Monthly Archives: April 2014

Advertising mixup: Santa, meet CONAD!

On December 24, 1955, Sears ran an ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper which included a special phone number children could call to talk to Santa. Unfortunately, the phone number was misprinted; it turned out to be the number for the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). Despite this inauspicous beginning, volunteers working with CONAD started… Read more »

Hidden in plain sight

I’ve always enjoyed the smiling Amazon logo but didn’t realize I was missing out on a more subtle message it contains as well. What I hadn’t noticed was that the smile is also an arrow. An arrow that points from a to z, referring to Amazon’s amazing breadth as a retailer. Many logos contain somewhat… Read more »

Can you hear color?

What if you heard a piano concerto whenever you saw the color pink? Or tasted blueberries when you saw the numeral 7? How about describing the smell of a hyacinth as a series of  concentric circles? Believe it or not, some of us do just that. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon that combines two (or… Read more »

When the message is hard to hear

Sometimes we need to communicate a message about a very serious subject and yet engage readers with an image that is pleasant and inviting. Dining Out for Life is an annual fund-raising event. The image for this campaign manages to deliver two seemingly unrelated topics: you can treat yourself to a dinner out knowing that… Read more »

Cherchez la femme

The Starbucks siren/mermaid (see previous post) is not the only company figurehead who had to clean up her image. In a logo designed to promote tourism, Marianne  (France’s female counterpart to America’s Uncle Sam) was depicted along with the slogan “Rendez-vous en France”. All good. Then it was pointed out that Marianne was a little… Read more »

Horror vacui

According to Werner Muensterberger, the author of “Collecting: An Unruly Passion”, horror vacui is “fear of empty space”. His book is a wonderful look at why we collect things and how no matter how much we have, why we still think we need more. There is a tendency for beginning designers to want to fill… Read more »

Copywriting: it pays to be careful!

In advertising, accuracy is everything. As we’ve all learned the hard way, just one tiny slip-up can change a friendly message into something we never intended to say. In a hasty letter to his boss (a diminutive man of great charm and eloquence), Martin Sorrel of J Walter Thompson meant to sign off with “See… Read more »

Too much of a good thing?

We all love having options, but did you you know that having too many choices can actually have a negative effect on sales? A classic example of this is a study conducted by Columbia University which offered customers a choice of strawberry jams. In one test, the customers had 6 jams to choose from and… Read more »

A genius by any standard

A good rule of thumb for creative advertising is, if you feel like you’ve seen it before, don’t do it! To stand out, it’s got to be original (in a good way). It would be hard to imagine someone creating something more original than Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Theodore Geisel actually developed his distinctive… Read more »

Typography talks!

You may have heard about the teenager who proposed a way for the federal government to save millions of dollars a year (in ink) by simply changing the typefaces it uses for printing. But were you aware that selecting the right typeface can also increase readership? If you’ve ever found it difficult to read through… Read more »