Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Ghost signs (26): back to life

Painted wall advertisements didn't cease to be created in the 1960s, but they did change. Today, they tend to be painted onto the actual business premises and are generally less ambitious, a topic I might return to in a later post. However, on a recent visit to Paris I was pleased to see this splendid creation on the boulevard Montmartre, dated April 2009.

I was passing on a bus at the time so couldn't check that it's actually painted; close examination of the photo (left) suggests so. What is certain is that the style and placement of those earlier adverts has been colourfully recreated, to great effect. Articles mourning the disappearance of a Savon Cadum ghost sign from this very wall indicate that it has been recreated by popular demand rather than as part of a wider campaign by the brand.

As for Cadum soap, it first used the baby in its advertising in 1912. The infant soon appeared on the walls of Paris, as well as in pharmacies and on posters and newspaper adverts. A year later, the rumour began that the model for the Cadum baby had died, prompting the company to put inserts into newspapers urging readers to look at the millions of lively Cadum babies all around them. The baby entered popular culture; surrealist Alfred Courmes painted a madonna and child with the Cadum baby in the role of Jesus.

After the Second World War, the baby disappeared from Cadum's adverts and then from its packaging. However, since the 1980s it has made reappearances in retro adverts and soap wrappers, while the phrase bébé Cadum has kept its place in French vocabulary.


Adam said...

I used to work near here and I can tell you that it is an original sign that has been 'renovated'. In fact, I have never seen it in the condition you have captured it here. It has always been clearly visible from the street, but it had faded quite a lot. I guess it has been repainted now as it is one of the few remaining examples in the city. By who though?

CarolineLD said...

Just what I was wondering! From the articles linked to in the post, it seems that when the building was renovated late last year, the original sign was rendered over - but I haven't found anything about its 'reappearance'. Although it's dated April 09, there's no signature.

Minnie said...

Who/how/why/when: I suppose if you enquire at the Mairie, there must have been permission sought/granted there? Great post! Intriguing, as ever.
Interesting the use of baby/child in soap advertising (the Pear's child qv). I suppose due to association's one of purity, that probably couldn't made today.