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302. Category Leader? Why Not Act Like It?

When you are the leader in an industry or category you can do one of two things. You can fear change and protect the status quo with safe, traditional and boring marketing. Or you can leverage your position by advertising with confidence and courage. Not so surprisingly, a lot of companies opt for choice number one and do so for a variety of reasons (all bad.) Rare is the company that takes its position at the top and attempts to climb still higher.

One such company is Kraft. Well, not really the entire Kraft company but more specifically Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. It's hard to argue that they are not the boxed-dinner champion. Sure they might take a shot or two from Velveeta from time to time, but let's not kid ourselves - Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is macaroni and cheese. (Incidentally, it's one of the few products that you cannot buy a generic replacement for - at least one that is any good. I'm not sure what they put in that stuff, but it's pretty darn tasty and no store brand has figured it out.) What I've seen from The Cheesiest advertiser lately is a campaign that is building on decades of brand equity but also leveraging it with a thoroughly modern and confident approach. In short, I really like it. So why do I like it? Well, let's break it down.

Beyond Nike-esque Logo.
With their new campaign called, You know you love it, K M&C has immediately done something that only very few companies have been able to do successfully—Nike, Apple & McDonalds being the major examples—they've gone with just a symbol as a logo. No words, no name, no nothing. Just a symbol. But they've even one-upped these aforementioned brand pioneers as their new symbol isn't merely an ordinary designed symbol, it's actually their product. Yes, they've managed to communicate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese using their noodle and a little bit of color. It's perfect. It's classy. It's timeless and a little courageous. (In the outdoor the noodle lives entirely by itself, and in the TV you can tell they are trying to transition to noodle-only but still have a brief full combination mark before the end title.)

Product (with color) as Identity:

A literal happy accident occurs with this new logo as the noodle naturally reflects a smile. And since KM&C is convenient comfort food to a lot of people now in their 30's and 40's, it makes a lot of sense to build on that happiness element. A lot of advertisers would take this to a weird or cliche place, but Kraft sprinkled in a little technology to make the tagline, You Know You Love It come to life. Earlier this month they ran a double-banner on Yahoo that asked viewers to Show their love by smiling. Using a little facial recognition and your webcam the flat macaroni noodle would smile along with you. It's nothing more than a cute gimmick, but sometimes cute gimmicks work. Inviting people to interact with your logo isn't easy and this was disarmingly fun. The best banner ad this year so far.

Kraft Smile Detection OLM from Stephen Riley on Vimeo.

There is a strategic shift in the tone of this campaign compared to what Kraft has been doing with the brand over the years. I'm guessing they decided to move slightly away from selling to kids and their caretakers to focusing on the middle-aged comfort-food audience. Gone are the old ads about it being the cheesiest with 6 and 8 year-olds aplenty, replaced with a more sophisticated approach targeting former kids. This is smart because you are still basically talking to parents but giving them an excuse to buy it for themselves and not just for their kids. This strategic shift is evident in the TV spots. The spots still focus on family settings but have a new voice. It's the new voice that balances the message between kid-friendly and adult-friendly with success much in the same way a Pixar film does. What is particularly refreshing is the move away from value too - which has been all the rage in the grocery isle for the last few years. Kraft is giving us more reasons to buy their product than a reduced price. Does this mean we've seen the peak of value-advertising after this recession? Hopefully. 3 spots below.

Opportunistic Crime: I've seen a certain somebody do this before...

Dinner Infraction:

Skimming Off The Top:

Another aspect of this campaign that I like is the clarity of the design. Here's an example where the design and the advertising are in harmony, working towards the same goal. The visual treatment is focused and actually communicates more than the words in the creative. The design tells you exactly who this advertiser is, helping the noodle-as-icon work, while reinforcing what to look for on the grocery shelf. It's the blue box using only subtle design cues; color, type, and negative space. The design is working on a level that would make Marlboro's F1 team proud, but in a far more innocent and endearing manner. The website has been updated and everything feels like it's coming from the same place - as it should. Unfortunately the outdoor boards are hard to come by - but I managed to capture this one with my iPhone near an intersection in LA. The following board from a mention in the New York Times.

The Design Hard at Work:

Design Clarity As Seen On Kraft's Site

The Copy is Nice Too
Across the board the headlines (and copy) are nice reminders of the boxed comfort-food we all grew up with. The copy tends to be succinct and nostalgic without feeling overly retro and work as a nudge to try your favorite dinner again. One could argue that the tagline is far too close to McDonald's I'm Loving It which it probably is but the rest of the copy works hard to get a smile. *I am obligated at this point to make clear that my grandmother's homemade macaroni and cheese was by far superior to anything I could get in a box. It was no contest. But of the boxed varieties and for those without my grandma, Kraft was the optimal choice growing up.*Legal disclaimer ended.

All in all, this is a really strong attempt by Kraft to reconnect with an audience that might have easily moved on to more fancy, expensive (or cheaper), frozen or simply ordered dinners. The work still feels appropriate for the brand but is surprising in its sophistication. And a brand that can surprise us will entertain us so long as it's not too far removed from what we expect from them, if that makes any sense. In other words, the surprise has to be within reason. I hope this campaign not only signals and end to the value/price mentality of large packaged goods companies for a while but also a willingness of category leaders to be brave. The risks are much smaller than the potential rewards. I haven't researched sales data yet (and it may yet be too early to tell) but I suspect this relaunch will make a big difference in their bottom line.

Oh, yeah. It was done by that little shop called Crispin who recently lost their leader.


301. Teaser Shots - Ford Explorer.

In the automotive industry, It's a pretty common practice to release teaser shots of next year's or new models to get the media wondering (and reporting) about the particulars. Manufacturers like to keep the offical reveal for the big auto shows and use the 'leaks' as appetizers beforehand. The images usually look something like this from VW and BMW respectively, all dark and shadowy.

Two More Typical Teaser Shots:

The folks over at Ford have released teaser images for the new 2011 Ford Explorer, but instead of the norm they put a little more thought into the images. I don't need to say a whole lot about them, except that they do the job of a tease but in a way that is consistent with their brand. They tantalize but on a few more levels than a dark clinical studio shot ever could. It's a small thing, but that's what branding is all about. The small things done consistently well.

Ford Explorer 2011 Teaser Images:



300. Smart About Being Smart About Coffee.

We try to cover more topics than mere identity redesigns here on Graphicology, but when we feel we have a scoop we try to publish it. The last few articles were about a week or so ahead of the curve so keep reading and be one week smarter than the next guy. (Or dumber, I'm afraid it might work in that direction too, ha.)

This week 146 year-old Glasgow-based coffee merchant Matthew Algie & Co updated their look to compete with contemporary chains. Normally when an old company decides to 'update' their look bad things tend to happen. History is usually neglected. Tradition is thrown out in favor of some shiny web 2.0 mess. And it gets lampooned on design blogs everywhere. But such is not the case here—at least not entirely. Though not a waterhshed moment in design, the resulting brand is quite serviceable.

A little background from their Facebook page first: Matthew Algie was established in 1864 in Glasgow as an importer and packer of tea. Now the UK’s largest independently owned Coffee roaster, Matthew Algie pioneered the movement towards fresh espresso and ethical coffee sourcing. Chief executive Gary Nicol said the launch at this week's Caffe Culture trade exhibition in London (that this rebrand) represents the largest makeover ever undertaken in the company's history. (Source.) 


Founder, Matthew Algie via wikipedia:

Despite having a rich corporate history, Matthew Algie doesn't seem to have a rich design history and their last identity (below) is rather bland. I'm unsure—and unable to find at present—what their brand looked like before this. I'm sure it was quite different in 1864.


Old Logotype:

The new look was developed by Union Connect out of the UK and features a coffee bean for a brain inside a warm orange enclosure. It's simple and instantly communicates their positioning. When it comes to coffee, we're pretty smart. The tagline We know Coffee, is a fairly overused setup (there have been hundreds of We know (blank) taglines over the years,) and simply reiterates the icon; some would say unnecessarily. (And by some I mean me.) The color palette is appropriate—the orange set against a coffee-brown. The branding also uses a lot of negative space with bright colors implemented as highlights. Though trendy it looks nice. I do have a little bit of an issue with the type, however. I'm certainly glad they didn't go with the same anonymous sans everyone else is using. Let's all cheer that. But their choice of a retro 60's revivalist typeface does not feel right at all. I think maybe a truly hand-rendered face would have been a better option. As is, it simply draws too much attention from the stronger elements that are working. All told the typography is too much Austin Powers and not enough James Bond.


The New Combination Mark:

The initiative was more than a logo redesign. It was fairly comprehensive, involving a new look for everything from stationary to the retail interiors. You can view a temporary website that hints at what's to come. I have to say that between all the real coffee chains out there, and all the ones created by students for their portfolios, it's tough to stand out from the crowd. What this new look does is make the chain feel contemporary, but it also throws them smack in the middle of what everyone else is doing. Is the bean as brain thing totally unique? I'm betting not. It is however a very flexible design element and when used outside of the combination mark itself, shines.


Coffee Brains:

The whole project is well-executed and feels as inviting and approachable as any other coffee retailer, communicating their obvious passion for coffee. You can tell the client totally bought into the design which is also nice to see. Given the company's tradition, I would probably have pushed this further away from Dunkin Donuts territory and more into Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf turf, to use coffee-related examples. My gut is that it will work hard for them but because it lacks the design roots a 146 year-old company should have, it may itself not stand the test of time.


A Complete Redesign Project:




299. Esurance Takes a Step Forward.

If you watch any TV at all you've seen pink-haired animated spokesperson Erin Esurance taking on the gecko of Geico, Flo from Progressive, that guy—you know that guy—from All-State and a slew of other insurance companies. What the Esurance spots lacked in creativity they made up for by standing out stylistically within the category. The main problem with the animations were that they also lent a start-up vibe (or maybe more accurately an amateur vibe) to the company. Not something most people look for in an insurance provider. And in terms of being interesting they were usually rather not.

Well, as of yesterday Erin is taking a backseat to a new live-action campaign for Esurance produced by San Francisco based agency, Duncan/Channon. The spots take place in the offices of Esurance and utilize several employees; Mica, Frank, Chad, and Sanjeev. The idea is, as they interact with each other they also give the viewer all the hard-sell info about why they should choose Esurance. The tone is light-hearted but effective. The first two spots succeed on this level and are well-acted and even borderline endearing. This is a compliment. I think with enough refinement and time the characters could even become icons and the banter between them good enough to fill longer-format webisodes. (Ugh, I just used the word webisodes didn't I?) I'm not predicting they go out and try a sitcom like the cavemen just yet, I'm simply saying there is potential with what I've seen so far for this setup to work long-term, and in longer formats if they don't get too heavy-handed with the salesmanship.

There are other things going on beyond the actual spots too. Nice things. For one, they are debuting a new tagline / business strategy that in my mind responds to the current market like few that I have witnessed. I think it's smart, well written, and provides the foundation for everything they are trying to communicate to potential customers. I even like how it's split into two parts and works visually as two moving pieces. Now that I mention it, the tagline works better because of how they are designing it. The positioning is a strong response (not reaction) to market realities and articulates how I feel about a lot of services. The words contain a timely articulate truth.

The New Esurance Tagline / Strategy:

The official press release quotes Chief Marketing Officer John Swigart, "Consumers told us they felt they had to compromise when making their auto insurance buying decision, having to choose between useful online tools or personalized, human interaction. However, they are really looking for a company that will provide them the best of both worlds: great technology along with a human touch."

Esurance: Hug it Out:

By now you've noticed this isn't the same Esurance work. No animation. Erin only appears within the office setting (though often.) And oh yeah - they've updated their entire brand identity. We've got new colors, new typography and new style all around. You're seeing a softer, better kerned rounded sans face replacing an alltogether ugly logotype. There is no symbol to speak of and it's not missed in the least. Everything is given space, kept simple, and is consistent. All good boxes to check.

The New Esurance Logotype:
They're doing all the little things too. They've started a blog called Dashboard to help give the company a more personal feel. They've got the Twitter and Facebook pages going to promote the new them. Esurance is also giving a more in-depth peek behind the employees you see in the spots via a mini-site, InsideEsurance. Here you can read short bios about each character as well as watch the spots. Now, yes the characters do feel to be researched and tested to include just the right mix of gender, ethnicity, age and the like to appeal to as many people as possible; and it shows a bit; but that's probably unavoidable. I imagine as the campaign evolves so will the employees, er, actors paid to be employees.

Esurance: The Saver:

Now before you get all excited, I'm not saying this campaign is the be-all, end-all in creativity. Nor does it rival Nike's Rewrite the Future everyone is in love with (which you can view two posts below, btw.) What I am saying is that this work resides in a much tougher category, with more complex business problems and has been produced with—more likely than not—a more demanding client. Also, it's nice to see a company improve their advertising instead of going in the opposite direction. They chose a good agency and let them do their thing. They utilized solid design and branding work. They recognized where their brand has been and kept animated Erin in the work, even if just a little. And the spots have charm. This is a step forward for Esurance. Now all the company has to do is back up this solid work with great customer service. No easy task to be sure. (And For those counting at home, that's two posts in a row that we can put in the positive category. Huzzah.)

2 of 4 Esurance Spokes-employees, Mica and Frank:


298. TCBY's New Logo? Just the Jimmies on the Top.

TCBY is a 30 year-old brand that is about to take some seriously courageous steps in order to revitalize its business. And even though this is a communications blog, it's clear that the design is perhaps the very least of the changes.

The company announced today that the development of a new store prototype is complete and ready to be launched in their hometown of Salt Lake City in July. The most important aspect of this initiative is a switch from the standard counter-service model to one centered around self-service stations. Attempting to recapture the leadership of the frozen yogurt category, TCBY anticipates that many franchisees will follow along in the near future. In fact, one store in North Carolina is opening with a self-serve format including some elements from the prototype, and another location is in the middle of converting. 

Restaurant News quotes Tim Casey, Chief Executive of TCBY's parent company as saying, “We feel like the tone of the experience, energy and choice self-serve offers the consumer is not only a dramatic departure from our current experience, but a departure from the category as a whole,” said Casey, who joined the company in May. “There has been a shift in behavior that clearly indicates that consumers like choice, convenience and options.” Wow. You don't see many stores with this much heritage willing to change things up this dramatically very often. 

 2 New Concept Renderings:

The new self-serve stationsThe new social lounge

TCBY's internal creative team and agency StruckAxiom have been working in tandem to design the experience which includes the new format, but also a refreshed brand and retail experience. The retail interiors will be more modern, bright, and colorful with a comfort level to match upstarts Red Mango (of which I have a beautiful Arabic version I need to upload here) and Pinkberry who have taken a little bit of the limelight from TCBY. Looking at the renderings there will be a lot of crisp lines, architectural paneling, clean surfaces and splashes of comfort and color throughout. The main focal point is something they are calling a social lounge which is the central seating area. I think they would be happy if customers came to TCBY to hangout, or at least to enjoy their stay enough to return. The self-serve bar starts with 10 to 16 soft-serve options and ends with a topping bar including everything from fresh fruit to hot fudge. Your creation will be priced by the ounce, at .39 cents each. I realize there are others in the business doing the self-serve thing, but these are the category leaders. Short of selling tires instead of yogurt, could they be changing more about their business?

Another Rendering of the New Look:

Now the branding has changed just as much as the store experience. Gone will be the seemingly hand-drawn and chunky-purple TCBY and in their place will be a modern almost digital-looking sans. The remodeled typography features rounded terminals and 90-degree bars coming off the t and y which are also now lowercase and pink. The new color palette moves away from the muddled southwestern-ish purple and green, to a vibrant neon pink, yellow, lime and cyan with a liberal use of negative space to boot. 

New Logo Compared with Old:

New Logo Compared with Competitors:

Part of the new branding is an attempt to redefine what TCBY stands for, which historically has been their tagline, The Country's Best Yogurt. In-store pieces feature new acronyms; totally cold & bold yogurt, tasty creamy blissful yogurt, and the creamy best yogurt among others. Basically they are more casual and approachable superlatives than before, though I imagine the old tag will play its part. I probably could do without this acronym element, though it doesn't exactly bother me since it is part of their past. It's harmless at worst.

TCBY Acronyms In-store:

StruckAxiom along with research company, Foster Research and Consulting, focus group tested the new logotype (which is usually the death knell of anything original or good) and received positive feedback on the new identity. Freshness, health and relevancy were areas where the mark scored highly. Both companies had glowing things to say about their client (And they better, right?!?). "

"From conception to roll out, TCBY has empowered us to explore boundaries and blend art with commerce while creating an experience that will resonate with existing and new customers," said Brent Watts, executive creative director at StruckAxiom. "It's OK if customers walk into the new store and recognize, 'this is not your parent’s TCBY.' It's designed to be cross generational."

Now for some critique. First, I applaud the courage to try something new. A lot of companies—particularly in the restaurant business—die a long and painful death to status quo. It's easier to do nothing and the fact that someone, whether newly hired Tim Casey or someone else had the vision and then the fortitude to see it through is amazing given most companies' bureaucracy. That said, parent company Mrs. Fields emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October of 2008 so maybe the changes didn't come quite quickly enough. But it came and that's good enough for one casual observer. Hats off to them for trying to turn their business upside-down in order to save it. Personally, I see the change to self-serve as a reaction to an increasingly DIY culture, stiff competition and a tougher economic climate. I bet the new format allows for fewer employees, better profit margins and perhaps impressively enough—a better customer experience though I'll have to try it first to see. You know... strictly for research purposes.

The new design is tough not to like. (If you are a regular reader of design blogs you know how designers love to hate everything that they didn't do. A love to loathe as it were.) Well, I'm no easy judge on my work or others for that matter but this update is just as bold and courageous as the new business plan. I like the new typography, friendly with a contemporary edge that matches the interior/signage work. There is a slight issue with the y looking like a 4, but in its current shape it also mirrors the cups yogurt is served in, which I like. So, I can forgive that. I also wonder with Baskin-Robbins in the mix, if they can truly own the pink or magenta color? Are they far enough apart from each other's core audience? Slight ssues aside, this is a solid effort in my opinion. More importatly, the design (and other changes) are a shot across the bows of other industry players that the giant has been awoken. Who knows if the triad of a new plan, new design and new branding will result in a more robust consumer base? But at least these guys tried something. Look for the new work to slowly spread throughout the more than 800 global TCBY locations.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a hankering for some chocolate jimmies and chocolate yogurt to execute. (I actually grew up calling those sprinkles, but enjoy saying the name jimmies much much more. Ha.)  Oh, and with Father's Day right around the corner you can get a free cup or cone for Dad on June 20th at your local TCBY. He deserves it. He puts up with you afterall.

*A lot of the information in this article relied heavily on two articles. One from Restaurant News. And the other from QSRweb. Not normally part of my regular reading, but wonderful ways to stay up on the food industry.



297. World Cup Advertising.

There's only one event that displays more advertising clout than the Super Bowl and that's the World Cup. And the cool thing about the world cup is that—well, it includes the world—so we get an international peek into the industry and culture surrounding the sport of futbol, football, soccer or whatever you call it. Graphicology will be looking out for the best, worst, and most interesting work this year and posting them below. I'll update this post often so be sure to come back. And if you have any tips, send them away. Oh, there's about 70 spots on the next page so give it a moment to load. Enjoy.

Click to read more ...


296. Does The World Still Need Libraries?

As much as I enjoy them, libraries seem to be one of the entities struggling most to stay relevant to an increasingly online populace. Digital references and e-readers seem—at least on the surface— to not only be publication killers but library killers as well. And it is in this environment that the city of Birmingham (UK) is launching a brand new £193m library project in the center of the west side neighborhood.

The New Library of Birmingham Identity:

Plans by Dutch architects, Mecanoo were approved last fall and the site is still in the early stages of construction. Even though the opening is more than a year and a half away in 2013, the library is launching a campaign (called Rewriting the Book) to help connect the new institution with the community and present the library as a destination for more than mere books. The campaign features a new identity, online video, installations, ads and a contest to submit yourself as one of 26 characters that the library will use to explain this momentous project.

Meet Dalvinder Via an Early Installation:

Meet Frank Via an Introductory Video (Click to Play):

Four of the first five sets of faces have already been announced and each one features a short profile of the person, a introductory video that explains the role of a library in their life, and a colorful graphic representation of how the library is more than books. The creative work was developed by UK design consultancy KLM and has already begun appearing around the development site. Jon Derry, chairman at KLM said the building (and the campaign) is making "a statement of radical change and bold ambition, it acknowledges that, from the outset, the new Library of Birmingham will challenge (and continue to challenge) the conventions and definition of what a library should be."

Meet Matt. Another Look at the Design:

So will Birmingham succeed in connecting the library to the community? Can a library thrive in today's digital environment? And can the library still be a hub of modern life much as it has been for hundreds of years? Of course only time will tell, but it's nice to see someone putting some funds, energy and yes—design behind the effort. I hope they succeed. To find out more visit the library's site or facebook page.

Rewriting The Book Design Element Detail:


295. Ad of The Week: Sherwin-Williams.

Regular readers know that I enjoy ambitious creative more than any other kind. The type that takes awhile and demands attention to detail and time. Lots and lots of time. NC-based agency McKinney recently produced a spot for paint manufacturer/retailer Sherwin-Williams that fits that description.

The agency teamed up with the motion-graphics gurus at Buck (check out their reel, it rocks) to explore a world of color using the company's swatches as the medium. The result immerses the viewer into a new world of color and dimension and would work extremely well on the big screen it's that good. The concept is pretty simple but the execution demands a second or third look.

Stills from Paint Chips:

Paint Chips is the first of a multi-spot campaign that also includes print, online, rich media, the obligatory iphone app and perhaps some outdoor. If I have one gripe is that I think the print falls a bit short compared to the craftsmanship apparent in the spot. The paper craft is fine, I just think it lacks the motion and scale that works so well when set in video. I would also like to see their entire website take on this look, but who knows that could always be in the works as a good campaign can take a year, sometimes more, to fully develop across all mediums. I also think this campaign is in a pretty tough category and give credit to the client for buying into something beyond the usual couple-painting-the-living-room scenario. Also to their credit, they allowed the style to carry into the title card at the end. A nice touch.

Paint Chip Title Card Still:

The Paint Chips Spot

The second spot in this campaign, Bees, carries the idea further and is simply gorgeous.

Stills From Bees

The Bees Spot

Credits on the spots include:

Directed By: Buck
Production House: Buck NY
Creative Director: Orion Tait
Executive Producer: Kate Treacy
Producer: Kevin Hall
Lead Art Director: Ben Langsfeld
Art Director: Joshua Harvey
Design: Ben Langsfeld, Joshua Harvey
Storyboards: Pete McDonald
CG Supervisor: Joshua Harvey
3D Modeling: Arvid Volz, David Soto
3D Animation: Joshua Harvey, Pete Hamilton, Chris Hendryx, Arvid Volz
3D Character Animation: Jordan Blit
3D Rigging: Lee Wolland
3D Lighting/Shading: Kevin Couture, Lars Holmgren, Chris Hendryx, Hanwei Wu Composite: Daniel Oeffinger, Conrad Ostwald, Joshua Harvey Additional Design: Jon Gorman Agency: McKinney Producer: Josh Eggleston GCD: Ellen Steinberg Copywriter: Jenny Nicholson Art Director: John Hagerty Color Grade: Company 3 Colorist: Tim Masick


294. Golden State Design Warriors.

Now, this is an interesting way to introduce a new identity. The NBA's Golden State Warriors are launching their new look using a bit of fan participation and social media elements. More details were reported last week via Sports Business Daily, "The Warriors today will begin a multi-pronged digital effort to highlight their forthcoming new logos, color scheme, website and uniforms. The team has created a social media Easter Egg hunt where fans will be invited to find clues and engage with the club's outposts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, with puzzle piece clues combining to show the new primary logo. Fans participating in the contest will get a chance to win '10-11 season tickets and other prizes."

On ESPN, Kyle Spencer (Executive Director of Marketing for the Warriors) has this to say about the approach: "We decided to flip the traditional logo unveiling on its head... We're taking advantage of our fans' enthusiasm for finding our logo by making an Easter egg hunt game out of it, utilizing social networks and platforms." The contest—called Warriors Draft Challenge because it precedes the NBA Draft—runs from May 20th through May 31st and features a new challenge questions for nine of the days. The questions will be asked through the facebook, twitter, YouTube and flickr accounts of the Warriors. If you answer the challenge correctly 1/9th of the new logo is shown, and the entire look is revealed with all nine correct answers. What's nice about this approach from a marketing perspective is that this can expose current fans to new sources of team content that may be underutilized.

Let's take a look at the Warriors' design history.

The standout in this group of past looks has to be The CITY combination mark of 1962 through 1971 when the team was in San Francisco. I'm not sure it's the best designed but it has aged pretty well and is one of the favorite retro looks in the game. On the official site, former guard Al Attles talked about The City uniforms: "It had the bridge on the front with the words The City and a cable car on the back... Imagine, we’re in New York, people from New York consider it the Big Apple, The City...I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but nobody wanted to be the first to take the jacket off. Finally, we take the jackets off and I’ll be darned if we don’t get a standing ovation from the New York crowd." Gradually the organization has moved away from the native aspect of the name, making it less specific almost to a fault. Who knows what the current warrior is really supposed to be, but it reminds me of the Akzo Nobel guy.

The Current Warrior:

The CITY retro Jersey used a few years ago:

The Weezer-esque flying W mark that is also being replaced.

I imagine that the new direction will keep with the movement away from any Native American references given growing sensitivities to such things. And I would be surprised if they went near The CITY look again, as that came from neighboring San Francisco and the team is more identified with Oakland these days. It will be interesting to see where the team goes with this project. No word yet if the identity work is being done in-house, but the marketing effort behind it largely is. My hope is that the resulting design is as interesting as the process of unwrapping it. (Be warned. Seeing copperplate on the contest page isn't a good sign.)

Go ahead and sign up to play. I'll be playing the role of spoiler far below as an update.

Screen Grab of Contest:


293. Up There.

Photo used via Creative Commons - lewsviews on FlickrThis is wonderful. Anytime we can get a peek behind the scenes of a craft, I'm all for it. Add a bit of melancholy and it's just too much. Concepted by agency Mother NY, Up There is a look at the dying (or surviving) art of advertising and sign painting in New York. It looks like this was supported by client Stella Artois, which has been doing a lot of film-related work and seems to appreciate producing more narrative-type advertising—which I personally enjoy. (For instance, their smooth original shorts that we blogged about on Article #237.) Up There matches the spirit of my interview with James Chastain and should be enjoyed with an eye to the past and an eye to the future. Yes there is some craft put into the new vinyl outdoor pieces (at least on the front-end) but you can't help but want to give these artists more work. It would be in good hands. Watch via Vimeo here.

And while you're in the mood, check out all these awesome 'ghost signs' via Flickr.

Full credits: Concept: Mother NY; Production Co: Mekanism; Director/DP/Editor: Malcolm Murray; Music by The Album Leaf; Painters: Colossal Media/Sky High Murals/Bob Middleton; Presented by Stella Artois.