20 July 2010

Two Major Offenders



I would love to work on these brands and their retail promotions. There is a difference between marketing and design. Huge difference. Not only do designers think differently about a problem but it is our job to inform and to delight. When they come together is seems like the perfect dance. Someone here was stepping on each others feet. And I think the designer walked away limping.

In researching Back to School promotions, I was moved to share with you these two offenders.  A client will come back with the most cliche of themes. AND yes this has happened to me as a designer. Back to School is a hard season to solve for. It is reaching out to the mass market. Moms and kids of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes.

The flood of rational questions begin to swirl in my mind:
Do we really have to communicate with expected knowns and noisy layouts for a season to be sucessful?

Why did these examples land on unimagined design?

How many times are we going to see a sloppy handwriting caring the weight of "Back to School" theme? Or apples with type on them?

Does any kid marvel at mediocre handwriting?  Are kids even writing as much as we use to in school? Do they still bring apples to school for teacher or even know of that reference?

Does this really appeal to Moms? Do they like to see apples and poor handwriting?

What happened to the delight?

Yes, it did inform me of the promotion. But where is the charm? Where is the craft? What happened to the design part of this problem.

Also, its July! What happened to summer? Do we really need to rush everything?

It would be a huge shift for retailers to embrace the "now" and not "what's next". I wonder if you could do both and still stay ahead of the competition. You might gain more brand champions for life by living their life cycle instead of always beating them to it. This isn't something any retailer is willing to do and there isn't enough research to support not starting promotions 3 months in advance. No one can win on that argument.

I recently went through 4 rounds of Back to School promotions. I gave them the works, the deluxe, the rational and still in the end I got a handwritten fax with a small sketch and a cliche theme. While this option will never see the light of day in my book, I have 3 other rounds that solved the problem in the sandbox they gave me to play in. And I learned how to sell my work to clients who may or may not be listening. No matter how hard you sell through what they need, sometimes they get what they want. These two examples seem to reflect just that.

Sidebar:
Maybe next year these clients could come to Periscope! This would be amazing! How much fun would it be to rock out some kick-butt retail and, in the end, increase their sales. Seriously, I dream about getting clients that need a change and are willing to take the steps to rock it out! They are great brands with longevity and who knows what the future will hold for them.

Last inquiry:
I wonder if they beat last years sales with these tactics.

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