In 1952, Encyclopedia Britannica published Mortimer Adler’s monumental Great Books of the Western World series—431 works by 71 authors—covering core ideas of the Western canon. Inspired by these works and with a desire to engage the general public in cultural discourse, Walter Paepcke, founder of Container Corporation of America, initiated an unprecedented advertising campaign entitled the Great Ideas of Western Man. For 25 years, celebrated artists and designers were commissioned to create artwork that responded to quotes by leading scientists, philosophers, and academics. Great Ideas provided a platform for people such as Paul Rand, Max Bill, Herbert Bayer, Saul Bass, and René Magritte to bring attention to celebrated thinkers such as Mark Twain, Alfred North Whitehead, and Theodore Roosevelt. The series has been hailed by advertising legend David Ogilvy as “one of the best corporate advertising campaigns to ever appear in print”.
With reverence and enthusiasm, the Chicago Design Museum has renewed this historic series. In collaboration with the City of Chicago, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Chicago Design Museum produced a series of seven Great Ideas ads to be installed at the new Bus Rapid Transit stations across Chicago's downtown 'Loop Link' corridors.