Black Madre illustrates 12 hidden ways Chicago influenced the world for Chicago City Hall

Designed in Chicago’s signature colours, the poster series is part of a new campaign from Energy BBDO for the City of Chicago.

11 February 2022

Did you know that the first mobile phone was developed in Chicago in 1973? Or that the zipper came from Chicago in 1893? Or softball in 1887? Nor did we. To highlight all of the unknown times the city has hit the cultural reset button, São Paulo-based design studio Black Madre has illustrated a poster series revealing 12 globally influential inventions and attractions that originated in Chicago. The brilliant posters are part of a new campaign for Chicago City Hall by advertising agency Energy BBDO.

Titled Chicago Tour Not In Chicago, the campaign aims to “change the perception of the Chicago brand” by highlighting Chicago city’s cultural wealth, attracting tourists and reinforcing local pride, explains the release. Alongside videos and advertisements, Black Madre created posters depicting how the city has influenced the world architecturally, gastronomically and musically – with its rich history of blues, house and gospel – to solidify its position as a pioneer.

André Maciel, Black Madre founder and director, explains that developing illustrations for a city hall was a first for the studio. “The challenge,” André continues, “was to find a language that would translate the essence of the city.” To capture this essence, Black Madre produced the posters in Chicago’s trademark colours: blue, red and white. Ingeniously, the whole design for the series is also based upon one of the “largest icons in the city”: the four red stars displayed on the Chicago flag. “In each piece, it’s possible to notice at least one point of the famous stars,” states the release.

Beyond the striking design, you’ll find a range of fascinating history and pub-quiz worthy facts throughout the posters. As well as being the birthplace of the mobile phone, Chicago – or the architecture offices from Chicago – built many of New York’s most iconic buildings, including the One World Tower. Plus, the city invented the laundry machine in 1908.

GalleryEnergy BBDO and Black Madre: Chicago Tour Not In Chicago (Copyright © World Business Chicago/City of Chicago, 2021)

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Energy BBDO and Black Madre: Chicago Tour Not In Chicago (Copyright © World Business Chicago/City of Chicago, 2021)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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