Trucks at Work

Catching up with an iconic image maker

There’s an interesting follow up to last week’s post about the new 2014 Chrome and Elegance truck calendar crated by master photographer Roger Snider and Carl Carstens of Rockwood Products; specifically regarding how Snider managed to track down one of the brains behind the “Class Pays” truck advertising campaign designed to promote Peterbilt Motors Co. products almost 40 years ago now.

Snider shared with me that after a long search he managed to track down and interview Pierre Jacot, the original creative director of the Peterbilt "Class Pays" advertising campaigns and calendar shoots from 1975 to 1994 as a partner in a small advertising agency located in San Francisco.

Now 85, Jacot (seen at right) lives somewhat of a rustic life with no internet connection, no computer, and only a single analog land line in his home.

Yet Snider found it took very little prodding to get Jacot to open up about his experiences trying bring forth the “artistic elements” inherent in big rigs not just to truck enthusiasts but to the general public as well.

Originally from Switzerland, Jacot had grown up immersed in what one might dub “European fashion culture,” one focused on elegant evening gowns, creative hair styles, and such – a “look” if you well adopted by Hollywood movie stars.

Jacot regaled Snider with tales about the road trips involved in crafted the truck-themed advertising campaigns and calendars of yore. In Peterbilt’s case, it often took a month of travel to scout locations, hire models, and transport the chosen truck models from the factory to the photo shoot – often driving them straight off the production line to their “close up,” which often could be several hundred to a thousand miles distant.

But it’s the “aesthetic effort” that Snider most admires about how manufacturers and others tried to draw out the intrinsic artistic worth of within hard-working road iron.

“These were photo shoots crafted to celebrate the design of trucks in combination with sophisticated European fashion influences,” he explained to me. “I’m taking up that torch, to a degree, to prove there is still a market for this approach to capturing the truck’s image: To craft a ‘classic’ statement about trucking, if you will.”

It’s certainly impressive work to see – and you can view some of the 2014 Chrome and Elegance shots, plus some candid backstage scenes as well, by clicking here.

It’s as true a celebration of the truck as art as you’re ever going to find, I think. 

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