Back when air travel was glamorous and exotic, Pan Am hired the New York–based graphic designers Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar to create its corporate branding. If you recognize the logos of NBC, PBS, Univision, Chase, and Mobil you have Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv to thank (well, it’s more likely that the corporations are thanking them).
In the 1970s, the firm created an ad campaign for Pan Am to make the still-novel concept of air travel seem mouth-wateringly desirable. “The concept for the posters was simple: to stand out from the competition by getting great images from Magnum photographers, and letting the images have full effect by minimizing the country name and Pan Am logo,” says Tom Geismar. “The poster series was one project in an extensive graphic identity program for the airline, as part of which the name was shortened from Pan American World Airways to the vernacular Pan Am and set in the straight-forward Helvetica typeface.”
Judging from the gorgeous beaches, lush jungles, and awe-inspiring sunsets depicted, the studio succeeded in evoking wanderlust that could only be fulfilled with a passport stamp and plane ride.
It’s almost enough to make one forget what economy class is like today.