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Johnson, Mike (ed.) / Leblanc Bell : A newsletter for music retailers, educators, employees and friends of G. Leblanc Corporation
(May 6, 1996)

Ad venture,   pp. 25-31

Page 30

continued from page 28
ad (page 29, upper left). The
headline reads, Her secret.
Could it be the L-70 by
Leblanc? The text reads, in I
part, "And with our famous
lady's smile, there's a spe-
cial kind of mystery
instilled in the soul of
this artist-caliber instru-
ment... Not just another    :
clarinet. A work of art.-
The illustrator decided not
to change her knowing
smile-only her hand posi-
tion, as she readies to play
a low F.
In the early '80s, with the
Cold War dearly waning,
an ad for Holton French
horns (this page, at right)
played upon previous ten-
sions. Entitled Soviet disloy-
alty spied in Washington!,
it features an actual letter
written by a man who at-
tended a performance of
the Bolshoi Opera in Washington, DC.
Intent upon inspecting the Soviet
horns, he looked into the orchestra pit
and was surprised to see Holtons. He
thought enough of the experience to
send us the note.
In 1980, Leblanc promoted the Vito
clarinet by means of the most "hard-
sell" ad we've ever produced (see page
31, top). Headlined One way to sell
you ours is to show you theirs, it shows
a photo of a clarinet with call-outs
pointing to various parts on "their"
clarinet in comparison to ours.
A sample of the copy reads, "Their
trill keys have the usual staggered con-
struction, so key pads have to slide
over angled tone holes. Ours have an
exclusive in-line arrangement that lets
each pad make direct 900 contact with
the tone hole. And our tone holes are
located above the water line, to virtu-
ally eliminate gurgle."
Beginning in 1987, Leblanc experi-
enced something of a creative renais-
sance that introduced a wealth of
visually exciting advertising. The
spring issue of the Bell that year
contained an item in its Grace Notes
column that Leblanc had retained
Xeno/Chicago to handle its advertis-
ing and promotion. The agency had
won international acclaim for its con-
temporary vision and style, and the
Chicago Tribune called Xeno's work
"the hottest graphic design in Chi-
cago-and maybe the world."
In the early '80s, Leblanc got on the dltente bandwagon (remember ditente) with this
testimonial to thawing relations with the Soviets (remember the Soviets?).
Leblanc's relationship with Xeno
used as its starting point the redesign
of the existing Leblanc logo, a stylized
depiction of the bell of a wind instru-
ment. With computer-assisted graph-
Leblanc advertising
campaigns will continue to
evolve, experiment and, at
times, "push the envelope."
But our commitment to
music will be unwavering,
regardless of the visual
techniques that are used
to express it.
ics (still a novelty in 1987), Xeno cre-
ated a bold, three-dimensional color
image of the logo. The new Leblanc
tagline, "World-class instruments from
the world of Leblanc," appeared as
"soundwave" emissions from the in-
strument. The result was a thoroughly
modern image, with graphic drama
reminiscent of classic print advertising.
Xeno, like Leblanc, used modern tools
with a respect for tradition, creating a
"world-class" identity.
While occasionally running full-
color ads, Leblanc had run most of its
advertising in black-and-white, occupy-
ing fractional space (that is, less than
a full page). In striking contrast, the
company abandoned all of its previ-
ous ads and began to place only full-
page full-color advertisements. This
change, in combination with the dar-
ing new visual look, truly caused a stir
in the music industry.
Although previous work had used
brilliant photography or appealing il-
lustration, Leblanc had now ventured
into its most graphic and visually dy-
namic phase to date. In August of 1987,
Leblanc and Xeno launched a striking
new series. The ads showcased the
work of Chicago illustrator David
Csicsko and featured dazzling three-
dimensional sets constructed from
painted and folded paper. One ad in
particular surfaced as a representative
of the entire series, that for the Le-
blanc LX clarinet with its paper sculp-
ture of the Eiffel Tower (see page 29,
upper right).
The next year brought a second Xeno
series of six ads and featured back-
grounds by Chicago artist Will North-

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