Digital billboards are making it possible to connect with people in ways we couldn’t imagine a few years ago. To mark International Women’s Day last weekend, UK-based Women’s Aid worked with WCRS London to launch a billboard campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. The billboard features an obviously battered woman with two black eye, swelling and cuts on her face. From time to time, she blinks sadly.
Using facial recognition technology, the billboard lets passersby heal the woman’s wounds by looking at her. The more people stop and look directly at the image, the faster her face heals and returns to normal. The facial recognition technology can register exactly how many people are looking at the poster and pick out their faces from the crowd and display them through a live-feed of the street.
Chances are if you are a graphic designer even your mother doesn’t know what you do, and certainly your grandma doesn’t have a clue. Graphic design is a profession that baffles even business executives who hire graphic designers. Some believe that if they can get their office manager to learn InDesign and Photoshop, they could dispense with the need to hire a graphic designer and do everything inhouse for a lot less money. The lack of respect that graphic designers command is wonderfully presented in this video assembled from TV and film clips by Ellen Mercer and Lucy Streule, two graphic design students at Central Saint Martins in London. If you feel unappreciated and misunderstood, take comfort; you’re not alone.
Created by Wieden & Kennedy London and directed by Dougal Wilson at Blink, “Lurpak Cook’s Range: Adventure Awaits” is the latest episode in a series of commercials that expose home cooks to the exhilarating universe that they have been yearning to explore. This 60-second epic journey opens to the majestic strains of the soundtrack from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and closes in tightly on a mysterious landscape of bumpy cauliflowers, gnarled ginger outcroppings, an artery of pomegranate kernels, and membranes of flaky bread.
It’s bold. Challenging. Heroic. It’s all about butter and cooking oil! This ad for Lurpak, maker of premium Danish butter and cooking oils, is intended to inspire and encourage intrepid cooks to venture forth and discover new culinary frontiers, secure in the knowledge that Lurpak butter won’t let them down.
What’s black-and-white and impossible to ignore? The graphic identity of 52 North, a hip restaurant and bar in London. UK-based design studio I Love Dust and interior architects 44th Hill used scale and contrast to make us aware of the geometric beauty of typography. The huge letterforms become another shape in a collage of stripes, dots, stars and diamond angles. In 52 North’s restaurant and bar, warm wood furnishings soften the starkness of the letterpress-style mural, but the mural itself becomes like a “menu” of decorative shapes that can be mixed and matched on packaging and printed materials, making each piece look slightly different yet part of the overall brand. It’s a complete identity program with room to grow.
At first this commercial for Temptations Tumblers cat treats by adam@eveDDB/London seemed like a brazen effort to hook viewers in by combining two of the most popular subjects on YouTube — top athletes and adorable cats. The first half of the “Time to Play Ball” Temptations commercial did look like an ad for Nike or Adidas, with not a furry paw in sight. But then the shared attributes of jocks and cats came into focus. The athletes looked steely, determined, alert and focused. Even the hairs on their neck stood at attention. The cats, presented in elegant slow motion, exhibited the same kind of single-minded concentration. Nothing distracted them from the tiny Temptations Tumblers tossed their way. The comparison came together nicely and worked. (It didn’t hurt to be able to feature cute cats and buff jocks either.)
It’s no surprise that a bus shelter constructed entirely from Lego bricks recently emerged in front of a toy store in the UK to celebrate London’s Year of the Bus. Anyone who has ever visited Legoland knows that these colorful interlocking plastic bricks can be built into anything, of any size by people (or maybe primates in general) of any age. Like an atom, the Lego is the basic unit of playful construction. This bus shelter was made from 100,000 Lego bricks by Duncan Titmarsh, the UK’s only certified Lego professional.
Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that lends itself to cliché ad images of ruddy-faced Dubliners drinking in pubs or a testosterone-infused sports bar with buff guys guzzling beer while gorgeous women with pearly white teeth, red lipstick and long perfectly coiffed hair laugh flirtatiously at their cleverness. What is totally unexpected in Guinness’s “Made of More” brand campaign is seeing nattily dressed men in the Republic of Congo going out on the town. Yet London ad agency AMV BBDO linked the Guinness ad series to a real group of dapper Congolese gentlemen, known in Central Africa as the Sapeurs – La SAPE or Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo. By day, the Sapeurs are ordinary workingmen – farmers, taxi drivers, laborers, and the like. But after work, they dress up in stylish and often colorful attire to express their own individuality and creativity. “Even if I don’t have money in my pocket, I only need to wear a suit and tie to feel really at ease,” said one. Despite living in an impoverished war-torn region, the Sapeurs abide by a code of honor that respects peace, self-dignity and politeness. They are role models in their community. They live by the beliefs expressed in 19th century poet William Henley’s Invictus — ”I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
A wandering elephant has been the brand mascot for UK-based Williamson Tea since the company began tea farming in Assam, India, in 1869. India, then still part of the British Empire, used trained elephants as farm animals, much like the West used horses and mules. Until the advent of farming machinery, Williamson too relied on elephants. When the family-owned business moved its tea farming operation from India to Kenya, it kept its elephant logo, but changed its profile from an Asian elephant to an African elephant, which has bigger ears and a concave humped back.
To this day, the wandering elephant remains an important emblem in Williamson’s brand identity program, reminding consumers of the tea grower’s exotic history. Springetts Brand Design in London built on this tradition by featuring ornately decorated elephants on luxury-edition “tin” caddies. Each tin is color-coded to reflect the type of tea inside. More than just an eye-catching marketing ploy, the elephant tin containers are highly collectible, and are themselves charming works of art.
Sports and beer were meant for each other. If you watch beer commercials, that’s the impression you get. The beer- sports fan theme is an advertising cliché. Unfortunately, most of the ads are so interchangeably similar that one brand name on a beer bottle could be photoshopped out and replaced with another and no one would know the difference. Most of these commercials feature attractive, young people with bottles of beer in their hands, yucking it up in a crowded sports bar. When you’ve seen one beer-in-bar commercial, you’ve seen them all. Which brings us to the Carlsberg Fan Academy spot, created by Fold 7 agency in London. Like most videos that go viral, this one has a story line that holds your attention and is fun to watch. It’s a comedy sketch, with actors not models, and the brand message for Carlsberg comes through strong, but doesn’t stomp over the entertainment value. The viewers’ delight in getting amusement from an ad, makes them feel good about the brand and want to retweet it to share with friends.
Anyone who has read an action comic book knows what a cataclysmic impact looks like. Splat! Pow! Blam! Swoosh! Clouds of dust, explosive rays, stars. Adam&Eve DDB London worked with illustrator John Rogers to demonstrate how Volkswagen’s City Emergency Brake system can avert disaster by using a comic book illustrative style and visual sound effects. It certainly beats the more realistic approach of showing blood and gore, police cars and the message “don’t let this happen to you.”
The visual identity system for Southern California-based Dripp Coffee Shop is intriguing for what is fixed and what is flexible. Designed by Turner Duckworth San Francisco and London, the Dripp branding system centers around a hand-drawn script logotype which angles upward. The rest of the visual content is structured within a grid of color blocks with minimal flat-graphic images. The flourished style of the letters sets the logo apart from the rest of the visual content and, by contrast, draws attention to itself. The silhouetted objects themselves can be changed to suit the product, season or event, as long as they retain the stylized look and simplified color palette of the brand – as shown in the set of posters below created by Turner Duckworth. This graphic system also accommodates changing needs and uses, including this sleeveless hot paper cup design by Istanbul-based designer Salih Kucukaga.
Starbucks in the UK found a novel way to promote its discount latte special, available only on Mondays until February 18. London-based ad agency AMV BBDO created a stop-motion video to tout other great events that happened on a Monday, citing Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon, the first chiming of Big Ben, the first performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as examples. The entire commercial was produced in-house at Brand New School, using items from Starbucks for props. Coffee cups, napkins, wooden stir sticks, straws and corrugated java jackets serve as stand-ins for super heroes, landmarks and Macbeth’s three witches hunkered around a cauldron stirring up “toil and trouble.” The charm of the animation is its playful homemade quality. The only question is did someone at AMV dream up the idea on a Monday?
With the right technology (and talent), there’s no such thing as still photos anymore. The technique in this video is called “parallax effect,” which makes it appear that objects closer to the viewer move faster than those that are farther away. Joe Fellows from Make Productions in London made this film using still images from the World Wildlife Fund archives. As quoted in SLRLounge.com, Fellows explains, “We used Photoshop to cut out individual parts and then animated them in After Effects…There was no 3D mapping, all in 2D. There are many layers per shot, the ears, the teeth, the whiskers, the head, the body, the background are all separate layers. Then the layers are parented to one another and moved either by position or by using something called the puppet tool.” Set to the music of “What If This Storm Ends” by Snow Patrol, the result is a “high-speed” slow-motion parallax sequence film that presents a poetic, dreamlike study of nature in motion.
To celebrate the holidays, AKQA, the San Francisco/London-based digital creative agency, teamed up with members of the Pacific Chamber Symphony and Music Director Laurence Kohl to produce an interactive arrangement of “Carol of the Bells.” They are assisted by “shadow orchestra members” led by a “shadow conductor” who coordinates the performance by linking to Mobile Orchestra.com via wi-fi to get a unique web address. From there, up to 12 people may sync their smartphones, each choosing an instrument played by one of the real musicians. Once the “conductor” sees that all the mobile instruments are ready, he/she presses a key to let the music begin.
There are many reasons why corporations update, revise or simply abandon their logos. The old mark may feature antiquated technology or not be politically correct by today’s standards. It may no longer reflect who they are, the size of their current business or what they sell. Or it may have been drawn by the founder or a promising art student when the firm was a cash-poor startup. Whatever. The result was a logo that looked amateurish and generic. This is a tough quiz, made harder because we had to remove the brand names on some logos so they didn’t give away the answer. When you pair the logo with the brand however, you’re likely to be surprised. Good luck!
For those of us who have been glued to the television all week watching the London 2012 Olympics, here’s a little quiz to do during commercial breaks. According to modern Olympic tradition, the host country for the Games is responsible for creating an emblem to be used on promotional materials, by sponsors of the Olympics, and on the uniforms of every Olympic competitor. Over the decades, these logos have integrated the cultural symbols and patterns, national colors and artistic styles of the host country into the design. See if you can name the year and location for each of these emblems. A bonus point if you can recite the Olympics motto. Click “Read More” for answers.