Surrender To The Artist (Pernod Ricard)

Pernod Ricard is the world’s second-largest seller of wine and spirits. The French company is famous for its two eponymous pastis and recently added Absolut vodka to their portfolio. Their approach to annual reports is the clever strategy employed by the likes of Pirelli – commission a different artist each year and allow them to art direct the report. If done well, this approach creates anticipation for an annual report – a tricky feat to pull off. Needless to say, Pernod Ricard do it well.

2012/13: Olaf Breuning

Breuning’s portraits are characterized by details arranged to break the fourth wall. You will see a light stand in the foreground; cables connecting the camera to the lights; artful clutter in the background. It shows process. In a corporate setting, the effect is charming as employees who painted a mural (all part of Breuning’s process) are photographed afterward, in a formal but comic style, decked out in paint and holding their tools. It adds a much needed splash of colour to the report.

2014/15: Li Wei

Wei’s photographs look like digital montages, but they are not. Seemingly impossible images of people suspended in the air with nothing but death beneath their feet, are in fact carefully constructed photographs that use scaffolding, wires and mirrors. The resulting photographs are comical and clever. In a corporate setting the effect is astonishing.

2015/16: Omar Victor Diop

Diop’s portraits are outstanding. His staging mimics studio portraiture setups from a bygone age but with a knowing wink. They overflow with colour and pattern, drawing the eye, redirecting it, then pulling it somewhere else. In the context of an annual report, the employees come alive in a way corporate portraiture rarely accomplishes.

2016/17: Martin Schoeller

Showing the ‘human face’ of a company is an old cliché in Annual Reports but Martin Schoeller’s style of photography actually allows Pernod Ricard to come close. Schoeller is known for his hyper-detailed, extreme close-up portraiture – regardless of the subject’s social status. In his work you may see a president and a heroin addict treated the same. The images, seen as a single body of work, create a rare intimacy and this is especially welcome in a corporate setting.

2020: Sanja Marušić

In contrast to the beautiful explosion of colour in this report, the title is somber and hopeful. This approach encompasses a range of reactions and in 2020, it fit. Marušić’s staged photography is sculptural, vibrant and gorgeous. The stage settings she builds or chooses become their own worlds and for a moment, you are transported. Employee portraits have rarely looked this good.