Leica Celebrates History's Most Iconic Photos by Not Showing Them at All

A hashtag conjures all, in work by Havas Paris

On Instagram, there are 23,752,533 posts containing the hashtag #boxing. And yet, if you ask most people to think of a boxing photograph, a single image taken on May 25, 1965, will immediately come to mind.

Leica, the camera maker, has some fun with the hashtag-crazed Instagram generation in a new campaign by Havas Paris. A series of ads celebrates iconic photos from history (many of them taken with Leicas) by not showing them at all. Instead, the ads just show hashtags—among them, #Vietnam, #Cuba and #kiss—to conjure single mythical pictures amid the sea of amateur shots.

"Iconic as Leica," says a line of copy in the corner.

The campaign is appearing in magazines and in social media. It is also exhibited at the Leica gallery.

"In the age of hashtags and Instagram filters, everyone thinks they are a photographic genius. So, how to distinguish a great photographer from an Instagram photographer? Simply the cliché. The cliché that stands out. The one that stays. The one that is anchored in collective memory," says Stéphane Gaubert, executive creative director at Havas Paris.

"The 'No Photo' campaign is an ode to the great photographers who shot with Leica cameras. To those who made their mark on their history and their era. Through this interactive campaign we have given people the opportunity to tap into their memories to see photographs without actually seeing them. Proof that photography is an art. An art that we must continue to nurture."

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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