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Pirelli’s “Italy on the Move” Advertising Campaigns Now Online

Advertisements, sketches, audio-visuals, and paste-up layouts are just some of the materials used for advertising Pirelli products that have now been published in the section of the website devoted to the Historical Archive, which is now being expanded with the series of medium- and large-format prints concerning car tyres. These also include the press proofs of the advertising campaign created by the graphic designer and architect Franco Grignani in 1955-6.

During this historic period, when motorisation was growing exponentially, Pirelli placed its bets not only on manufacturing increasingly specialised tyres but also on promoting them through the work of artists and intellectuals, creating a communication strategy that we would refer to today as cross-media. Newsprint, posters, cinema, direct advertising, and culture: the ‘Direzione Propaganda’ worked across the board to tell the story of the latest models of tyres launched on the market for all manner of vehicles, seasons and driving conditions. Ezio Bonini’s and Pavel Michael Engelmann’s graphics were thus accompanied by those of Franco Grignani, with a series of seven advertisements on the theme of long, tiring journeys made more comfortable and carefree by the use of Pirelli Stelvio tyres.

Playing on three key concepts (flexibility, durability and road-holding), Grignani gave the technique of collage a new, modern twist, conveying the idea of “something that recalls decals and restoration, and fragments of ancient painted walls”, as Leonardo Sinisgalli wrote in “Advertising in Italy” in 1956. Rotations, torsions, divisions and futuristic deformations move his images, creating new visual spaces and coming together in a different way of creating art, and in a different way of seeing and a different way of thinking. For Grignani, visual communication was not so much a matter of “showing” but of “seeing more”.

Grignani looks at art as a means for getting inside things, to understand them better: “My investigations have always involved looking at the inside of objects and understanding the reason why of things.” Just as Luigi Emanueli, a key figure in Pirelli’s Research and Development Department, considered scientific and technological research to be the means for entering into the merit of things and innovating: “Adess ghe capissaremm on quaicoss: andemm a guardagh denter” (“Now we’ll understand something, let’s go and look inside”) was his motto. Showing how, at Pirelli, art and science, culture and innovation all speak the same language.