Special Co-Branding

Oreo’s Homage to “Game of Thrones”

From upper left to lower right: House of Stark, the Night King, House of Targaryen, and House of Lannister

For the two or three people in the modern world who don’t know, Sunday April 14thmarks the start of the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” on HBO TV.   Based on the adaptation of “A Song of Ice and Fire” book by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is a medieval fantasy epic that chronicles the violent dynastic struggles of noble families vying for the Iron throne in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  The HBO series, created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is predicted to attract more than one billion viewers worldwide in its final season. 

Season eight provided the perfect opportunity for Oreo to issue special edition cookies that would appeal to “Game of Thrones” fanatics. Instead of showing its brand as a friendly chocolatey snack, Oreo emphasized the stark black-and-white appearance of its cookies and stamped them with the crests of the fictional warring families. The packaging, too, showed the sinister-looking iron throne.  Oreo and HBO took this brand pairing a step further by teaming with Elastic Creative to substitute the show’s title sequence with a cookie-built version made entirely out of 2,750 Oreos.  The brand campaign is so imaginative that the limited edition offering is selling out as fans join in the fun of munching on “Game of Thrones”-themed snacks.

Oreo packaging with the Iron Throne
Environmental Awareness

Plastikophobia Art Installation

Plastikophobia is a new immersive art installation in Singapore made from 18,000 single-use plastic cups collected from local food markets  to raise public awareness of plastic pollution.  Although beautiful to look at, this art piece is in no way an endorsement to use more plastic.

The art project started when Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong and Joshua Goh at the National University of Singapore teamed up with social impact strategist Laura Francois to create an exhibition for the Sustainable Singapore Gallery.  Knowing that Singapore recycled less than 6% of its plastic waste, the team set out to draw attention to plastic pollution by making an art installation from discarded plastic cups.  In a short time, they managed to collect thousands of single-use cups from local merchants and recruited hundreds of volunteers to bring the project to life.  The end result is surreal and lovely, and hopefully disturbing.

In Singapore, plastic waste is reaching crisis proportions.  According to the Singapore Straits Time, plastic waste has increased sevenfold since the 1970s.  The average Singaporean uses and discards about 13 plastic bags a day.  The statistics are equally daunting in other parts of the world.   Studies show that 91% of plastic worldwide does not get recycled.  The toxic chemicals that leach out of plastic have had an alarming impact on the environment and all of its inhabitants.

Like Singapore, other parts of the world are awakening to the harmful effect of plastic. Just last week the EU Parliament banned single-use plastics by 2021.  It’s not just the proliferation of unsightly litter; it’s the toxins that are slowly killing us.  A solution must start with product and packaging designers who have made plastic their favorite “go to” material.

The Plastikophobia exhibit is showing at the Sustainable Singapore Gallery until April 18th.

https://plastikophobia.com

Humorous Advertising

Believe It or Not – April Fools’ Day Ads

Is it brand advertising?  Yes.  Is the product offering real?  No way.

April Fools’ Day is an excuse for ad people worldwide to take a break from practicing “truth in marketing” and spin fanciful selling points that stretch credulity to the breaking point, and make even gullible people go “Huh??”

April Fools’ Day spoofs are an advertising tradition and lately they have become more elaborate and expensively produced to capture the interest of social media and go viral. Some ad pitches told with a straight face (wink wink) include Rent-a-Runway wardrobes for dogs, Virgin Australia offering inflight spin classes, Seiko making watches for ninjas, Heinz selling chocolate mayonnaise in the U.K.   Funny and in good fun, April Fools’ Day advertising is becoming something that consumers look forward to seeing like Super Bowl commercials. It’s feel-good advertising that make consumers like a brand that enjoys having fun.  Here are a few April Fools Day ads from 2018.

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City of Paris Modernizes Logo


Ask people to name some of the most iconic symbols of Paris and they are likely to say the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Notre Dame Cathedral, among other landmarks. What they are unlikely to mention are the merchant boats that once plied the Seine. So important were these vessels to the survival, wealth and influence of Paris in the Middle Ages, a high-sided boat with a billowing sail was adopted as the heraldic coat of arms for Paris in 1358. It remained the city’s official emblem for more than a thousand years. The seal is typically displayed on public facilities along with the city motto “Fluctuat nec Mergitur” – Latin for “tossed upon the waves, but doesn’t sink.”

Over the centuries, the boat displayed on the coat of arms had been redesigned a dozen or so times, with artists striving for a more majestic look, sometimes by drawing tall-clipper-type ships with multiple masts. But in 1942, when Paris again modified its logo, it aimed for more historical accuracy and showed a high-sided, bowed gondola-like boat with a single mast. That version remained the authorized logo for Paris, until the city opted to modernize it to complement the graphic style of today.

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Augmented Reality

The Future of Weather Forecasting Is Design

Until recently forecasting the weather involved showing a lot of bar charts, graphs, and satellite shots of hurricanes and storm fronts moving across a map. That was so 2017.

Now The Weather Channel meteorologists have integrated augmented reality (AR) into their forecasts to give greater graphic context to their warnings. Probably by the standards of what will be possible a year or two from now, it is pretty crude, but compelling nonetheless.

Up until now, AR and VR were mostly clever “parlor tricks” demonstrated by Gen Z geeks. They were awesome, but other than using it in Pokemon GO and some fantasy films, AR and VR did not have everyday practical applications. That is on the verge of changing. If we pay attention to what Apple CEO Tim Cook says, “AR is the next big realm of development for design and technology.”

Inc. Magazine predicts that the AR market is expected to reach $100 billion by next year — 2020. Industries ranging from medicine, retail, repairs and maintenance, to tourism and education are devising ways that AR will transform their business and change our lives. Those in the design profession need to pay close attention and consider the skills they will need and the people they will have to collaborate with to succeed in design.