One Black Horse campaign stands out from all the rest for its originality and longevity. The D’j’ever? ads ran from 1927 to 1946, always in the same format: a short, usually four-panel comic strip featuring a man caught in a blunder or looking ridiculous at home or at the office, with friends or with his “better half.” In each case, drinking a Black Horse rights the situation, resolves the disagreement or dispels the uneasiness.
These ads idealized the product, implying that it could solve any and all problems. The realistic aspect of the situations encouraged readers to identify with the main character. The brewery’s aim was to build a positive brand image, prompt consumers to buy the brand and persuade them to remain loyal to it.
During the years when the Order in Council prohibited the depiction of brewery products, the D’j’ever? ads were modified and took on a moralizing tone. A man is admonished for improperly addressing his mail, or caught exceeding the fishing limit or driving recklessly. In the last panel he recognizes his wrongdoing and laughs about it. Although no Black Horse beer is consumed, the brewery’s name appears at the bottom of the page.
Musée de Lachine holds 138 ads from the D’j’ever? series, 83 of which are signed by the Quebec cartoonist and illustrator Arthur G. Racey. Many remain anonymous, perhaps done by Racey’s assistants. A few are signed by the Canadian cartoonist John Collins and one by the American cartoonist Creig Flessel.
cahier_tas_pas.pdf: Volume 3 of D’j’ever? / T’a’ pas ? comic strips, signed Racey, 1930; produced by Stevenson & Scott Limited, advertising agency, Montréal. Gift of Michel and Jacqueline Ste Marie, RG-1999-575