Your Life – Safe and in Good Hands

19 November 2021

Artistic Heritage Ina Assitalia Stories

The heavy shining armour of the medieval knight, halberd gripped firmly in his hand, loses something of its dramatic effect in the beaming child peeking out from below the helmet while effortlessly holding it up with the lightest of touches. The armour itself represents insurance, offering protection and peace of mind in the face of potential risks.

The image recalls the quote by Italian futurist painter Fortunato Depero, in which he defined advertising as: “light-hearted – cocky – exhilarating – optimistic art”.

Dante Manno, INA advertising poster (1954)

The design of the child in the armour set against a yellow background dates back to 1954. Its creator, Dante Manno (Rome, b. 1911 – d. 1996), was a renowned designer of film posters (including the posters of celebrated Italian classics such as De Santis’ Riso Amaro and Roberto Rossellini’s Europa ’51, and even the Alfred Hitchcock film Notorious). The 1950s, and even more so 1960 – the year of Italy’s economic boom – saw the rise of consumer research-led marketing techniques. The resulting graphic designs were often lively and sharp.

The management of INA during that time became aware of the need to project a snappier and more engaging advertising image for life insurance policies. An internal competition was held among the employees to find a suitable slogan. The idea proved popular, and approximately 1,200 were suggested, including for example: “The miser skimps, the spendthrift squanders, and the wise insures”. Following this, a competition was launched among Italian artists to create a design for an advertising poster for INA’s life insurance. The judging panel for this competition included well-known names from the world of business (such as Adriano Olivetti), as well as artists and authors, and was presided over by the then-president of INA, Roberto Bracco. 505 designs were selected, and five artists were awarded prizes.

Dante Manno was awarded joint-second place, together with the painters Piero Paoli and Nino and Silvio Gregori (nobody was awarded first place, as reported in the company magazine Cornache dell'INA), even though his submission is the only one currently stored in INA’s artistic archives.

Dante Manno, with his fairy-tale image of the boy in the armour, also paid homage to his teacher Duilio Cambellotti (Rome, b. 1897 – d. 1960), famous not only for his illustrations of children’s books but also as a designer, scenographer, costume designer, painter, sculptor and potter (including the iconic INA Casa tiles).