Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kraft Corporate Is All Smiles

If Pepsi's new logos weren't smiling enough for you, Kraft Foods corporate has decided to make their logo 'happier' too. Luckily this is only on corporate materials since I don't think the new design is nearly as powerful as the old one.
The older logo has a very distinctive shape we all associate with Kraft Foods. When people see a design they tend to remember shape first, followed be color and then content. It's part of why people recall the Nike Swoosh, Apple's Apple and specific brand colors like Tiffany's robin's egg blue so easily. You'd be amazed at how easily you can recall some brands just based off a part of their logo in black and white or a color swatch of their specific brand color. This logo seems to have forgotten all that. Granted the rectangle diamond-ish shape of the old logo isn't as powerful as the Nike Swoosh, it's easily recognizable. The new smiley thing? Not so much. Not to mention the dimple/starburst at the end made out of all different shapes and colors. You could argue that this is a corporate logo, so quick consumer recognition is not as important, but that just brings up another issue with the new logo—it's childish. Really. Look at it. It looks like a logo for some sort of children's company. I get that Kraft makes many family friendly products, but for your corporate logo? It doesn't seem to fit.I don't mind the Kraft Foods font, and I agree with Brand New's remark that the lowercase k is actually quite pretty, but what was the designer thinking with that tagline font? Is that an Italic Comic Sans? Just the thought makes me shudder. Comic Sans is a font that should drop off the face of the earth, never to return. Ever.

At least Kraft didn't roll this out past usage as a corporate logo, but I'm still not a fan. What do you think?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chili Cook-Off!

A few weeks ago, some creatives were discussing their varying chili recipes and an idea was born. Why not have an agency chili cook-off and have a chance to taste everyone's different creations? So today 8 very different chilis made their way into the office in bid for a Chili's gift card grand prize. We had chicken chili, veggie-heavy chili, chili with noodles, thin chili, thick chili and even a chili with beer. After the rest of the agency spent lunch tasting and comparing the chili varieties they voted on their favorites.

And the winner? The delicious White Chicken Chili brought in by our receptionist Gail. Congrats Gail!

Bringing Back The Orange

That's right. Tropicana announced today that after complaints from consumers they will be reverting to their old packaging starting next month. We blogged about the change a couple of weeks ago and according to the New York Times article about the switch back Neil Campbell, president at Tropicana North America in Chicago, stated “We underestimated the deep emotional bond” they had with the original packaging. The article also quotes Campbell as saying that it wasn't the volume of people, but the fact that the complaints came from some of their most loyal customers.

The reaction from Peter Arnell, of Arnell Group, who designed the packaging, however, is priceless:
“I’m incredibly surprised by the reaction,” he added, referring to the complaints about his agency’s design work, but “I’m glad Tropicana is getting this kind of attention.”
Umm, that's only a good thing if you run under the assumption that any attention is good attention. This isn't good attention, it's a PR mess. The NYT article actually compares PepsiCo's error on the Tropicana packaging to Coke's 'New Coke' fiasco from 1985.

At any rate, I'm just happy the good old orange and straw will be back on grocery store shelves soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Axe Uses Dirty Pig to Clean Dirty Hair

Axe, in selling body products for men, has always used a wet 'n wild approach to cleaning up "dirty" boys. Their latest attempt sets a pig free in a crowded mall in search of hair that needs washing.

They've also set up a "Hair Crisis Relief" Web site that aims to help guys get "girl approved hair." Anyone want to tell them they missed the hyphen in girl-approved? There's not much content on the site--it's mostly three or four repeated blog-type entries.

What do you think? Personally, I kinda like my man disheveled. Oh, and their latest spots don't impress me much, either.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is That Really The Pepsi Logo Design Brief?

So remember when Pepsi came out with its new logos a few months ago? The varying 'smiles' of the Pepsi logo? Well, it appears that the Design Brief was leaked—a lovely 27 page document title Breathtaking. It does take your breath away too. I found myself gasping for air from laughing so hard while reading it. Honestly, at first glance the document seems so completely out there I was sure it was a hoax. An elaborate hoax, but still a hoax. Then I started digging a little deeper.

Oddly, no other blogs really seemed to think it was a hoax. Some of their commenters did, but overall the authors were all on board that this was a legit document leaked from Arnell Group, the agency behind the brand redesign and Tropicana's recent package design flop. I was still finding this a little hard to believe, but one blog directed me to AdGabber's post back in October when Pepsi unveiled its new logos.

In a brilliant move to debut their new line of logos, Pepsi sent 25 top bloggers a kit filled with a evolution of Pepsi logos and packaging, a DVD of Pepsi's history highlights and a set of new packaging with the new logos—everything these bloggers needed to announce Pepsi's new logos to the social media world. It really was a great move. In the DVD video contents from those original kits is a short video, posted on AdGabber and I've included it below as well. It shows an animation of the design process to make those weird 'smiley' logos. Check it out and pay attention about 45 seconds in (the music shifts there too). Then look at the selected Design Brief page to the right (click to enlarge). Uh oh, looks like this document might be legit after all.

You can see more excerpts at Gawker and Brand New or you can download the whole PDF at Fast Company. I'd recommend it, it's a good laugh.

Yes, I thought this was a hoax at first, but when you look closer there are a few legit parts in this overall relatively absurd document. They discuss Pepsi's logo and bottle evolution and there's a lot of talk of about the Golden Ratio, in fact they dedicated an page illustrating how the Pepsi logo smiles are same aesthetic geometry. I have to disagree since the end result smiles look more arbitrary than anything else, but the defense is there. It may be a bit pretentious and overstated, but we are talking about a huge brand here and no one pours millions into a brand without some justification as to what makes it great. Many large corporate logos, or even small business logos, have a lot more precision and thought behind them than the average person realizes—it's not intended to be elitest at all as much as it's just part of the design process of pushing to make just the right mark. The issue I have with the Pepsi brief is you can justify whatever you want with circle proportions, but that doesn't automatically make it good. Yes, the old Pepsi logo is balanced and aesthetically pleasing—the new ones, not as much, no matter how many circles within circles you draw for me.

The Golden Ratio stuff isn't what got me the most though. What really had me convinced it was a hoax at first was a little further on in the document where they start discussing the Pepsi Globe, where they compare the Pepsi logo's energy fields to the Earth's magnetic fields, and the Gravitational Pull of Pepsi diagrams, where they compare the gravitational pull of the sun to the gravitational pull of Pepsi. It's a little unclear what they're trying to represent there, but after looking at it for awhile I'm hoping it's referring to some kind of three dimensional in-store display and not that Pepsi is the center of the universe.

After looking through everything and writing this post, I'm pretty convinced it's a valid document, though probably incomplete. It is marked as a draft on the first page of the PDF. Unfortunately, valid or not, this is a PR nightmare for Pepsi and Arnell with all the negative criticism that's floating around about it.

What do you think? Real or hoax? Is the Design Brief too condescending?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tropicana Abandons Iconic Image

Everyone knows the Tropicana image of the orange with a straw sticking out of it—it's been around forever. I remember as a kid actually trying to stick a straw in an orange and drink orange juice out of it. Seriously. However, on Tropicana's new redesigned orange juice packaging, they've completely scrapped that image! And I really don't understand why. That image has a lot of brand equity. Honestly, if you ask me about orange juices, the orange and straw is the first thing that pops into my head, followed inevitably by the the thought of Tropicana.

Unfortunately it seems Tropicana has scrapped it for what many designers are assessing as rather generic packaging—and I have to agree with them. It's nice generic packaging—it reminds me a bit of the simple and clean designs of Target owned brands—but it's still generic. Notice the new logo as well—also a sad generic version of the old one. Not much more than the word Tropicana set in Futura, dropping any tropic feel that the name or product might suggest for a colder, stoic brand personality.
Tropicana's new redesign isn't just their orange juice packaging, it's all of their juices. The overall effect is cohesive, if repetitive. Unfortunately in this particular case, the cohesive sameness of all of them makes me rely more on finding the text on the carton to get me the specific juice I want rather than a much easier visual cue. According to BrandWeek, Peter Arnell, head of the Arnell Group, the agency that redesigned all this, said:
""It's like having a glass come to your table. It's very elegant. We no longer wanted to work with assets or parts that were not clear to the consumer. They might have identified with the orange and the straw on the old packaging but no one new why it was there."
What? Isn't it there because we identify with it? Because it very elegantly and visually says 100% orange juice straight from the orange without actually having to say those words? Who exactly doesn't know why it's there? In BrandWeek's post Arnell also said:
"No one would ever write an article about Tropicana. Then you get rid of the orange and the straw and the whole world pays attention."
Yes the world paid attention, because the straw and orange is part of the brand. And a good part—people miss it. Update it, tweak it, rejuvenate it, but don't scrap it. I will admit, however, that I am a fan of the new caps. They are very clever, though not enough to make this package redesign a winner

Last year, Pepsi moved Tropicana from Element 79 to Arnell, and I can't say I'm impressed. Arnell is also the agency that brought us Pepsi's brand redesign a few months ago.

(Also see our follow up post: Tropicana's Sales Drop With Redesign?)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Zappos Spot: Tweet Your Approval

The CEO of Zappos wants to know what people think of their new TV spot:

New Zappos TV commercial - What do you think? How would you rate it on a
scale of 1-10? - http://bit.ly/ztvad

Tweet your thoughts (@Zappos on Twitter) and let us know, too!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sprite Goes Old With New Logo

Via Brand New, my favorite source for the latest logo redesigns, Sprite is the latest in the soft drink industry to revamp their logo. I'm pretty much always against starbursts, but I agree with Brand New's assessment of the interaction of the letters with the lemon-lime illustration and the starburst offers an opportune way to split the lemon-lime. I still don't particularly like it, but a little further research showed that starburst actually appears to be a kind of retro update.

Check out that old startburst! Overall, I don't mind the new one, though if they were going to go the retro route, I wish they would have taken it a step further so the new logo had a retro feel beyond the starburst. The starburst element alone doesn't feel retro without the comparison and I would love to see them resurrect some of that funky old type.

What do you think?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Were The Super Bowl Ads Super?

I've heard people go both ways on this year's lot of Super Bowl ads. Personally, I think many of them were trying too hard, and which of the 'trying to be funny' ads were actually funny seems to vary person to person. There were a few, however, that seemed to stand out a cut above the rest of the rest and a few that fell flat no matter who was viewing them.

The Winners
I'm usually a sucker for funny spots, but this year Coke's charming Heist spot took the cake. It was wonderfully executed with great art direction who's Peter and the Wolf soundtrack charmed me on the spot.

My next two favorites were the Alec Baldwin Huluwood and Pedigree's Crazy Pets, even though the latter probably falls into the 'trying too hard' category.

Other favorites included the USA Characters spot, and while it's over a year old, I still love GE's Capture the Wind Ecomagination spot.

The Losers
There are always a few spots that make you cringe (or yawn). MacGruber is by far the most cringe-worthy in my book. When I saw the first few seconds I was actually excited for a McGyver spoof, but it was so inconceivably bad, I can't imagine anyone out there actually liking this spot. Seriously.

GoDaddy.com went their typical route with big breasted women, which makes it the most yawn-worthy. Okay, their spots may have been amusing the first year, clever when they couldn't get their spot aired the next, but now it's just boring. We've seen the same ad over and over again—get a new concept already, I'm bored.

Finally, Bud's Clydesdale spots were cute but only okay, while their Drinkability spots just make me want to drink anything but a Bud Light. Probably not the reaction they're going for. This is more of a beef with the whole Drinkability campaign than their Super Bowl spot, but really? Are you trying to promote that your product tastes more like water than beer?

What do you think? Are there some favorites out there that I missed?