Blown-Away Man, 1978

Rarely has an advertising image been hailed as a pop culture icon. In that rarified company of Marlboro Man and Benetto Pieta belongs this 1978 photograph by Steven Steigman, which would later be known as the Blown-away Man. The ad for Hitachi Maxell, the Japanese manufacture of stereos has since been parodied from Family Guy to P.Diddy, and to this day, has been recycled and reused by Maxell is its ad campaigns. The ads showed hair and tie of a man sitting in a Le Corbusier chair — along with the lampshade and martini glass next to him — being blown back by the tremendous sound from speakers in front of him.

Steigman wanted a model with long hair (for obvious reasons), but when a model could not easily be found, Steigman used a makeup man working for his ad agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves, a man by the name of Jac Colello. To achieve the wind-blown position, Steigman put tonnes of hairspay on the model’s hair, and tied some hair strands to the ceiling with fishing lines. The lampshade, tie and martini glass were also likewise tied to fishing lines.

The campaign went out as a two-page advertising spread in Rolling Stone in 1980. It was instantaneously a hit, a powerful statement that music has power and force to move the mind and the soul. After the wide success of the ad, the same concept was re-used for television ads throughout the 1980s (and revived in 2000s), showing the chair, the drink and the lamp being pushed away by the sound waves and the man catching his drink before it slides off the table. Music used was Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” or Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” (the latter with musician Peter Murphy of the group Bauhaus as the man in the chair).


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