Archive for the ‘What were they thinking?’ 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?

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…)

The swoosh logo :: just leave it

April 1, 2009
The Nike logo: from humble beginnings to universal recognition.

The Nike logo: from humble beginnings to universal recognition.

Nike adopted the swoosh for its logo in 1971. It’s symbolic, it’s iconic, and it’s very appropriate for their business. (And was designed by a college student, btw.) So what is it about the swoosh that makes so many decision makers want to use it for their logo? It’s everywhere. And no one uses it as well or as meaningfully as Nike.

A new swoosh for Capital One. But WHY?

A new swoosh for Capital One. But WHY?

It seems that both big and small companies in all industries think a swoosh logo is also right for them. Take Capital One for instance. What does their new swoosh say for them? That they’re fast moving? Is it an orbit? Does it intimate forward thinking? Truly these are not unique concepts, even if that is what they’re thinking. How about coming up with a logo that distinguishes them from the competition? One that focuses on their key strenght(s).

I have to wonder what motivated each of these companies to adopt a swoosh logo. Did they see swoosh logos everywhere and figure that was the thing to do? Did they subconsciously “copy” the swoosh from one of the few companies that use it successfully (Nike, Intel)? Did they see it as hip or trendy or otherwise worthy for their compay’s most valuable asset — thier brand?

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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.”

“Yeah.”

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.

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