Atipo’s Cassannet Recreates Classic Cassandre Advertisement In The Flesh

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Yves Peters | January 3, 2012

First of all, let me join the universal chorus of well-wishers and wish you and your loved ones a great new year. May it be filled with love, happiness, good health, and a swift but gruesome demise for the rating agencies that are messing up the world economy for the second time in three years yet are not held accountable in any way. May the best day of 2011 be the worst day of 2012 – if that even makes sense at all. But back to business. I had promised myself to not work on The FontFeed or any other project I consider as “work” during my week off between Christmas and the New Year. However, already on the second day of Christmas (yes, some celebrate December 26 in Europe) I received a package in the mail that almost made me break that promise. Spanish multi-disciplinary design studio Atipo sent me a fabulous promotion for their new Art Deco-inspired typeface Cassannet, a spin-off of their Grafilm project. I was so enthusiastic I could barely wait until after the New Year to post about it.


The Maltese Falcon, John Huston (Warner Bros, 1941).
A.M. Cassandre (1901–1968)
Art Deco FontList

Grafilm – discussed last year on The FontFeed – was one of the self-initiated experiments produced by Atipo in the first year after setting up their studio. It is a series of ten new movie posters for classic films, each one interpreting the graphic style of an iconic graphic designer. While some designs used type, others were hand-lettered. One of these posters was for John Huston’s seminal film noir The Maltese Falcon, re-imagined in the trademark cubist style of A.M. Cassandre. Similarly, the typeface Atipo specifically designed for this poster was based on the Art Deco lettering style used by the iconic French poster designer (see also Mark Simonson’s Mostra Nuova, and IHOF’s P22 Bifur for example).


The classic Dubonnet poster series, remade “in the flesh” by Atipo.

Atipo has now released a new, expanded and refined version of this typeface under the name Cassannet. The name is a contraction of Cassandre’s name and the wine brand for which he designed iconic advertising posters – Dubonnet. To promote its introduction, and as a tribute to Cassandre, Atipo have recreated his famous 1932 triptych “Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet” in real life.


The original Dubonnet poster series by A.M. Cassandre (1932).

The sweet, wine-based aperitif Dubonnet is a blend of fortified wine, herbs, and spices (including a small amount of quinine). Introduced in 1846 by Joseph Dubonnet, the brand-name was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 1976, and was re-popularised in late 1970s by an advertising campaign starring Pia Zadora. Dubonnet is engrained in the collective consciousness of the French (and French-speaking people) by Cassandre’s advertisement slogan “Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet”, which can still be found on walls of houses in France. The posters sporting this slogan were the first specifically designed to be read from fast-moving vehicles. This campaign also introduced the concept of the serial poster – a suite of related designs conveying a complete idea when seen in rapid succession.

In his article for AIGA Is There Anything Funny about Graphic Design?, adapted from a chapter in his book Design Humor: The Art of Graphic Wit (2002), Steven Heller explains why this advertisement works so well and still strikes a chord.

Humor is a mnemonic—something that helps (or forces) us to recollect. This can be manifest in wordplay, like a slogan or jingle, or picture play, such as a logo or trademark. An historical example of picture play is a three-panel Dubonnet poster designed by A M. Cassandre in 1932, which even today is memorable for its playful wit. In his marriage of word and image, Cassandre’s comic trade character the “Dubonnet Man” sits drinking the wine at a café table. In panel one, he is rendered mostly in outline, his partially painted arm outstretched with glass in hand; underneath, the word DUBONNET is rendered half in bold, the rest in outline, focusing the viewer’s eye on DUBO. In the second panel, the character is drinking as his outlined body begins to fill with color and detail, and another letter, the N, is now bold, revealing DUBON. And in the last panel, a completely rendered character is pouring from a bottle to refill his glass, and the DUBONNET is completely bold.

The three different typographic variations of the Dubonnet logo are clever plays of word. The first “Dubo” is an intentional phonetic misspelling of “du beau”, French for “something beautiful”, as the person in the poster admires the dark red colour of the aperitif. The second “Dubon” is literally “du bon”, French for “something good”, as he savours the good taste of the beverage. The third “Dubonnet” sees him pour another glass of Dubonnet. Back to Heller:

The fast cadence of DUBO, DUBON, DUBONNET is appealing for its almost rhythmic syncopation, but there is something else going on here—in addition to the sophisticated verbal and graphic tricks, Cassandre used a more fundamental aspect of humor to achieve the final result, an activity called the “play principle.”


Spread from the brochure promoting the Cassannet typeface and poster series.

The Cassannet typeface is a simple and balanced display sans with very geometric letter forms. Its characteristic shapes are imbued with the essence of the Art Deco era, yet with a contemporary twist. The two weights and outline variant come in capitals and small caps, with a multitude of stylistic alternates and cap ligatures. Cassannet can be downloaded for free simply by tweeting about it. If you like the typeface, Atipo encourages you to contribute with a “pay what you want” donation.

The three 310 mm × 420 mm posters are documented in a gorgeous 32-page brochure of the same size, four-colour printed on heavy stock with Japanese stab binding. A PDF of this brochure can be downloaded from the Cassannet website.


Cassannet from Atipo on Vimeo.

Just like with the previous two projects discussed on The FontFeed, Atipo have produced a beautiful video about the creation of this poster series.

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3 Comments:

  1. Is it just me or does this type of work look strangely similar to the work of Alexa Meade?

    I don’t think it’s cool to use other people’s concepts (especially in commercial use).

    Posted by Žiga Artnak on Jan. 4, 2012
  2. No, I think the execution of this type of work looks vaguely similar to the work of Alexa Meade. But the concept and intent are entirely different and original. You should always look past beyond superficialities before saying such things.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 5, 2012
  3. Woot ! What a fantastic work !

    Posted by Aurélien Foutoyet on Jan. 5, 2012

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