Back in the days of chemical photography this kind of a look occurred when things went wrong (old chemicals. bad paper etc). But the look was intriguing and in rare cases ‘happy accidents’ created highly memorable images.
Nowadays a mindless digital auto-filter is expected to deliver the same effects. Truth is that really successful treatments are as rare as they ever were. No tonal treatment suits every image or is predictable.
Being tasked to deliver a specific high quality graphic/illustration effect ‘on demand’ remains as ‘challenging’ a task as it ever was. This is not least because retaining visual integrity of ‘the product’ is a priority in advertising. Mood, atmosphere and sensual textures come a big second.