A legendary (and legendarily nutty) art director, George Lois is best known for his series of famous Esquire covers and for conceiving MTV's first marketing campaign.
Raised in the Bronx, the son of Greek immigrant florists, Lois was part of the contingent that spearheaded the so-called "creative revolution" at ad agency Doyle Dane Bernback in the late 1950s. In 1960, he and fellow DDB creative revolutionaries Frederic Papert and Julian Koenig hung out their own shingle, launching Papert Koenig Lois; there, Lois came up with popular campaigns for Aunt Jemima, Xerox, Lean Cuisine, and Maypo. Already a star within the ad industry, he started gaining recognition beyond Madison Avenue in 1962, when he created the first of his 92 soon-to-be-iconic covers for Esquire, featuring visuals like Andy Warhol drowning in a man-sized can of Campbell's soup and Muhammad Ali as a crucified Saint Sebastian.
Lois's next major contribution to the pop-culture landscape came in the early 80s, when he was tapped to hatch a campaign for an upstart music channel by the name of MTV; his "I Want My MTV" campaign featuring pitchman Mick Jagger prompted millions of Americans to call their cable companies to demand that they carry the nascent network. A few years later, Lois was partly responsible for igniting the buzz that surrounded Tommy Hilfiger thanks to a series of ads on the back of Manhattan telephone booths. During the '90s, he worked on campaigns for Reebok, ESPN, and Pepsi. Lois has since settled into quasi-retirement. Nonetheless he looms large as an industry icon and speaks frequently at conventions; his Esquire covers, which will no doubt lead off his obituary, were the subject of a 2008 exhibition at the MoMA. [Image via Getty]