Spotted this collection of matchbook covers, and apart from the gift of match-based metaphors, what struck me (sorry) was how valuable this very particular media opportunity used to be.
Seeing as how so few people use or need matches now, the art of the matchbook cover has surprising parallels with many of our more usual mediums – super-constrained format, really-specific application, broadcast-appeal – and perhaps equivalent as the ‘banner-ad’ of the last century.
As a micro-format, they’re really beautiful exercises in an art of communication using illustration to get a message across. I’ve a small collection of British examples, that includes garages that issued them (petrol and matches. Yikes).
Perhaps we could take a lesson out of the style and apply the same sensibilities to online advertising – would help make the medium easier on the eye for a start.