Sky Ferreira (whose debut album may finally be coming out soon) is featured in a new ad where she describes the colors in her life, . . .

. . . part of the campaign for the A/W 2013 collection for United Colors of Benetton.

Benetton should consider reviving Ken Nordine‘s tongue-in-cheek psychological profiles of “Colors.”

Ken Nordine has one of the great radio voices, as easily recognized at one time as (movie trailer guy) Don LaFontaine‘s later became.  But where LaFontaine’s voice sounded like a pronouncement from on high, Nordine’s is far more amiable, someone you would like to tell you a story.  And stories he told on his various “Word Jazz” albums, usually amusing, sometimes twisted stories, kind of Kafka with a wink.

In the early to mid-’60s, Fuller Paint Company hired Nordine to do 10 radio spots.  Each began with the synesthetic slogan, “The Fuller Paint Company invites you to stare with your ears at yellow.”  And ended with, “The Fuller Paint Company––a century of leadership in the chemistry of color.”  In between were cute, slightly surreal descriptions of the personalities of the various hues, all over light instrumental mood music.

The ads were so popular listeners called in to request them, but radio stations do not replay ads for free and the campaign ended after 13 weeks.

Nordine had so much fun doing the spots, though, he went back into the studio to record some more.  He stripped the mentions of Fuller Paint and released a 24 track album called Colors, later expanded to a 34 track CD.

Some very talented animators have added visuals to the stories of Green . . .

. . . Brown . . .

. . . and most of the spectrum:

But the one that might best match Benetton’s longstanding promotion of diversity is this spot.  Just a few years after Crayola Crayons renamed their “flesh” colored crayon “peach” in 1962, Nordine highlighted the wide array of skin-deep tones that make up flesh:

In 1991, Byron Kim began to document that variety of complexions in his work Synecdoche, now part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art:

These recognitions, even celebrations of diversity make the reaction to the recent Cheerios ad featuring an interracial couple that much sadder.  But there is hope, as seen in this video of kids responding to that ad and the racist backlash against it:

One thought on “Colors

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