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205. Ad of the Week: Double-Man Stroller.

I could interpret this spot from Jack in the Box as being demeaning to men, reiterating the way men are usually portrayed in sitcoms – fat, dumb, irresponsible, and stupid. I could see this spot as justification for books like Save the Males. I could also review this spot as just one more example of how middle-aged white men are increasingly the only safe, politically-correct butt of jokes - since you can't make fun of anyone else. I could say a lot of things - except that the spot is simply too funny. Sometimes, you can get away with a lot if you have a good sense of comedic timing, and this spot does. What I like best is they could have stopped with putting a single guy in a large baby-stroller - but they went all out and added more ridiculousness to the idea and made it a twin, full-grown man stroller. And it's the interaction of the two 'kids' that makes it work. Love it. The first spot to make me laugh out loud in awhile. The spot was done by SecretWeapon, Jack's agency since 1993. The cool thing about SecretWeapon is that they take on no more than three clients at a time. Which I think is an interesting idea. And their work for Jack is consistently good.


204. House Industries.

My favorite thing to come out of Yorklyn, Delaware - House Industries really knows how to do things right. I've ordered a few fonts from them in previous jobs - at one point I was seeing Neutra Text in my sleep - and they always take a little extra care with the packaging. I recently ordered a studio t-shirt from their collection (the very awesome '&' shirt) and got an email notice saying it was shipped the next day. And when it arrived it came in a handsome House33 box with a little catalogue, a few decals, and a striking pink and metallic silver invoice. It's the little things that keep you coming back, and I just wanted to share their attention to detail. Well done.

House 33 Box:


The whole package - minus a few decals I gave away:


203. Obsessive Design.

I wasn’t going to post about Sagmeister’s latest design/art piece, as it’s getting a lot of play elsewhere. Except, I love it. Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of his work, but he may have just won me over with his penny installation that states: “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.” And that got me thinking about a lot of my favorite work – and how a good bit of it has an over-the-top, obsessive-compulsive ingredient. I truly enjoy work that someone(s) had to slave over to make happen, work that took effort, work that is done on a grand scale. Unfortunately, few projects within an ad agency come with the time that these type of things require, so I also look at them with a bit of jealousy too. There are so many, but here are a few of my favorites off the top of my head - recognizing that I'm no doubt forgetting a bunch of obvious ones. Submit your own favorite obsessive-compulsive design project via the comments.

The aforementioned Sagmeister Installation.
I could have included a number of his projects, he's sort of the king of obsessiveness, but this is the first one that stopped me in my tracks. His project site.

WK12’s Fail Harder Installation.
This was done a few years ago, and I still love it. Nothing but inspiration, time, and effort. I also like the little project done as a response – installed around the corner...proving a completely different point.



  Marian Bantjes Sustainable Piece.
A lot of her work could be described as a touch obsessive compulsive, but this one more than most. More of her work here.

VM World Conference Chalkboards.
Done by Brian Rea and Nicholas Blechman, live – in front of conference goers. This piece had to be guarded by security between days, and a third artist worked the lift.

2003 Adobe Design Awards Poster.
I’m not sure who did this, but I love it. Sometimes it’s the scale that makes it work. (Note: Another Sagmeister piece it appears.)

Justin Quinn’s E fine-art.
From the artist, “I started recognizing my studio time as a quasi-monastic experience. There was something sublime about both the compositions that I was making and the solitude in which they were made. It was as if I were translating some great text like a subliterate medieval scribe would have years ago—with no direct understanding of the source material.” More here.


202. Surf Logos.


I just happened across this collection of surf logos while researching another project - and it's great. There are a few gems throughout and it's worth the search. Enjoy.

A few selects:




201. This stuff is a real bummer.

I'm not one to spar over political affiliations, but certainly an open discussion of current events is vital to a healthy democracy/republic. Take the war in Iraq, and the cost to wage it. The folks over at GOOD have put together a motion-graphics presentation of the monetary costs, which is almost impossible to fathom. GOOD may be a bit biased in their presentation of some issues, but if nothing else the information shows that it is a more expensive price tag than what we were once told. By a lot. And something else to consider when discussing monetary costs - is value. Would we feel better about this expense were we protecting the unprotected in Darfur? Or waging a more altruistic campaign in another trouble spot? Rebuilding Levees in New Orleans? Or heck, just paying down our national debt?

From a design standpoint the graphics are clean and quickly communicate the necessary information as the narrative progresses. The animation is no more than what it has to be, letting the information take center stage, much like well-designed type lets the meaning stand in front of the letterforms. The color palette is somewhat patriotic to a bitter effect and the motion kicks in to add not distract. Watch it here. Between this and the financial bailout mess - well, it's a mess. Some stills to study:


200. Maybe My Least Favorite Ad. Ever.

So, I’m watching a little football while working a long weekend recently and on comes this spot.  Two sweet young girls begin to talk to their dad in what appears at first to be a fairly standard, somewhat boring, but nice Hallmark-moment type of spot. Soft music sets the mood. “Dad... It’s time.” And we cut to the normal looking dad as he reads the paper while the girls continue, “You’d be a really nice catch for somebody.”  And then they present a box of Just For Men. (See the ad at the bottom of this post.)

Gross. Seriously, this is gross. Somebody needs to stop this kind of garbage.

The spot continues with the dad taking a cellphone pic of his newly found shallow girlfriend and sending it to his girls. “See girls, making yourself look like what the media projects as the ideal appearance can help you score dates! Remember this when you are of dating age.”

Sometimes advertising can be a lot of fun and a rewarding career. Then you see something like this and it makes you feel dirty just being associated with the industry. Let me count the number of ways in which this spot is gross. Keeping in mind that I’m getting closer to the demographic they are targeting every day and have more than a few grays showing up.

  1. The girls – who look to be about seven and ten respectively – seem to have already been socialized into thinking that gray hair (and no doubt other visible signs of aging) make you old and ‘less of a catch' and less of a person.
  2. They are insinuating that their dad, probably a decent guy, isn’t a catch with gray hair. Is it normal to present children in such a disgusting, materialistic and manipulative way?
  3. The way the spot should have ended: The dad takes the girls aside and explains how the exterior of a human being isn’t the important thing as it’s the character of a person that counts. And any date worth being a ‘potential mom’ would not only understand that, but be looking for a person of substance herself.
  4. As a guy, this does not make me like this company at all. It is derogatory, condescending, manipulative and disgustingly shallow.
  5. The ad has no other redeeming qualities to make up for this - “You’re getting Old!” approach. Maybe if it were funny, actually kind of sweet instead of sick, informative or otherwise interesting we could forgive the grossness. But it doesn’t. It’s just another twisted view of the world from a company that – if it were a person – you would never want to talk to, let along invite into your home.
  6. And a tiny art direction complaint - one of the girls' socks at the end of the spot are disgustingly dirty. Ha.
I don’t have a problem with the product in general. I don’t have a problem with people who use it, maybe I will choose to someday. I just have a problem with this disgusting, foul brand talking to me like I’m less than a person if I don’t use their product. If you buy into ‘branding’ than you should try to act like a brand that respects people. There are other ways to go about it. For instance, “It’s sad that other people will look at your gray hair and make judgments about your age, virility, energy and competence. But they will. You can do something about it, if you so choose...” Not a great ad, but a much better strategy starting point. Of course, woman have been dealing with this type of stuff for a long time, but men are becoming an increasingly popular target for insecurity based advertising lately.

Can you tell I hate this kind of stuff? It is advertising at its worst. So who is responsible for this? Ultimately the client - White Plains, N.Y.-based Combe. But the ad agency bears a lot of the responsibility too. (Though I can't find out who that is. La Agencia used to do their Hispanic marketing... but no dice on the 'regular' stuff.) This spot almost makes me miss their sports legend ads featuring a creepy Keith Hernendez and Walt Frazier trying to attract more ladies. (And that's saying something.) And Yes, this entry breaks the record for the number of times I have used the word disgusting.


199. Metallica Album Art.

I never thought I would write Metallica and Turner Duckworth in the same sentence, but it turns out that the brand firm was sought out by the band to rework their identity and album art for their new release, Death Magnetic. Brand New has it covered, and i don't like to just link to someone else's work - but I didn't want anyone to miss it. It's a great write-up about an interesting collaboration. Say what you want about their music, but that's a smart band right there. The work looks great and the tweaking of the famous Metallica logo deserves examination.

Death Magnetic Cover:


Logo Tweak:


198. A Little Oatmeal.

I have to say that I like the packaging for Starbucks' The Perfect Oatmeal. It has a lot to do with the fact that this is a breakfast item they can do and do well - and the package is exactly as it should be. (You'd have to put a gun to my head to get me to buy a bagel at Starbucks, but I digress.) The Oatmeal comes in a sturdy little cup with a lid – think Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream cartons – and are designed with the fall in mind. I'm definitely swayed by their use of Clarendon (obviously a favorite typeface of mine) and i believe that's Mrs. Eaves being used generously, but the color palette and little details showed that somebody took a little extra time with it. The design team at Starbucks does a nice job generally, and this is no exception. And although I'm not sure that I'd call it perfect, the oatmeal wasn't bad either. (You can get it with berries or brown sugar for those interested.) Here are a few pics.

The Cup:

A Little Copy:


The Lid:




197. Mexican Mail Pink and Green.

The same press release is being covered in a million other places announcing the changing Identity of the Mexican Post Office. Apparently, it has a reputation of being slow and unreliable and they decided to change their color palette from blue/red to a pink/lime green combination. The new look also features a white carrier pigeon clutching an envelope. Not subtle, that's for sure - but I'm not certain how that's supposed to fix shoddy customer service. I have included the three small pictures included in the release. If anyone has the old logo, or more information - please let me know. I think the color palette is bold and I applaud that, but it's unfortunate that the pigeon and the rest of the symbol are so sloppy and un-crafted. There are some weird shapes going on in there.

(This was the best coverage of the news release that I found.)

New Look:

Not Looking Confident At All:


196. Harley’s Dark Custom Bikes.

What happens when a brand with roots in anarchist bike gangs and rowdy subculture needs to reestablish their roughneck ways? They create an even more tough and tumble sub-brand. For 2009 Harley-Davidson has launched Dark Custom. Dark Custom is a series of six bikes featuring bare knuckles design that mixes the creativity of the custom aftermarket with bare bones finishes. According to an earlier New York Times article, “The styling intended to appeal to younger riders and to evoke the company’s earlier days, when the association of motorcycles and rebelliousness was much closer."

Of particular note is the departure from the more corporate look that Harley has gradually taken on over the last few years, and the new identity. The Dark Custom look features a large numeral 1, that is a much darker, meaner version of the old Evel Kneivel red/white/blue 1. (The Times said the 1 logo was, “used by the company when it was owned by AMF, the sporting goods conglomerate, from 1969 to 1981.” ) And the Dark Custom minisite is an homage to grainy footage and gritty photography to match the tone of the design. All of this in an effort to bring younger buyers into the Harley fold. Personally, I love the matte blacks and minimal chrome and have certainly noticed that you can get the Nightster (the Dark Custom version of the Sportster) starting at about 10G. Harley, the way they ought to be. Dark.

DC1 logo:

Old Evel Kneivel 1 logo:

The Nightster:

The Night-Rod:

And I love this: Even though it has nothing to do with the Dark Custom. "MPG describes riding like biology describes sex." Nice: