A picture is worth a thousand words.
It’s one of the most famous phrases one has ever heard and it will probably still be known in the far future. Back in December 1921 the advertising trade journal Printers’ Ink ran an ad which read: „One Look is Worth A Thousand Words“. Fred R. Barnard – the creator of this slogan – was actually referring to the benefits of advertising on street cars. The subtitle however was „so said a famous Japanese philosopher, and he was right“. Nobody seemed to argue with this claim because, well, there was no Google, right?
Six years later Barnard would use the sentence in another ad, this time slightly changing it into: „One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words.“ Again nobody seemed to care that this time Printers’ Ink was suggesting a Chinese origin. At least they got it right the second time since it is a well known Chinese Proverb. But no matter if the picture is worth a thousand words or ten thousand dollars. Nevertheless – a cliché was born.
Well, we now know that it is a quote said by no one specific. The wise Chinese man created it and the even wiser American man sold it. Oh, I see a pattern here.
As usual, people have of course expressed their opinions about this famous quote. Like Bo Bergström, a Swedish author, lecturer and creative director, who did a pretty great job making this point of view very clear.
“A picture says more than a thousand words, only as much as a thousand words say more than a picture. A thousand apples don’t taste any better than a pear, and a thousand pears don’t taste any better than an apple. The apple tastes different to the pear, no matter how many of them there are. A thousand words say something different to a picture.”
Thanks for reading!