Archive for April, 2010

Mail rehashes hoary old branding chestnuts

by Stephen Bell
Old logo

Old logo

Yesterday the Daily Mail reported on the new Foreign Office logo. “Miliband wastes £80,000 changing official font on Foreign Office logo,” trilled the headline in brilliantly venomous Mail style.

Yes it’s true that the two logos aren’t very different. And if you just glanced at the story you would probably agree that Miliband has indeed wasted £80,000 of tax payers’ money.

But I loved this story because it was a perfect summary of so many of the issues, prejudices and hoary old chestnuts facing the design industry today.

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CPB hires Naomi Farrugia as Business Director

by Alex Benady

Natalie Farrugia

Coley Porter Bell has beefed up its client services offer with the hiring of former Goodyear national marketing manager Naomi Farrugia.

In her role as business director Farrugia will run CPB’s international Coca Cola and Pernod Ricard business.

She joins from integrated communications agency Rapier where she was business director running the Virgin media account.

Farrugia, an Australian by birth, previously spent three years working for Goodyear in Australia where she managed the Goodyear retail brand and was responsible for rebranding and repositioning the Goodyear outlets as Goodyear Autocare due to reflect the breadth of its service offering.

“Of all the things I’ve done in marketing, I am fascinated most by branding because brand creation determines what all the other marketing activities will be. I look forward to the challenge of improving the standing of a project based business,” said Farrugia.

Said Coley Porter Bell chief executive Vicky Bullen: “Naomi has a rare combination of wide ranging client side marketing experience, different types of marketing communications experience, brand insight and fantastic people skills. She will help us as we take our brand world offer to clients.”

Designing a Political Victory

by Laura Pearlstein

Thursday's debate

Thursday's debate

Last Thursday, despite the cloud of volcanic ash that grounded flights throughout Europe, one of the cornerstones of the American electoral process made its way across the pond: the televised debate.

For the first time in British politics, leaders of the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat parties gathered in front of a studio audience to share their views on hot button issues, including the economy, immigration, education, and the military. Brown, Cameron and Clegg stood toe to toe for ninety minutes, and beamed their way into the homes of 9.4 million people nationwide.

It remains to be seen whether debates will be a feature of all future general elections, but it is worth noting the migration of a practice that has defined American political campaigns for the past fifty years. And with Barack Obama’s groundbreaking campaign in such recent memory, it will be interesting to see if more of the principles that worked so well for him will translate here.

One of the most compelling aspects of Obama’s campaign was the effective use of design. In fact, an entire book has been written on the subject. The introduction explains, “For the first time in American politics, a candidate used art and design to bring together the American people—capturing their voices in a visual way.”

The Obama logo

From logo to website to pamphlet, the visual language worked incredible hard to embody the core principles of the candidate’s platform: hope, change, and unity. Scott Thomas, Design Director of the campaign, explains, “One thing that design can solve through consistency is it can establish a certain sense of balance.”

The campaign’s commitment to design consistency, however, was refreshingly modern – no overbearing brand rules or restrictions to abide by. The website’s downloads page allowed people to take ownership of the design work, creating their own websites, t-shirts, and signs. It was open source design at its best, contributing to the greatest grass roots movements in this blogger’s lifetime.

And so it will be interesting to see how Britain’s election season plays out, and whether design can do for candidates here what it did for Barack Obama in 2008. We’ve seen them present their own personal brands on television, but can they bring them to life in a visually compelling way over the next few weeks? We at CPB will certainly be watching.

Misuse of marketing explains political apathy

by Christian Barnett and Alex Benady

Are you psyched about May 6th? You know, The General Election. Are you really looking forward to it? Are you enthusiastically engaged with the thinking, the campaigning, the issues, the people, the ideas?

Thought not.

Sadly you are not alone in your indifference. Over the past few weeks it has become increasingly apparent that there is a near universal lack of engagement in the country with our upcoming quadrennial vote-fest.

Even antagonism would be preferable. At least that implies some interest. But instead we seem to be in the grip of the most severe outbreak of mass apathy we have seen for decades, perhaps ever. And we cant help wondering why?

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A rose by any other name

by Emma Brock

I was strolling home through Paddington station the other day when my eye was caught and my gob was well and truly smacked by a colourful little six sheet: ‘VJJ. What do you call yours?’ it read.

What? I looked again, Yes it really was talking about vaginas. And just in case there were any lingering doubts in my mind, there, running along the bottom (of the poster) was a web site address: www.loveyourvagina.com.

What was it?  Porn?  But surely that would say ‘lovesomeoneelse’svagina.com’.  Besides the graphics were too wholesome. A ‘joke’?  Not funny.  A public health message? Perhaps.  It just wasn’t clear.  But I was intrigued, so when I got home I logged on to find that the site sells ‘mooncups’ – a new, or rather very, very old form of sanitary protection for women.

So you could argue that it did its job. But I believe this concept is an enormous leap for the average woman to make … even the web site says “I bet you winced when you saw it”, personally I winced when I saw the advertising because it seeks to overly trivialise what could potentially be an interesting move on from tampons.

The homepage was a brilliant and utterly fascinating feature, that is built on the same insight as the ad campaign. It asked visitors to let them know what they call their vaginas. Extraordinarily, there are more than 2,000 different words and phrases used and no clear ‘winner’ among them.

Now you might say that it merely reflects the interests of our society. After all the eskimos reputedly have 40 words for snow. I call my son’s genitals his ‘willy’. But the fact that we have no consensus around what to call to female genitalia suggests that this is an issue that we are afraid to get to grips with. So the insight is good, perhaps the execution is a little trivial or dare I say “easy”.

It’s often a criticism that this kind of communication is developed by men, because the insights seem misplaced or patronising. This at least is a good attempt at being straight talking and open about sanpro but it still smacks of being sensationalised by men in a bid to woo award juries, rather than connect with women.

But what of the Mooncup itself? According to the site, the average woman uses 12,000 sanitary products in her life which can be replaced by one Mooncup.  So there’s clearly a major environmental benefit. And don’t forget issues surrounding toxic shock syndrome. So on a rational level an external sanpro product seems a good idea.

But attitudes to sanpro are culturally ingrained. We don’t want to see it, hear about it, talk about it or be reminded of it. The conventional tampon which literally internalises the issue is an apt metaphor for our cultural approach.

I have to say I share that approach. While the ads attempt to be a clever way of highlighting an incredibly sensitive topic in an engaging and controversial way, the product itself is just too strident. Reusing and repeatedly cleaning one of these things is just too much of an adjustment for me to make. Most of us are simply not ready to become earth mothers revelling in our menstrual juices.

And whilst this can be seen as being brave, creative and controversial with an arresting tone of voice, is this really what is required to sell women on an entirely new approach to sanitary protection? I don’t think so.

The travesty of Mooncup is that it’s a really nice idea, but it requires advertising that re-educates women, rather than attempts to titillate with concepts like ‘noo-noo’, ‘gina’, ‘home entertainment centre’ or what ever else you want to call it.

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