Home » The Unexpected Charm Of Big Truck Ads: Cold Start

The Unexpected Charm Of Big Truck Ads: Cold Start

Cs Berliet Relaxe 1
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You know what I did this morning? I got all excited about the wildly charming design of this brochure for massive Berliet commercial trucks and started to write about this before I realized that, shit, I wrote about this same damn brochure back in November of 2022. Ugh. I’m either really predictable or this brochure has some considerable, scary power. I choose to believe the latter. So now I need to find something else. Well, since I’m so hung up on Berliet, let’s see what other kinds of design they got into, why not?

Before I do that, I want to show at least one page from that 1961 Berliet GCK brochure that captured my imagination not once, but twice, which is, if my math is correct, double-once. This page I didn’t show back in November, so hopefully you won’t think of it as a repeat:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Cs Berliet Charm 4

That colorful, late-Matisse-torn-paper look just gets me, every single time. It’s childlike and sophisticated all at once, whimsical and optimistic and it all just works. But Berliet didn’t just use this look; I found another brochure that takes a very different, but still strangely charming, approach:

Cs Berliet Relaxe 2

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So, from what I can gather, this 1959 brochure is all about the cab of the Berliet, which they seem to refer to as RELAXE, because when you’re in there, baby, you’re relaxed. It’s like a mobile day spa in there! Sure, behind you may be a couple tons of sorghum or the grayest gray gravel, but in that cab? Heaven.

The design approach here is simple, cutting out just the cab from photographs, but it’s done so effectively and with just the right amount of playfulness that it, like the illustrated approach, is charming aigh eff. Look how the antennae from those truck cabs above, top and bottom, both break their backgrounds and extend, just a bit, into the sections above them. I fucking adore that. Details like that, in unexpected places like commercial heavy truck brochures, they make it all worthwhile. Also, the spread-eagle, wingspan-doors positioning of that top image is just gold.

Also, I like how the outer lamps seem to not be another headlight, but seem to house the indicators in a little arc at the bottom, and the rest is chrome? Maybe theres a sidelight in there? I need to look at those in more detail.

Cs Berliet Relaxe 3

This trucker’s sandal(!)-clad foot breaking into the green here is another example. And, remember, this is 1959, so no Photoshop background removal tools! Some poor bastard had to painstakingly cut that photograph out of its background with an X-acto knife or something similar!

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Cs Berliet Relaxe 4

Simple, appealing, evocative design, this whole thing. And not for the general public! Regular people weren’t buying these, these were work machines! So all this charming design was targeted to, I guess, purchasing people at hauling and transport companies?

Amazing. What a world this is.

 

 

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Brau Beaton
Brau Beaton
22 days ago

Frét not, the best thing about being forgetful is that you can make new discoveries and write new articles … every day!

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
22 days ago

Yes it is amazing…I love these classic ads
Also: “It’s like a sauna in here”
-Kramer

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
22 days ago

I’m super keen on learning more about the use of the oscilloscope in the last image.

Marlin May
Marlin May
22 days ago

Something like, “In the ‘Relax’ cabin the search for silence has been the subject of very in-depth technical studies.”

MikeT-MA
MikeT-MA
22 days ago

As a formerly X-acto wielding, drafting table-bound graphic designer who came of age pre-desktop publishing, I am so here for the craft shown in this piece. So many things they didn’t have to do, but did it anyway. beyond charming. Thanks for the share.

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
22 days ago

“Elle permet enfin d’écouter la musique”. This line is gold! The cabin [design] finally permits you to listen to music!

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
22 days ago

“I…started to write about this before I realized that, shit, I wrote about this same damn brochure back in November of 2022.”
“that captured my imagination not once, but twice, which is, if my math is correct, double-once.”
Ha, yeah, is that why the headline, at least at this moment, has some confusion about article plurality agreement? Hmm, “A Big Truck” with the quotation marks would actually work, that is, The Unexpected Charm Of “A Big Truck” Ads: Cold Start would indeed be correct for article plurality agreement.
In any case, armchair editorial nitpicking aside, this stuff is indeed worth repeating, and, besides, there are plenty of readers who weren’t reading this website two years ago, so it’s all good 🙂

Aaron Headly
Aaron Headly
22 days ago

On board this new cabin, robot cabin so to speak, the driver dominates all the problems of the road.
Created for him, it brings him a well-being unknown until now on heavy truck vehicles. It is a setting that is both pleasant and functional where without fatigue it gives the best performance of his abilities.
The seduction of its new shape comes from the elegance of its sober lines, without fragile or unnecessary decorative patterns.

Carl Nichols
Carl Nichols
22 days ago

What catches my eye is despite the fact that the ‘L’ in the word ‘BERLIET’ is the center letter, it is not centered under the badge on the front of the truck. The person in charge of kerning won out over every OCD engineer and designer and got four letters on one side and three on the other.

Chronometric
Chronometric
22 days ago
Reply to  Carl Nichols

The skinny I’s have it!

Martin Dollinger
Martin Dollinger
22 days ago
Reply to  Carl Nichols

It may have to do with the grille being split down the middle and opening cabinet-like to the sides (the gap has been retouched on the main cover picture, but it‘s present in the smaller one below).

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
22 days ago

Those layout artists could do brain surgery with an X-Acto knife

Jonathan Lanni
Jonathan Lanni
22 days ago

Torch, might I recommend the 1979 promotional film “poclain system” for poclain excavators as a must watch? since I feel like you’d enjoy the hell out of it with its great footage of equipment working and pretty good animation, all with a french charm.

A. Ocolotl
A. Ocolotl
22 days ago

My god you should have talked about the last point, which I’ll helpfully translate for you:

“The seductiveness of its new looks hails from the elegance of its sober lines, without useless, fragile decorations.”

This truck:
* It is seductive.
* It is tough.
* And it will help you dominate your road problems.

This is how people got into dragonning. I get it now.

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