Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Maidenform Middle Ages

 The blog Quid plura? focuses on American medievalism and it is always good. The most recent entry, however, is really outstanding. An excerpt:
Maidenform’s “I Dreamed…” campaign, which began in 1949 and ran for 20 years, was apparently so successful that it’s still studied in business schools. The other ads weren’t medievally themed, but they all showed a shirtless woman in some professional or historical setting. The “medieval maiden” ad stands out, though, for its fidelity to its source.
Place the ad and the tapestry side by side and you can see how little got removed (other than the maiden’s blouse).The heraldic symbols on the banner (and on the unicorn’s little Thundershirt-shield) are intact, even though they’re meaningless now. The grimacing lion is gone; modern people might have have been distracted by him or found him comical. The woman no longer holds the unicorn’s horn but caresses it near its mouth. She’s also been decked out in a hat on loan, I would guess, from the neighborhood gnome.
Maidenform was determined to portray not just some fantasy scene, but a real and very specific medieval work. Why?


  1. from Wikipedia...

    This very successful advertising campaign was originated by Harry Trenner and his wife Florence Shapiro Trenner. Harry Trenner was, at that time, working for the William Weintrob Advertising Agency in New York City, and Maidenform was one of his accounts. They both would tell the story that they were sitting around the kitchen table after dinner in their home in the Wykagyl Park section of New Rochelle, New York. They hit on the idea for the ad and Harry took it to the agency which expanded it and showed it to Maidenform.

  2. Thanks for the link, Steve! This post has proven to be more popular than I expected...