophistication of graphic design. Historians have largely neglected the confluence of these aspects of football’s history, and particularly the visual aesthetic of world sport. This extended to representations of each venue, local transport systems and related ephemera. In today’s diverse and instantaneous social and mainstream media environment, posters play an important part in setting the tone, and brand, of each World Cup. They have also become more of an aesthetic and commercial statement than a functional one, because basic information such as the times and dates of matches can be obtained elsewhere. So following blog posts will ask: what values and structures of power in visual representation have World Cup posters signified historically? How have the design features of graphic representation shaped the identity of the World Cup over time?
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.