Archive for the ‘Simply inappropriate’ Category

Deception on the Store Shelf :: Over the top “retouching”

July 22, 2009

Open any magazine and you’ll see images that have been retouched into oblivion. Perfect skin, narrow waists, flawless hair – these manipulated images depict people you’ll never see this way in real life. But by now we are all pretty much aware of this fact.

But when you purchase a product, specifically a boxed product, you rely on the photo to give you a real sense of what’s inside. Sure it might be retouched to improve color, texture or blemishes, but it should certainly be shown to scale in proportion with the other objects or people in the image.

Proportions can be deceiving... especially when you can use Photoshop!

Proportions can be deceiving... especially when you can use Photoshop!

For example, I recently purchased this inflatable pool for my kids – the Slide ‘N Splash Whale Pool from Banzai. From the photo on the box, it looks like a decent sized pool. And although the true dimensions are written on the box, it’s typically the photo a consumer would rely on to determine whether or not to purchase a product.

What I learned once I unpacked and inflated the product, is that it is proportionally MUCH smaller than what is depicted on the box. Not slightly, which might be forgivable, but vastly and greatly different. Unless these children are approximately 18-inches tall, there is no way this photo is real. This photo has been modified, at the very least, to shrink the images of the children to probably two thirds to half of their actual size. In reality, the slide is so small that when my 2 year-old sits at the top, her feet reach into the pool. (Yes, my daughter is an average-sized child.)

From a marketing and design perspective, this is blatant and intentional deception. By “faking” the proportions in their favor, Banzai believes they will sell more pools. And they probably will. I would not have bought it if the photo had more accurately depicted the size of the product. But they won’t make their customers happy by deceiving them. In fact, I have bought my first, and last Banzai product.


Generic Juice :: Tropicana

February 25, 2009
Tried and true. A package design so familiar, yet only truly noticed once it was gone.

A package design so familiar, yet only truly appreciated once it was gone.

The name Tropicana is almost synonymous with orange juice. Yes, the company makes other products, and other big name companies make orange juice. But Tropicana, with it’s clever straw-stuck-in-the-orange concept, is really the biggest name in orange juice.

In a media-soaked society like ours, companies have to keep their products — and product packaging — fresh. And when Tropicana (owned by PepsiCo) decided it was time to add some freshness to their well-known orange juice cartons, they enlisted the help of Arnell, a NY-based firm.

Tropicana's new carton: whitespace gone wild.

Tropicana's new carton: whitespace gone wild.

And design they did. Gone is the recognizable straw-stuck-in-the-orange concept, gone is the comforting green gradient Tropicana logo, gone is the familiar orange band that boasts of pulp or no pulp. It is an entirely new design with scarcely the tiniest bit of the old package concept left — perhaps just the orange and green color — not really enough to retain any mindshare. I suppose Arnell and PepsiCo feel that the Tropicana name (which is not very pronounced on the new package) is enough to prevent customer confusion and maintain customer loyalty.

Not surprisingly, everyone is talking about this new package. But probably not in the way that Arnell and PepsiCo would like. The most common conversations I’ve heard go something like this: “Have you seen the new Tropicana packaging?”

“Yeah. It looks like a store brand.”


Okay, so there aren’t many ground breaking discussions happening in the juice aisle. And if it were a group of designers discussing the new package, the conversation would have been a lot lengthier, but not any more positive. But when your customer-base thinks your new package looks as generic as a store brand, you’ve got problems.