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014. Matchbook Delight! Part 4, Flamingo Hilton.

by James Black.

I present the first of many Las Vegas casino matchbooks in my collection, this one from the Flamingo, historically the greatest of all the Las Vegas resorts. We can presume this matchbook is no older than 1974, for according to Wikipedia, that was the year in which the Flamingo was renamed “The Flamingo Hilton”. It has a fine 1970s look, and two-color printing on white card stock – if you can only have two colors, then pink and black seem the most appropriate choices when you’re designing for the Flamingo.

The typographic identity for the Flamingo Hilton at this period is incongruous. Today, the Flamingo resort uses the same iconic script font that was used back in 1947; here in this 1970s matchbook, however, we see that the Flamingo was using a blocky, all-caps, modified version of the Bauhaus typeface. This typeface employed rounded forms wherever possible, such as the capital “A” and an “N” that looks like an outsize lower-case “n”. The letters are embossed to project from the surface, luxuriously, enhancing their roundish character. This logo looks more dated today than the original 1940s script logo does; and it also conveys the impression that the new owners of the Flamingo thought that what the Flamingo really needed was to modernize its image. We see the logo jauntily tilted about 10 degrees from horizontal to give it some glamour. The legend “THE MOST EXCITING HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS!” in condensed all-caps is from the post-Helvetica school of earnest and positive declaratives.

The backside of this matchbook is kind of pathetic. Perhaps the corporate giant Hilton was incapable of deciphering the cool-medium style by which pulling slot machines in a smoky room all night long can be repackaged to Middle America as sexy, elegant and sophisticated nightlife. The drawing is an illustration of the tower sign that stood outside the Flamingo at the time, a marquee with a palm tree growing out of its head. The marquee stupidly says, “ALWAYS A GREAT SHOW!” The standard brushscript typeface of “The Fabulous” clashes with the Flamingo Hilton logo. The ineptness of this design belies the corporate giant. Maybe the strategy is intentionally to make the Flamingo look like a bunch of naive yokels, unthreatening, less fierce in their fleecing of customers.

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