Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has explored the scientific and natural wonders of the planet in magazines and books that are now published in 39 languages. The yellow border that frames its magazine covers has been adopted as its official logo, but most readers have a clear impression of the kinds of photographs and images that they associate with the National Geographic brand. This print ad campaign for National Geographic Arabia certainly fits that model. Conceived by Classic Partnership Advertising Dubai with creative direction by Satyen Adhikari. the ads depict exotic far-off places on the planet to excite the viewer’s wanderlust. A closer look, however, reveals that the images are localized to appeal to consumers on the Arabian Peninsula. The creatures, people and landmarks shown don’t include anything from the United Arab Emirates that I can tell. There are polar bears, a gorilla, buffalo and dolphin, an Eskimo, American Indian, Spanish flamenco dancer and astronaut, and there’s the Hollywood sign, Easter Island statues, Taj Mahal and Leaning Tower of Pisa, but nothing that seems iconographic of the Arabian Peninsula. That makes sense since the local sights are not particularly mysterious if you happen to live there. The tagline, too, is quaintly translated as “Stay Curious Always.” Interesting how the ads for National Geographic Arabia are consistent with the global brand, but tailored for a specific market.
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Public service announcements (PSAs) mean well, but often times they play on people’s fears, guilt or soft-heartedness to get viewers to pay attention. That’s why these PSAs from the British Heart Foundation are so refreshing. Produced by Grey London and directed by Steve Bendelack, the new Mini Vinnie CPR ad is a sequel to one done featuring British actor/pro football player Vinnie Jones. Embedded in the spoof are some valuable tips on how to give hard and fast hands-only CPR in an emergency. These entertaining ads follow in the tradition of the British Heart Foundation’s PSA, starring British actor/playwright Steven Berkoff on how to identify the symptoms of a heart attack. They are all about stayin’ alive.
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The exhibition poster features the ancient Chinese character for kome.
A fascinating exhibit is currently on display at 21_21 Design Sight in Midtown Tokyo. Created by renowned Japanese designer Taku Satoh and anthropologist Shinichi Takemura, “Kome: The Art of Rice” presents 35 design pieces by leading Japanese artists and experts in rice cultivation. What makes this show so intriguing is that a food staple as humble as a grain of rice (or “kome” as the Japanese call it) could be shown with such aesthetic sensitivity and with such a thoughtful exploration of the role that rice played in the historical, cultural and spiritual traditions of Japan.
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This is a car commercial inspired by epic themes found in Herman Melville’s 1851 classic “Moby Dick.” Told by a tormented Alaska tow truck driver, played by David Florek, the modern-day Ahab is fraught with frustration, yearning and regret over the car that kept escaping his grasp, even in an arctic blizzard. Created by San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners, the commercial spins an overblown account of trying to hook the wily Audi Quattro. Though exaggerated to mythic proportions, the tale of the tow truck driver versus the Audi Quattro is not anything like the story of Ahab’s obsessive and vengeful pursuit of Moby Dick, the great white whale that chewed off his leg and ultimately destroyed his Pequod ship and him along with it. But the comparison makes a wonderful yarn, especially when you consider that the commercial is really about Audi Quattro’s four-wheel drive system — which would really be boring if the narrator told it straight.
To promote the seventh and final season of the “Mad Men” series, AMC asked the acclaimed Milton Glaser to design a poster that encapsulated the late 1960s. Set in a New York advertising agency, the popular TV drama spans the decade of the Sixties, beginning with the Eisenhower-Kennedy years when women wore bouffant hairdos and sweater sets with pearls and men wore grey flannel suits and hats, all the way through to the youth-obsessed counterculture era of mind-altering drugs, mini-skirts, bell-
Less than a decade ago, a billboard was essentially a printed image blown up to a gargantuan size. The picture didn’t move, respond to what was happening in the environment around it, nor interact with passersby. How times have changed, and with it, the types of skills designers need to execute their ideas. Even printed pieces are not static anymore, what with the option of Augmented Reality movement and sound.
Stopp of Stockholm produced this subway billboard for a Swedish cosmetic line called Apolosophy by Apotek Hjärtat. Connecting ultra-sonic sensors to the billboard screen, Stopp made what appeared to be a “still photograph” of a young model come alive. Calibrated to react to arriving trains but not to passing passengers, the sensors made it look like the breeze from the passing trains were tousling the model’s hair. After the train went by, the model returned to her “still” repose. What a delightfully simple idea and brilliant use of technology.
It’s not always as simple as applying a single set of graphic standards across the board when a brand expands into foreign markets. In some cases, the brand name may be difficult to pronounce in the native language or the letters may translate into a word that is negative or obscene. Or the graphic mark may include a detail that may be perceived as insulting or culturally taboo. The challenge for brand designers is to adapt the logo to the region, while preserving enough elements to make it recognizable in every part of the world. Ideally, travelers to a foreign country will recognize the brand identity on sight even if the letters or image differ from what they are used to in their own culture. See if you can name these brands. (Answers after the jump.)
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The weather was reportedly mild when TBWA Canada filmed this 2014 Nissan Rogue commercial in Toronto last fall, so it seems prescient that they so accurately recreated the monster blizzard that would assault the Northeast this winter. Who knows, maybe in the brutal whiteout conditions of the recent Polar Vortex, real zombie snowmen were angrily roaming about wreaking havoc. This 60-second spot, which plays like a trailer for a sci-fi thriller, was directed by Mark Zibert, with production by Sons and Daughters, post-production by The Mill, and TBWA executive creative direction by Allen Oke.
Without a strong concept, illustration is just glorified doodling. The same can be said of design as well. Those entering these professions need to exhibit more than technical skill; they need to engage their minds and imaginations to get at the crux of the story they want to tell.
I was reminded of this while watching Craig Frazier’s video. A prolifically talented illustrator who still sketches thumbnails with pen and ink and cuts his final image out of rubylith film, Craig explains. “If there is anything magical about making illustration, it happens at the sketch stage. That’s when the idea comes out of the pen. The DNA of the illustration exists right in the sketch. If it is not there, it is not going to show up later on.”
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Only a few decades ago, a common belief was that the more contemporary the design of the label, the more mediocre the quality of the wine inside. The legendary luxury wines of Europe remained faithful to the centuries-old tradition of featuring labels with ornate script lettering, fine line engravings of chateaus, gold foil borders and corks sealed and stamped with red wax. Only upstart nouveau wineries in places like California ignored proper wine labeling etiquette by hiring graphic designers to come up with something colorful and stylish.
But perceptions have changed. Fine wines are being sold in supermarkets, online and even Costco. Wines from around the world compete for consumer attention and shelf space. The assumption that bottles with traditional labels contain better wine no longer has validity. Wine packaging and labels are projecting unique brand personalities, and not shying away from presenting a look that is bold and innovative.
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Unbeknownst to most sports fans was a completely different Super Bowl competition being played out on the sidelines. Sponsored by Intuit, maker of QuickBooks, TurboTax, Intuit and Quicken software, the contest drew 15,000 small business contenders who vied for the chance to win a free 30-second spot during the big game last weekend.
And the Intuit winner was GoldieBlox, a startup that offers construction toys strictly for little girls. A Kickstarter-funded project, GoldieBlox was founded by Debbie Sterling, a Stanford-graduate engineer who was disturbed to learn that 89% of all engineers in America were men. Taking a walk through a toy store, Sterling noted that the “blue aisle” was lined with construction toys and chemistry sets, while the “pink aisle” had lots of princesses and dolls. Sterling vowed to redecorate the “pink aisle” with construction toys to send little girls the message that they could pursue a career in science, engineering, technology ad math too. San Francisco-based Sterling developed an interactive storybook series with a companion construction kit. The book’s heroine is a girl named Goldie who likes to invent mechanical things and seeks the assistance of the young reader to build them using pieces from the project kit.
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Since the Super Bowl puts most sports fans in the mood for beer, we thought we’d bring back an old beer ad favorite — The Carlton Big Ad, created by George Patterson and Partners (Young & Rubicam) of Melbourne in 2005. An epic parody of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” battle sequence, the commercial, also filmed in New Zealand, shows men in maroon and yellow choir robes rushing and leaping across a sweeping rugged terrain, while resolutely singing new lyrics set to the medieval tune “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s cantata “Carmina Burana.” Although the commercial looks like it was made with a cast of thousands, it actually only used 350 people, with the crowd replication software, Massive, filling in the rest of the extras in post-production. “The Big Ad” went on to win numerous awards, and undoubtedly paid for its production costs and then some through the millions of times it has been viewed on the Internet.
You won’t catch any of the Super Bowl XLIII players butting heads with these helmuts on this weekend, but you can still bid on one and help the NFL Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the health and safety of sports and youth football.
Bloomingdale’s in New York collaborated with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to invite some of the world’s leading fashion designers to bring their own personal flair to football helmuts. The collection of 48 fanciful and impractical headgear has been on display in the window of Bloomingdale’s 59th Street store in Manhattan and can be viewed online as well. The helmuts are being auctioned off to support the NFL Foundation, and the public has been invited to submit their own design with a chance to win a Bloomie’s gift card and a mini 3-D printed version of their submitted design. Even football helmut design is a participatory sport.
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The Maribor Theatre Festival is the oldest and most prominent theatre festival in Slovenia. In recent years, it has evolved into an international event with symposia, and foreign guests, producers and performances. The festival has been the scene of exciting arguments, thought-provoking insights, unexpected reversals, and controversy. If the bold graphic identity designed by Nenad Cizl for the 48th Maribor Festival is any indication, attendees can anticipate works of equal originality and drama. Cizl explains that the visual theme for his art is intended “to address the attitude of Slovene politicians toward culture.”
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