Archive for the ‘Truly awful’ Category

Dancing Girls = Good Advertising?!

August 20, 2009

Picture 3 You’ve seen these ads, right? They are usually advertising a refinance, or for moms to go back to school, or some other diluted version of a presidential plan. The messaging is very clear in all of them, and isn’t anything new. But why the dancing girls?

Honestly, I am trying to find some virtue in the dancing girls. I’m trying to find some reason for their being, other than some movement on the page to capture attention. But if the advertiser is trying to get my attention why wouldn’t they create some movement that is actually relevant to the ad content? Is that such a crazy idea? Is it so radical to think that an ad’s imagery and content might want to have something in common?Picture 5

So we have these girls dancing on the page. I’ve even seen some silhouetted men dancing. These guys seem a little Chippendale-esque to me. And again, I’m not exactly clear on what their purpose is. But I’m seeing more and more dancing people promoting loans, college degrees and even auto insurance.

So I’m wondering if there’s a common thread. Other than the tackiness of these irrelevant dancing people that is. Does anyone know? Is it some financial institution using these disparate ideas to get people to borrow money for school, homes, or…. car insurance?
Picture 4
Once I clicked on one of the return-to-school ads to see where it went, it seems to be a searchable database of schools and areas of study. I couldn’t see if it had a financial tie-in. And if they are several separate businesses, why would they all use the same, silly idea?

These ads all get an A+ in tackiness and irrelevance. And with their occasional use of Comic Sans, their regular use of Relfex Blue, and their inability to come up with a concept, they all get a big F in design. Don’t you agree?

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Kraft Shreds its Cheese Packaging

April 27, 2009

At the supermarket this weekend I did a double-take passing the shredded cheese display. New packaging! How exciting. I made a beeline for the display which looked a lot like what you’d expect a generic or store brand to look like. Then came the big shock — it was Kraft!

kraft_old_full_line

Considering how controversial the rebranded Tropicana packaging was, I was very surprised to see that Kraft had followed suit. In the old packaging, although each package varies from cheese to cheese, the basic look remained the same: a blue wave at top and bottom, a “banner” top and center with the Kraft logo and type of cheese, and a clear view into the package. It’s recognizable, eye-catching, and invokes a sense of quality.

Please excuse the photo from my phone's "utility" camera.

Kraft's new shredded cheese packaging — white space and lower case letters.

The new, cleaned up packaging is almost austere in its simplicity. I am a big fan of white space, but this new design may be oversimplified for a big consumer brand. It heralds the old store brand packaging we all used to recognize, before “no-frills” brands began to compete on visual presentation, and not just on price and value. The packaging is not just a simple white and blue stripe with a block of color to indicate the type of cheese, it’s also not glossy! It’s a more matte-looking plastic package material, which, I’m sure, is intended to stand out from the other brands’ glossy cheese packaging. You might also think, that given all the clear-space around the Kraft logo, that the logo would stand out more from the package. However, it manages to get lost on this über-clean design, your focus, instead, is drawn to the colored block of copy on the bottom, which tells you the type of cheese in all lower case letters. (more…)

How to :: NOT use a font

April 7, 2009

Email blast design is just like every other technology — dangerous in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it. Here on Long Island there’s a wonderful organization called the LIA. However, the email blasts they send are less than wonderful. In fact, they’re simply awful.

We can forgive the cheesy headline, the many fonts used throughout, even the squished photo. What we can not excuse is the use of an all caps, italic, calligraphic font!

Why oh why? How does anyone think all caps, calligraphic font use looks good?

Why oh why? How does anyone think all caps, calligraphic font use looks good?

If you read our blog, you already know my position on Zapf Chancery. Well Monotype Corsiva is similarly abused. It’s just less accessible to everyday computer users. But the same rule applies: Just. Don’t. Use. It. However, if your font choices are limited, and you simply MUST use a “fancy” font, and the only font that will do is Monotype Corsiva, please, please, please, (for the sake of all our senses), don’t use it in all caps, or even with initial caps. It just wasn’t designed to work that way and it’s painful to look at.

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Designer nightmares :: Zapf Chancery

March 11, 2009
Zapf Chancery Italic — not a "fancy" font.

Zapf Chancery Italic — not a "fancy" font.

Simply put, Zapf Chancery is the font that never should have been born.

No offense to Hermann Zapf, the font’s designer. (To his credit, he also designed Palatino and Optima.) Zapf Chancery looks a lot like the calligraphy I was teaching myself when I was 12. Only uglier. But Zapf Chancery’s real crime isn’t its existence, it’s HOW and HOW OFTEN it’s used.

Unfortunately, Zapf Chancery comes standard as a system font on every computer I’ve ever seen. So that means it falls into the hands of, well, everyone. And lets face it, not everyone is qualified to use fonts beyond Arial and Times.

Because it’s standard on every computer, it’s not just individuals who have the potential to create something awful with Zapf Chancery, it’s sign shops, copy shops, art school students, and on-line quicky design services. And they are creating! From beauty shop signs and address stampers, to invitations and (blech!) business cards, Zapf Chancery seems to be everywhere!

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