Packing more caffeine than Mountain Dew, the introduction of Sun Drop soda in 1930 created an entirely new soft drink category. Developed by St. Louisan Charles Lazier, the orange-flavored drink had evolved over two decades into a popular citrus mixer. In 1952 the line was extended to include a "citrus cola type" drink branded as Golden Girl Cola and marketed throughout midwest and southern states. Throughout the fifties, Obata was creating the branding, packaging and advertising for multiple Sun-Drop soda brands.
Sun-Drop lemon-lime soda was marketed as "A Delightful Beverage" and a "Refreshing Mixer", while the caffeinated Golden Girl Cola was promoted as "Refreshing as a Cup of Coffee" and always accompanied by an illustration of a bikini-clad Golden Girl sitting in a coffee cup. Calligrapher and one-time Obata partner Dick Juenger recalls working with founders Kim Obata and Alice Hausner on label designs, illustrations and advertising for the many iterations of Sun-Drop soda marketing.
Throughout the nineteenth century, hundreds of steamboats called St. Louis home. By 1948, there was only one. The "Wood River" was a permanently anchored three-deck sternwheeler that had been converted into office space for the Cassell, Watkins and Stevens art studio...and included independent offices for three artists who called themselves Obata and Associates.
Of course, our company history does not reach back to St. Louis's steamboat era, but the fact that our founders were working at the very spot where so much St. Louis history and commerce took place speaks to our deep roots in the city. For over 70 years, Obata has been at the center of the advertising and design business in St. Louis, employing over 400 talented creatives and serving clients locally, nationally and worldwide.
Long-time client Emerson Electric was deeply involved in early space-age research and development. In 1957, the company's Electronics and Avionics division accounted for one third of Emerson's total business. The 1957 annual report, designed by Obata, received a Gold Award from the Art Directors Club of St. Louis. Obata artist Oleg Stavrowsky, with past experience as a technical illustrator for McDonnell Aircraft, was the likely painter of the award-winning cover.
Learn more about Obata's seven decades of working with Emerson and other Fortune 500 companies: obata.com/obata-history/
Many talented folks have passed through the doors of Obata over our 70+ years in business. Oleg Stavrowsky, born in New York to Russian parents, became a well-known and highly-successful painter of western art. He started his career as a technical illustrator at McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis, then spent three years with Obata in the mid-fifties. Eventually, he gave up commercial art and headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he built a career in fine art painting. As he told a biographer, "Western art is my life, my joy, my income, my everything." He also had a taste for Lamborghinis. Oleg may well be the wealthiest person to have ever called Obata home.
Obata's partnership with Emerson goes back 65 years and includes two complete brand evolutions. The first logo we developed for Emerson -- introduced in 1959 -- replaced an emblem that included Saint Louis on a horse, a pyramid, a lightning bolt, five red dots and what might have been orbiting atoms. The new logo dramatically simplified and modernized the brand with an emphasis on the company initials and a stylized lightning bolt.
Our branding and identity portfolio includes work for Anheuser-Busch, Ralston-Purina, Monsanto, Emerson, The Sporting News, Energizer, Peabody and Mercantile Bank. A new brand rollout is coming soon for another well-known St. Louis bank.
During our first 30 years, Obata operated out of several unique and historic locations in downtown St. Louis. In 1980 Obata purchased an abandoned church south of downtown and began an extensive rehab and modernization effort, joining the earliest waves of businesses and individuals dedicated to saving the historic Soulard neighborhood. The church's soaring ceilings and natural light offered inspiration to a growing team of designers, artists and photographers.
The move also brought us closer to long-time client Anheuser-Busch and proved to be a magnet for several other creative firms that served A-B and followed Obata in relocating to the Soulard area. In 1990, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a story about the packaging and branding community surrounding Obata with the headline "Ideas Bloom in Designerville".
Today, the renovated church gives us plenty of room to maintain our social distance while still working together to solve our clients communication challenges. Our home in Soulard has served us well for over 40 years. We're looking forward to another 40 years.
For over 20 years, Emerson's mid-century modern Living Effects Laboratory greeted visitors to the company's St. Louis campus. Designed by Obata as a "home of the future" and constructed by homebuilders Fischer and Frichtel in 1961, the building was a research and testing laboratory for Emerson's residential lighting products and HVAC systems. Among other innovations, the roof of the house was suspended from exposed trusses to enable interior walls to be easily reconfigured.
Obata's partnership with Emerson dates back to 1955 and includes annual reports (over 50 so far), identity design, product design, corporate displays, multimedia presentations and over six decades of corporate photography.
Learn more about our long-lasting client relationships at obata.com/
Talk about a legacy. Alice Hausner, Russell Hughes and Richard Haley shared over 60 years together at Obata and in retirement, continuing to get together for a weekly lunch and always attending Obata company events. Alice and Richard were co-founders with Kimio Obata in 1948, and Russell came along about 5 years later. Amazingly, Alice and Richard were still joining company barbecues, canoe floats and bowling parties well into their eighties.
We’re eager to meet you, learn your business, and help you in any way we can. Come by the office, meet us for coffee, or conference us in — no matter how we connect, we’re always up for new partnerships.