Advertisers have largely led the trend, first by embracing illustration as a handy way of helping a sceptical public rekindle its love affairs with their products when photos just make the public even more dubious.
Illustration helps some advertisers dodge regulators and ease the responses of a critical public. For instance, in 2005, guidelines for advertising alcohol in the UK changed, and it became impossible to show sexy people having a good time while drinking alcohol. How do you make your brand fun without showing people having fun while using it? Stella Artois went with a well-received illustration-based campaign for its beers.
AMV/BBDO’s ad's for the Economist by Craig Ward and others integrate the message into images with trademark wit.
Mid-decade, faced with a public that was increasingly anti-junk food and anti-corporate, Coca-Cola turned to illustration for its ‘The Coke Side of Life’ campaign. And of course, where the big junk food and alcohol brands lead, the rest follow.