La France Retro

A series of posters inspired by those for the films of Jacques Tati are urging us to visit Western France for our holidays this year

A series of posters inspired by those for the films of Jacques Tati are urging us to visit Western France for our holidays this year

The posters were illustrated by Paul Thurlby and art directed by Ruan Milborrow at mr.h for The French Tourist Board in the UK.

Each of the six posters highlights a different attraction of the region in a style which, MIlborrow says, references the spirit of Tati posters from the 60s.

The tourism sector is usually a pretty cliched and dull space when it comes to advertising – all girls in bikins, pitures of castles and ‘local cuisine’, so it’s great to see someone attempting a more visually interesting approach (although perhaps the type is a little incongruous?).

What’s also interesting is that this campaign is one of a growing number to use retro style illustration. Just this month we ran a post on a Hertz campaign from DDB that nodded toward Edward McKnight Kauffer

And Mother has been ploughing the retro furrow for some time for Stella Artois.

While CHI created these posters for Anchor butter recalling a time when ads were painted direct onto walls.

And not forgetting that the new series of Mad Men produced yet more examples of the ad industry plundering its own history, with retro stye ads running during the ad breaks on Sky Atlantic and Newsweek asking advertisers to run archive ads (see below) in a special issue dedicated to the show (covered by magCulture here).

Perhaps, as well as the obvious Mad Men connection, it’s a reflection of the fact that vintage ads are such popular items on blogs and Tumblrs – so visible and popular that it should be no surprise that their look and feel is seeping into the consciences of art directors.

Anyone spotted any more examples?



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  • That nasty times-ish lower case in the Western France ads – whats that all about? Can we have 70s beach photos next, please?

  • Nice illustration, nice general concept, but messy excecution. There is too much going on, too much little items demanding attention. Shame really, as the illustrations could work much better.

  • Paul Thurlby

    I take your comment, Willie. However, maybe you could also add a positive/constructive comment to balance your negativity? This is an advertising commission, after all, and compromises had to be made. I think the ad agency did a fantastic job amid all the changes.

  • Paul Thurlby

    Like what Jeffery has just said. If I was doing them for myself, yes, I would have kept them much more simple.

  • Ed

    Retro styling tends to resurface whenever people are strapped for cash and miserable – nostalgia as a balm for unemployment, economic downturn and/or political unrest. Which is quite nice of those lovely ad guys really.

    Nostalgia aside, nice illustration.

  • I think they are charming. And having worked on some quite similar accounts I know what an uphill struggle it is to get tourism clients to do anything that’s not photographic and bland. AND they do love their copy. I didn’t succeed so big round of applause from me. Nice colours too. How are the illos done? The look hand printed but could be clever vectors with a bit of scanning in and texture?

  • Myrna MacLeod

    These are nothing like the original Tati posters, they are badly executed, too busy and typographically poor.
    The original Tati posters had a sublime aesthetic, simplicity, and as a result, timeless graphic power.

    The French have some amazing poster designers, better to have given this brief to Phillipe Apeloig or Michel Bouvet.

  • Ville Granroth

    I’m working as an art director for Visit Finland and must say that it’s always nice to see these kinds of approaches in travel marketing. It’s still a convention in the business to show a nice photograph of a landscape rather than visualise the feeling or soul of a country or city with an illustration. It’s funny that even though these posters remind of the past they’re still fresh in the field of travel marketing.

    As a huge fan of retro visuals, I recommend a great book about old travel posters from Finland:

  • The translations in the first two are on point and cute, the last two make me weep

  • Alan Page

    These French posters are a visually refreshing change from standard travel fare, but I rather wish they hadn’t used the word ‘staycation’. It shouldn’t be necessary, and is somehow too defensive. It should have stayed part of the brief. Not part of the execution.

  • Anyone know where I can get copies of these posters? Tried the French Tourist board website but was like stepping back in the 90’s?

  • Hmmmn, they fail to really impress what the Brittany ferry journey is really like when there’s a decent swell running, been there and not fun. Agree with the general concensus, it’s a bit like harking back to the 50’s but is that really relevant, do families travelling to France really want that. I think that this is a ploy that even some of the English seaside ghost towns would want to avoid!