We all know that beautiful packaging helps sell products, but what is the effect of a package purposely designed to be ugly — not just ugly, but gross and icky?
In December 2012, Australia took an unusual approach to curb smoking. It didn’t ban cigarettes outright, but it did ban all design branding devices on cigarette packs. It outlawed any evidence of brand distinction and personality. Gone are iconic images of rugged, independent men on horseback and slim, stylish women who look like they know how to have fun. Instead Australia imposed what it described as standardized, or plain, packaging on tobacco products. Based on the premise that great design is persuasive and sells products, Australia used reverse psychology to change attitudes. It outlawed brand design elements including bright colors, logotypes, slogans, and taglines. It ruled that packs can only use Pantone 448c opaque couche, which market researchers deemed the world’s ugliest color, and the brand name now has to be shown in a specified generic font, size and location. Health warnings have to cover 60 percent of the pack’s surface, with photographs of diseases brought on by smoking. Instead of glamorizing the “coolness” of smoking, the plain packaging aims to get people to think twice about how smoking affects their health, and discourage youth from taking up the habit at all. In the first 36 months of Australia’s program, it is estimated that there are about 118,000 fewer Australians smoking as a direct result of standardized packaging. Read More »
Every summer since 2011, Budweiser has touted its allegiance to America by rolling out packaging with patriotic themes. Its beer cans and bottles have featured the Statue of Liberty’s crowned head or raised torch. The red, white and blue stars and stripes have been presented in various slanted angles and patterns. This summer the self-proclaimed “King of Beers” has boldly gone where no brand has gone before. It dropped the renowned Budweiser logo completely and replaced it with the generic name “America.” Before you decide this is branding suicide, consider the rationale.
Budweiser was founded by Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri, around 1870. Adolphus Busch named his beer Budweiser to appeal to German immigrants like himself. He modeled the beer after a Bavarian lager made in the German town of Budweis, founded by King Ottokar in 1245. King Ottokar actually coined the slogan “The Beer of Kings.” Also, in what is now the Czech Republic, the name Budweiser name had existed in Budějovice since the 16th century. In fact, there is still a Czech beer called Budweiser Budvar.
All was well for decades since beer was mostly a local product, which didn’t travel well over long distances. But pasteurization and refrigerated freight cars turned the St. Louis-produced Budweiser into a brand known throughout the land. This forced the St. Louis brewer and the two European brewers that all called their beer Budweiser into a trademark dispute, which was resolved in 1938, with the agreement that Anheuser-Busch could use the brand name Budweiser only in North America.
Fast forward to 2008, when a Belgium-based beer giant acquired the St. Louis-produced Budweiser label and changed its corporate name to Anheuser-Busch InBev. That made Budweiser’s American roots even more confusing – this at a time when other U.S.-made beer brands were heavily cutting into Budweiser’s market share.
Budweiser decided to strengthen its American heritage by launching a major campaign during the peak beer-guzzling summer months. The New York-based design firm Jones Knowles and Ritchie was asked to create limited edition packaging for a summer-long campaign called “America is in your hands.” The 2016 marketing effort runs from May 23 through the November general election.
Temporarily replacing the Budweiser label with “America” was a bold move, but one that probably won’t confuse consumers. The graphic styling of the cans and bottles look identical to the usual packaging. Only the text has been swapped out with phrases like “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave,” “e pluribus unum,” and the lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The bottles look eerily the same as the regular ones, except for arousing an inexplicable urge to salute and sing “America the Beautiful.”
Consider this: One out of every four car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting when driving. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of teen deaths. The problem is prevalent anywhere on the planet that has cell phones and distracted drivers, as is evident by this print ad created by F.Biz in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This skid marks public service message wasn’t done by a car manufacturer or the highway patrol; it was sponsored by mobile-phone maker, Motorola. Read More »
The National Park Service turns 100 years old on August 25, 2016, and it is marking the milestone with an ad campaign aimed at raising awareness of just how diverse and magnificent America’s national parks are. More than forests, waterfalls and geysers, the National Park system actually encompasses 411 sites, including national monuments and designated historic landmarks such as the infamous federal prison on Alcatraz island in San Francisco, the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Iolani Palace in Hawaii, the World War II Japanese American concentration camp in Manzanar, California, and the gold mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. No matter where you live in the U.S., there is a National Park site nearby.
Horse racing fans were on pins-and-needles watching the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs last Saturday, but brand naming experts were probably rolling their eyes and guffawing every time the announcer called out the contenders’ names. The Derby’s naming protocol violates the most basic rules of name development. As anyone in the branding business will tell you, successful names have to be unique, memorable, pronounceable, simple, easy to spell, evocative, and trademark-able. In other words, just the opposite of Triple Crown thoroughbred names. Read More »
Food trucks and pop-up stores are proliferating all over the world, but this is the first time we have heard of a mobile lighting showroom. Created by British designer Lee Broom, the Salone del Automobile is located in a moving van that stops in key urban design districts between London and Milan. From the outside, the vehicle looks like an ordinary delivery van, but when the back door is open, it looks like an elegant Italian palazzo with Corinthian columns and decorative stucco details. The interior is painted a subtle gray with an illuminated floor for effect. It provides the perfect background for Broom’s new lighting collection Optical. The idea of a traveling showroom has many appealing, cost-effective advantages. It literally places itself directly in the path of target customers, can quickly relocate to other promising geographic markets, and limits security risks by offering the ability to park the “shop” in a garage. Read More »
Israeli ad agency BBR Saatchi & Saatchi in Tel Aviv took the claim “great taste” literally in demonstrating the quality materials that go into the making of the new Ford Kuga. It served Canadian illusionist Eric Leclerc savory hors d’oeuvre bites of the seat, steering wheel, window glass, and engine belt on an elegant silver platter, which Leclerc sampled with euphoric pleasure. The implication is that only the most scrumptious ingredients go into the making of a Ford Kuga. Whether this translates to a superior driving experience or not is debatable, but it got you to watch.
On the national branding front, the big news is that the Czech Republic has just adopted the shorter, friendlier name Czechia for all but formal occasions. The name change has been under discussion since the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993. Czechia is not the first nation to limit the use of “Republic” in its name. The Slovak Republic goes by Slovakia, the Federal Republic of Germany goes by just Germany. “Cesko” is what many Czechs call their country, but it didn’t make the cut because people like former Czech president Vaclav Havel said the name made his “flesh creep.” So, Czechia it is. Now it is up to Czech designers to promote the national brand on T-shirts, coffee mugs, soccer jerseys, and all kinds of tcotchke.
Designed by Yurko Gutsulvak in Kviv, Ukraine, the packaging for Ridna Mapka fruit juice line is noteworthy for its commanding retail shelf presence. The juice cartons have identical images front and back, with informational text printed on the flap ends. The wraparound graphics project a highly visible diamond-shape pattern when displayed side-by-side on store shelves.
For the packaging design, Gutsulvak aimed to suggest a nostalgic tone for Ridna Mapka (meaning “native brand”) to appeal to consumers who yearn for the authentic natural flavors of yesteryears. Featuring illustrations by Oleksij Volkov, the Ridna Mapka packaging evokes the style and feel of Russian design in the 1960s and 1970s. The retro look harkens to a time when fruit juices had the unadulterated taste of real fruit. Read More »
Everything about this commercial for Adobe Marketing Cloud rings true, except for rerouting the spaceship to another part of the galaxy. Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners for Adobe, this “Do You Know What Your Marketing Is Doing” ad campaign gives us an extreme look at what can happen when companies move warp speed ahead on their brand strategy before or while collecting, analyzing and understanding marketing data. Invariably reticent managers afraid to express their doubts about the chosen direction, do so at the very last minute when it dawns on them that they would be blamed for letting it go forward. Re-dos cause delays. Delays burn budgets, sometime to a crisp. One reason this TV spot is hilariously funny to so many in the marketing/design business is because it is painfully familiar. Such “war stories,” usually confessed in an inebriated state, abound. At some point, we’ve all been there. Gotta laugh so you don’t cry.
This is terrible news. Dos Equis is sending the “most interesting man in the world” on a one-way trip to Mars. On March 6, 2016, Dos Equis’s Amsterdam-based owner Heineken announced it was retiring the character played by actor Jonathan Goldsmith in favor of someone more appealing to millennials. This is in spite of the fact that Dos Equis beer sales have nearly tripled since the campaign was introduced in 2009. As portrayed by Goldsmith, the Dos Equis man is a blend of Ernest Hemingway, James Bond and Errol Flynn. He is dashing, nonchalantly fearless, at home in any situation and in any part of the world, charismatic, and open to adventures. The Dos Equis man ads, first created by EuroRSCG New York, elevated the lager from a regional brew, mostly known in Texas and California, to one of the world’s best-known brands. And it gave us one of the most memorable taglines: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friend.”
Warning to Dos Equis: The next “most interesting man in the world” better not be some hip hop dude with tattoos up the ying yang, earrings, and ever-present cell phone, or a Justin Bieber type. If he is, some older fans will be throwing beer cans at their TV. Some of us are still thirsty for the current “most interesting man in the world.”
The making of “Loving Vincent” is truly an act of love. Everything from its Kickstarter crowdfunding to eschewing CGI in favor of painstakingly painting every frame by hand makes this 80-minute film a monumental homage to the life of Vincent Van Gogh and to fine artists everywhere. Polish painter Dorota Kobriela and Oscar-winning British filmmaker Hugh Welchman of Breakthru Films began work on the world’s first feature-length painted animation in 2011, and with an infusion of Kickstarter funding are pushing forward to bring their labor of love to fruition. In an interview with Voice of America, Kobriela says they were inspired to undertake this project after reading Van Gogh’s letter to his brother saying that “we can only speak through our paintings.”
“Loving Vincent” integrates 120 of Van Gogh’s greatest paintings into a storyline pulled together from some 800 letters written by the artist in the latter years of his life. The film’s plot unfolds through “interviews” with characters closest to Van Gogh and through a dramatic reconstruction of events leading up to his sudden and still mysterious death.
Those familiar with San Francisco’s landscape will recognize the iconic landmarks depicted on Fort Point Beer packaging. Those who aren’t will simply appreciate the packaging for its lovely minimalist design and smart, consistent execution. Designed by San Francisco-based Manual, the packaging is illustrated with geometric-line drawings of the undergirding of the Golden Gate Bridge, the rooftops of old Army barracks, the windmill in Golden Gate Park, the Ferry Building clock, the Alcatraz guard tower, and other well-known sites. Like scaffolding, the graphics form an arched frame around the Fort Point brand name, setting it apart.
San Francisco’s fastest-growing craft beer brand, Fort Point Brewery is located in San Francisco’s historic Presidio, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio was originally built as a military outpost in 1776 when California was owned by Spain. It was subsequently occupied by the U.S. Army between 1846 and 1994.
The Fort Point Brewery, founded in 2014 by brothers Tyler and Justin Catalana, resides in an old Army motor pool building near Fort Point, which stands at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Fort was constructed at the entrance to San Francisco Bay just before the Civil War, circa 1854, to keep the California gold fields from falling into rebel hands — just a few historical factoids to reflect on while enjoying a can of Fort Point beer.
The newest edition of Kit Hinrichs’ and my “Obsessions” book series is on the arts and crafts made by Japanese Americans held in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. All That Remains is a sequel to my 2005 book titled The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946. While working on that book, I spent many hours reflecting on why people banished by their own country to barrack encampments fenced in by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with rifles pointed at them would take up art with such a fervor that it became an obsession to them. They scrounged for scraps of paper, bits of lumber, empty bottles and cans, and cardboard packaging to use for their art projects and scoured the desert terrain for stones, driftwood and shrubs to carve into new forms. Art served a need far beyond the aesthetic. Although two-thirds of the 120,000 ethnic Japanese forced into camps were American citizens, the older immigrant generation especially, who were in their 50s and 60s, embraced the creation of art as a lifeline. Given less than 10 days notice to turn themselves in and told they could only bring what they could carry. the adults knew their businesses, homes and all their possessions would probably be gone when they were freed to return to the West Coast. In fact, that turned out to be true.
Even successful graphic designers like Ken Carbone of Carbone Smolan Agency in New York City aren’t at liberty to do whatever they please on an assignment. Corporate clients dictate marketing objectives, brand parameters, visual subject matter, point-of-view, deadlines, budget, and a myriad other criteria. Ultimately, the client has to sign off on what you create, and the verdict on how wonderful your work is hinges on ROI, market results, elevated brand visibility, etc.
It’s not unusual to hear of designers who wrap up a long, hard day at the studio by creating for their own personal satisfaction. Designer/illustrator Jessica Hische assigned herself the task of drawing a Drop Cap a day and posting it online. Pentagram partner Paula Scher has devoted her off-hours to painting intricate maps of the world as she sees it. Ken Carbone has just concluded 365 days of creating one apple art piece every single day. Curious to know why, we sent him a list of questions. Here are his answers.
Palmitas, about an hour-and half drive from Mexico City, was like so many other poor, nondescript Mexican villages. The community of about 2,000 residents had suffered its share of youth violence and low employment when the Mexican government decided to spruce things up a bit by hiring local artists to paint the entire town in a rainbow of colorful murals. The village brought in a group of prominent graffiti artists called “Germen Crew,” and put them to work with buckets of paint and brushes. The crew repainted 209 houses covering a 20,000 square meter area. The macro mural project took five months to paint, and when it was done, Palmitas stood out for miles around. The cheerful colors had a positive effect on the community, helping to reduce youth violence, create jobs, and turn the hillside village into a scenic attraction. Read More »