Category Archives: Visual Identity

Airmen, Fly Girls and Shark teeth

noseart ran

Going beyond simple lettering and pictures, airplane nose art was a form of power, good luck, ownership and a blushing reminder of home for the crews.  

The practice of embellishing personalized insignias and decorations on military fighter aircraft was said to have originated with Italian and German pilots with the first recorded piece of nose art being a sea monster painted on the nose of an Italian flying boat in 1913. The idea must have taken on because around that time, the Swedish pioneering aviator, “the flying Baron” Carl Cederström purchased a Donnet-Lévêque sea-biplane for his flying school, Scandinavian Aviatik AB and similarly applied a fish-scaled motif to the craft. Cederström named it “Flygfisken” (Flying Fish).

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Audrey Hepburn advertises Galaxy chocolate bars, 20 years after her death.

Audrey Hepburn has come back to life to flog chocolate. She’s not the first posthumous saleswoman, reports Simon Usborne.

Simon Usborne of The Independent writes “A fictional, yellow celebrity perhaps best summed up the weird lot of the famous dead person. “You  celebrities need to realise that the public owns you for life,” Homer Simpson said. “And after you’re dead, you’ll all be in commercials dancing with vacuum cleaners.”

Simpson was referring to Fred Astaire (d.1987) whose controversial, computer-assisted number with a Dirt Devil in 1997 was authorised by his widow but led his daughter to say she was “saddened that after his wonderful career he was sold to the devil”.

Now Audrey Hepburn has become the latest face to be disinterred for promotional purposes, returning to the screen 20 years after her death to advertise a chocolate bar.

A minute-long spot for Galaxy entitled “Choose Silk Chauffeur”, revealed during ITV1’s Mr Selfridge, places a young Hepburn on a bus in traffic on the Amalfi Coast in the 1950s. A Galaxy bar tempts her from her handbag. She makes eyes with a hot man in an open-top, swiftly swapping vehicles before tucking in as they speed away.

This time, Hepburn’s sons, who control her estate, authorised the use of her image,  for which they will have received a fee. Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti say their mother would be “proud” of her new role, adding in a press release that she “often spoke about her love of chocolate and how it lifted her spirit”.

Galaxy Chocolate, a Mars Chocolate brand, teamed up with ad agency AMV BBDO and production company Framestore, to recreate Hepburn in their newest  and impressive commercial. Set on Italy’s Amalfi Coast; circa 1950’s, we find the  beauty stuck in a bus and desirous of her chocolate. According to Framestore, the production process was arduous and included discovering a Hepburn double, and utilising VFX techniques to form a Computer-Generated Audrey.

Commented Flavia Barbat, Branding Magazine: “The icon’s eyes and smile are said to have been most difficult and, although the Framestore team hoped to utilize real eyes (for which the actress’s similarities were cast), they ended up rebuilding all of Hepburn’s face.”

As for the smile, CG VFX Supervisor, Simon French, states:

“It is amazing how unique and recognizable a person’s smile is. When you see it in this detail, it really needs to look perfect.”

Remarkable execution aside, I am wondering if the visual effects of the commercial will overshadow Galaxy’s branding purposes. Although the aesthetic success of the commercial will bring it all of the publicity it requires, I hope that viewers are capable of comprehending the interaction between the chocolate brand and Hepburn’s legacy. Hepburn is of a Golden Age, a time period that oozes sensuality and luxury, while chocolate consumption is trademarked with parallel descriptors. Beneath the fantastic spectacle of the commercial lies a powerful and well-developed partnership between the one-of-a-kind beauty and Galaxy’s promoted rich, rare taste. After all, the video concludes with the question: Why have cotton when you can have silk?”

For today’s Millenial generation, too young to know her work, seeing a posthumous gamine Hepburn might indeed renew a love of a screen icon of the past. But what’s next after chocolates? Washing detergents… vacuum cleaners?

A more morbid question is raised when Usborne asks, “As the words of the younger Astaire show, the image rights and posthumous  fortunes of the departed can lay legal and ethical minefields for brands, and raise the morbid question: who owns dead people?”

When there’s money to be made, may the dead never rest in peace.


Absolutely Absolut

 

The old maxim “If it ain’t broke, don’t change it” holds true for Absolut vodka. Since 1980, the vodka manufacturer has been running essentially the same print advertising campaign where the ads in the campaign make sly reference to Absolut’s distinctive stubby neck and see-through label bottle with tongue-in-cheek variations to the two word tagline.

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Unchanged melody…

John Lewis ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ new TV commercial sets out to prove that what’s really important in life doesn’t change either.

Says the publicity blurb: “The advert is the story of two people falling in love. On the left side of the screen we see the girl’s side of the story. She lives in 1925, the year that John Lewis made its life long commitment to Never Knowingly Undersold. On the right side of the screen we see the boy’s side of the story. He lives in the present day.

By bringing their two worlds together as one, we show that falling in love, and embarking on a relationship, is a universal story which will keep being replayed throughout time. While many aspects of our lives today are very different to almost a century ago, the really important things haven’t changed at all.”

Awww… shucks, that’s so sweeet. But its a clever concept, one that broaches the parameters of time and space and love. Now for some strange reason, I have a sudden craving to see the movie “Back to the Future” again.

The soundtrack is a cover of the INXS song, Never Tear Us Apart, re-recorded by Paloma Faith.


Penguins… for all interests

Advertising agency Young & Rubicam, Malaysia is promoting Penguin Books’ range and diversity in this print and poster campaign entitled “More than just the Classics”. Funny, but I absolutely can’t help think of some great ad campaigns involving a particular vodka manufacturer…


Ridley Scott’s Hovis ‘Bike’ advert 1973 (Britain’s favourite TV ad)


Hovis ad depicting the last 122 years of British history


The Making of the Hovis Bread advert


YourSingapore logo – Virtual depiction of Singapore

After 7 years, Singapore Tourism Board has quietly dropped the much maligned ‘Uniquely Singapore’ slogan.

In its place is ‘YourSingapore’ –  a logo some found bland, non-controversial, with no meaning at all; others however delighted in its visual cliché animated version finding it engaging and literally, more dynamic. Looking past the typography, the morphing clump of imagery makes a contour of Singapore’s shape and as seen in the video above, is sublimely cool.

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Beautiful Communication

 


The BUG is back!



Singapore – Where Worlds Meet

This ‘Where Worlds Meet’ spot is produced by Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific and shot in high-definition across the modern landscape of Singapore. Tthe concept of the “shiny red dot” takes symbolic centre-stage in the lives of 10 iconic Singaporean personalities.

The spot precedes the 6-part series titled “Living Cities – Singapore”, centred around the themes of Liveability, Heritage, Sustainability, Responsibility, Creativity and Vibrancy. The series started airing mid-December 2010.


Sagmeister and the Making of “Here For Good”


Your Singapore TVC


Visual Identity: History of the British Army Uniform – Redcoats

Of redcoats, mad dogs and Englishmen…

Scots Guards, Battle of Alma, Crimea 1854

The British Army of early times was a well funded, trained and equipped military force. Attired in sharp looking uniforms considered impracticable by today’s standards; the army had a history spanning over 350 years and was involved in numerous European, colonial conflicts and world wars.

The army played an important part in shaping Britain’s history and helped established the former British Empire.

Storming of Badajoz by the 88th Regiment of Foot. Picture by Chris Collingwood.

The Infantry army of the British Army, may be said to be exceptional in two ways.

Firstly, despite the economic stringency resulting in amalgamations of regiments, changing methods of warfare and the reduction of British power in the world, the infantry has survived essentially for a good three centuries which in turn has given it much of its moral strength and prestige.

Secondly, the British infantry has a long history of experience in campaigning in more parts of the world than any other infantry of any other country. From the Americans, Burmese, Chinese to the Zulus, indeed, from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ the British infantry has fought them all.

The most salient, indeed the most visual feature of the uniform of the British infantryman has always been his scarlet or red coat.

The prominent military writer and researcher, Michael Barthorp professes that even though “there have been exceptions to this, and in our more utilitarian age duller colours predominate, but even today it can still be observed in the full dress of the Foot Guards and, occasionally, on drummers and bandsmen at ceremonial marches.

This fine, martial colour has been worn by other elements of the British army, and indeed by some other armies, but its visual effect on enemies and allies alike has generally been to signify the presence of the British Infantry.

Before Ramillies, Louis XIV exhorted Marshal Villeroi ‘to have particular attention to that part of the line which will endure the first shock of the English troops’. When Villeroi observed the red ranks massing against his left, he reinforced according from his centre – with subsequent catastrophe for himself.

Nearly 180 years later, at Ginniss in the Sudan, the infantry were ordered to resume their red uniforms, the better to overawe the Dervishes; this was the last occasion when red was worn in action.”


Carrier bags in Singapore, 1950s-’80s

Caught this at the National Museum of Singapore, more than just paper, glue and string… this was a virtual trip down memory lane of ‘cheena’ looking letter-press printed paperbags with their red and white twine carrier handles.

But whether paper or plastic, we certainly were no strangers to carrier bags; it was a common form of ‘convenient’ packaging and an alternative to the rattan basket.

The exhibition showcases 60 paper and plastic bags in the National Museum’s collection.

Together with contextual photos, the display highlights different uses of the ubiquitous carrier bag; its role as a mobile advertisement, and also shed light on the paper bag business in Singapore – a much forgotten trade that is still surviving today.

It runs from 19 December 2009 to 18 April 2010.

Museum exhibition panel - darn cool design

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Pepsi New Logo – Smile if you love it

Arnell Design Agency, responsible for Pepsi’s new US$1 million brand identity rationalized their controversial ‘smiley’ redesign with a 27-page design brief entitled “Breathtaking”. It’s been said that the presentation reads like a scientific white paper, infused with psycho-marketingspeak (and what some sources define as unprecedented levels of highly creative BS). Comments Matt Casey of Bevnet.com , “Apparently, the gravitational pull of the sun, the Mona Lisa, the exponential growth of the universe, Earth’s magnetic field and Pepsi’s new logos all have something in common – at least if you believe the design agency that created it.”

Aaron Perry-Zucker of Fast Company Magazine (read article below) called it “branding lunacy… perpetrated by somebody calling himself a designer…  Every page of this document is more ridiculous than the last ending with a pseudo-scientific explanation of how Pepsi’s new branding identity will manifest it’s own gravitational pull.”

Equally critical was the L.A. Times: “Behold, then, the scattered and burning debris field of one of corporate America’s most misbegotten image makeovers… According to the brief, the new Pepsi logo lies along a trajectory of human consciousness that includes in its arc the Vastu Shastra, a 3,000-year-old Hindu architectural guide; Pythagoras (the Golden Section); the Roman architect Vitruvius; the Fibonacci series; Descartes; and Corbusier.”

So, what do you think?

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Logos with Hidden Messages

While we’re on the subject of logos, here’s another article from Richworks about those cheeky semiotically infused logos. Clients always love these; besides making them look intellectually smart, it also means they are getting more bang for their buck.  And THAT they like!


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