Mello Yello, and stacks of color copies

Tom Courtos’ mom would be very proud.

As mentioned in earlier posts, my first job was at a New York firm called Lois/Chajet Design Group, where I had the privilege of working with AIGA Medalist George Lois and Clive Chajet. And one of the clients we were lucky enough to work with at the time was Coca Cola. This was the late 1970s and we were doing some groundbreaking work on new brands including Mello Yello and Fresca.

So needless to say the latest issue of Brandweek caught my attention. It features an article on the new Mello Yello design, an obvious attempt to position the brand with a young audience by using retro inspired brand graphics.

The image above compares the original design, featured in the AIGA archives from 1979, and the new look. Fascinating.

For me this also brings back memories of our office’s first piece of hi-tech equipment, a Xerox color copier. Now no doubt this was a major investment for Clive, probably paying huge sums . . .  by the copy. Tom Courtos, the brilliant designer of the Mello Yello package, and one of several designers that I worked with including Kurt Weis and Dennis Mazzella who were members of the original crew that came out of Tom Golden’s CBS studio in the 1960s, fell in love with the device. And that’s putting it politely, he was obsessed.

I still remember the neatly stacked rows of color copies on Tom’s desk with more hiding in the flat files. He would cut and paste them for hours to find the right color combinations. And the absolutely incredulous look on Clive’s face as he walked by. No doubt adding up in his head the cost of the prints he had just seen on Tom’s desk.

Its nice to know that Stag&Hare, the creators of the most recent Mello Yello design, are still getting some use from Tom’s brilliance, Clive’s generosity, and those stacks of color copies.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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