I ran after this truck to get this photo. Am I alone in thinking this is tremendously clever?


Chock Full o’ Nuts Coffee? Earlier examples of brand creep here and here.

C Concourse, Newark Liberty International Airport.


A fan proclaiming allegiance to Apalachicola, FL. When I saw this fan over the summer, I thought its conflation of “fanatic” and “cooling device” was outrageously clever. (I still think so.) But given time to reflect, I’m struck by how catchy this word/image combination is, even though it is not at all specific to Apalachicola. Imagine, for example: I’m a fan of Paris. Of Cincinnati. Of Bellingham. And while the cadence of “I’m a fan of Apalachicola” makes the name stick more readily than other place names, the form of this advertisement is wholly independent of its content.


The form of the memorial license plate is equally independent of content, but the designations we stick on geographic places are—by their very nature—specific. Only Apalachicola can be the Oyster Capital of the World; to replace ‘Apalachicola’ with Paris/Cincinnati/Gorst would be to lie. Content can be as powerful as form, but without form is more forgettable—I remember the fan, but not the oysters. I’d like to see Apalachicola’s destination branding combine the two by plopping down a giant oyster at the corner of 9th and Market Street.

This combination of the form and content of a local icon is, I gather, the driving force behind such projects as Pigs on Parade and the Baltimore Crabs. The inspiration for these projects, the Cow Parade of Chicago, is, oddly enough, diluting itself through offers of syndication and franchising. Want cows in your city? Sure, why not! Location branding should be the ultimate in location-aware content, not a stale repetition of something Chicago did better nearly 10 years ago.

Comcast trucks, Yale University

Comcast vans parked on High Street earlier this week.

The ubiquity of the Ford Econoline.

Sorry for the weird truck/van kick. There’ll be a post on snow over the weekend.


At BNP Paribas, an animated ATM within your ATM. Not so different from the incorrigibly peppy first-person of Washington Mutual ATMs. (“Hi! How should we talk today? English? Español?”) As graphics technology evolves, the more complicated the story that may be told. Remember those ugly yellow-on-black UNIX-terminal style ATMs? Or the ones with the most basic graphics and a perpetual bank-logo burn-in?

Abstraction, caricature, anthropomorphization, all in support of a financial transaction. Do these serve to more effectively replace a human teller or to augment an electronic transaction?


Domino’s Pizza in Paris. Another layered, Pico Iyer-esque moment: Italian food, American interpretation, French audience. (Note also the Coke machine lurking in the back of the restaurant.) Somehow, this Domino’s has managed to skirt French laws requiring advertisements to be presented in French—if you squint, you can see that they’re still billing themselves as “The Pizza Delivery Experts.” (This claim dubiously, if ingeniously, avoids any sort of claim on the quality of the pizza itself.)


A herd in support of pizza-delivery. These scooters have identical end-goals to their cousin, the American automobile; the surmountability culturally-based differences in transportation and delivery.


“WANTED” brand tortilla products at Le Grand Epicerie De Paris, a high-end grocery store connected to a department store, Le Bon Marché.


How do we define ourselves abroad? Are these chips and tortillas American because they tilt at Old-West stereotypes? Because they’re in English? Because tortilla chips are un-French?


The layers of filtration: Mexican food, packaged as American, advertised using American stereotypes of Mexicans, to be sold to a French/European audience. 


Pico Iyer would have a field day.


A quick break from the Paris posts (which are nearing their end—back to the Northeast soon, I promise) to consider a remarkable in-the-wild case of pithy helvetica, that oh-so-popular graphic design format privileging appearance over content. posts a free, custom-designed logo every day, available for unrestricted use. The various elements of each logo are only strange lorem-ipsum style placeholders; the logos can be edited to suit their final users. But before the logos are edited, they are exemplars of pithy helvetica: They “read” as a logo, even though their constituent parts are meaningless

[via Lifehacker]


The lines and forms we don’t see, the subtle coming-together-ness that happens just at the edge of our vision, just at the fringes of conscious reality.



How long does it take for us to realize that there is no message here? A different kind of urban reprieve; this posting demands no response. Garbage in, garbage out.

Next Page »