The Kennedys and J.Crew

The clothing company J.Crew was once known for its preppy Nantucket origins and it still has an upper crust nautical patina as part of its branding.

Interestingly, the Kennedy family was very aware of branding and what a nautical image could do for its political fortunes.  That’s according to James Graham, author of a new book, Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea.  One of the points Graham makes is that the Kennedys knew that images of them sailing would accomplish several things:  make them look outdoorsy, full of “vigor,” and give them a touch of elegance and Madison Avenue appeal.  In other words, images of Kennedys sailing would enhance their brand.

But more important than the public relations value of pictures of the Kennedys in a sailboat, the author says sailing underscored the family’s unity and competitive spirit — traits that served them well; it was a metaphor for the challenges the family faced.  That little sailboat, Graham writes, accomplished a lot more than just memorable photos of a beautiful couple.

Even so, those pictures of JFK and Jackie on that sailboat are singular pieces of iconography that few ad agencies can possibly match.  Here’s a link to the interview with Graham, which includes many of those famous images.

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