Better budgets don’t make better ads

There is an advert that keep showing it’s ugly face, and after months of complaining to the better half, I’m now going to complain to you.

Above is something terrible—something that I would have cut straight away. Above is the advert that I see repeated over and over on British television; it’s an advert for Chanel with some strange downbeat cover of Grease.
I assume you will have seen it before, but it just bugs me so much, that I had to write about it.

Firstly, after looking for this advert on Youtube, I find it’s actually a ‘film’ of just over 3 minutes and this is a cut down version for standard TV advertising; this means I’ll be going a little easier on it and a little harder also.

This advert is straight up crap. Nobody ever knows what they are trying to sell you with perfume adverts; but this tops the list of unrelated shite. And as I said, it feels really disjointed because it’s been made from cuts of a longer sequence – but my god – if it’s good enough to be a ‘film’ then you could have at least tried to make it good or spell out any kind of narrative.
So we start with a woman in the water, trying to surf; with more arse shots than all the coverage of every surfing competition since time began. She’s flipping around in the waves, trying to get her balance in which to surf back to her beach side apartment; but there is a problem!

From her mad rocking wave, see can clearly see some suited man looking overly depressive at what I assume is her house, leaving her some kind of note. Now this would be really difficult to see if you were surfing because it takes a lot of concentration to hold on the wave with your balance—luckily for her, she’s very clearly not surfing and her gormless expression is easily seen past the terrible green screening and dry wet suit.

It’s really very obvious this woman has never surfed, but why on earth is the wet suit constantly open? I get sex sells, but that dumb ass face she’s pulling completely cancels that out.

Now the man is leaving; and she’s running up her beach towards a large fence blockade. But just as not knowing how to surf wasn’t a problem for this ‘surfer chick mom’, passing large fences as if they didn’t exist also applies to this strange person.

So after she’s surfed the biggest wave of the season, been dumped and levitated over a fence; her next miracle is to suddenly be wearing a full new outfit just as her daughter comes in to give her a hug, right next to the perfectly written dismissal letter.

Now she’s modelling or something, by some large number 5. I assume this is actually here job because it’s the only time she’s looking even mildly convincing as a character; and the little note that it’s telling me Gisele Bundchen is featured in the ad makes me think I’m supposed to know this model or face from somewhere.
Now she just randomly looks at the letter in different circumstances, drives over a bridge in what looks like a vintage Austin Healey and confront the same man who left her on the balcony of some swing club. Like star crossed lovers, they of course kiss and make up, with his bow-tie looking horrendously crap. All this happens, the advert ends and I’m sat there thinking—what the hell just happened? Who the hell is the target audience? Why the hell are there the same large scale, brightly lit number 5s in alley, just as there were in the photography studio.
All I can conclude is; the advert tells you that if you get left by your man, make sure to dwell on it and chase him to his beck and call. Because how else would you and your daughter survive in your Malibu beachfront property if you don’t have crappy bow-tie / light blue suit man.

Chanel, you have a massive budget; get yo’ shit together.

Stick your money where your XY chromosome is!

The gender divide in the design industry and why the money isn’t the main issue.

If you work in the creative industry or have ever heard of it, you’d know that we are mostly all ‘bloody lefties’ and would likely all vote for equal rights on any given chance; yet there is still a large gender divide in the industry, and it seems very bizarre to me. So, although I want to ask why, this is not what I’m going to do.

I’m not asking why, because as far as I can tell that’s done very little to change the problem, so I’m going to get mildly angry on an internet blog and tell you all what I think about it (obviously).
The problem that is the gender divideis most obvious in the industry when you look at pay, and although it’s the big pointing arrow to the divide—I don’t think it’s the main issue.

I am a male by definition, and that fact entitles me to more than it really should. Because I have a deformed chromosome and a penis between my legs; I am due to earn roughly 18% more than a female counterpart in the creative industry. And Christ, that is a large amount and would be the difference between paying rent and living comfortably in anyone’s pockets – so with the only real difference between us being the accolade of being able to piss standing up, it does not seem totally fair to me.
Now, although the pay gap is rather large and I certainly wouldn’t want to be paid less than anyone else – through my eyes it’s not the real problem here, it’s more the large blinking light; furiously flashing at the face of modern day sexism.
It’s not like the money wouldn’t help and I’m sitting on my high horse saying it’s not the problem when it’ll never effect me; but please hear me out. The problem lies in the sexism that surrounds this issue, rather than the pennies that are missing.
The difference in pay is because bosses and directors alike know they can they can do so, and why do they know they can, because they still have the belief that women are not equal to men.
If they were equal, they’d be paid the same, but in all those directors eyes all a creative woman is—is 18% percent less of a man, than a man.
The money isn’t an issue when you’ve got the fact that people are being seen less that other due to their gender. It’s not even like women haven’t achieved great things in design and their pay gap is represented in the ignorance of some peoples set in perceptions. Some of the biggest designers in the world are female, and punch way above the directors that are setting the unfair figures on the pay cheques. There are many influential females in the design world and I’d like to point out some to prove my point.
Firstly, in our current design sphere, we have Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh. Not only is she a partner in one of America’s infamous agencies, but she is also one of the most famous designers on social media with her bright palettes and lovely hand text. We also have Paula Scher, another hugely influential designer, who carves her path in the industry with the world-renowned agency Pentagram; of whom only employ the elite of the elite. So both these ladies are clearly not any less of designers than any man on this planet.

 Even though I’ve only named two designers, I think their stance alone should emphasise my point. These two women will likely achieve more than I ever will, and their influence will likely go on to inspire generations of designers that aren’t even born yet—but if I were in a similar position I’d still be worth 18% more than either of them. That is fucking bullshit.

The fact that women are paid less is not the issue, the issue is that they are paid less because they are seen as less. At the end of the day, gender is nothing more than a social construct, so it gives even less of reason to these differences in pay. Sort yourselves out design industry, I thought you were better than this.

Helvetica: clichéd and safe, like an annoying band-aid single.

I’ve previously tackled the world’s most hated font, so I thought I’d make the jump to the world’s favourite—Helvetica. It is beautiful, safe and a massive cliché.
Helvetica or “The ONLY Sans Serif” as it’s otherwise known was created by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, though Miedinger often gets most of the recognised credit. The font was originally created with the idea of competing with Frutiger’s powerhouse font Univers, which was released the year prior, making a serious storm to the font market.
And well, it has held the sans serif competition off rather well and likely made Linotype a bloody fortune–and that’s where the issue starts; it’s popularity. Helvetica is a pre-installed font on all Mac systems, it’s supported by every web browser and is even more popular than Comic Sans.
The bloody thing replicates more than a rabbit on Viagra in the middle of April.
The font itself is a master craft—it’s got a beautifully sharp look to it, it’s very legible, it’s a very modern font but most of all; it’s horrendously overused!
I mean, I do not blame you, it’s beautiful; I use it quite a lot as well, but it’s become somewhat of a cliché due to this popularity. The problem is that Helvetica is everywhere, and that’s why some designers are swaying away from it; earning it this status.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—you don’t understand typography if you allow your prejudice to prevent you from using the most suitable typeface for the job. But this doesn’t stop Helvetica from being seen this way, and it certainly doesn’t stop designers looking at it like I look at Marilyn Monroe Yes, that’s a lovely (type)face, but bloody hell stop thrusting it at my poor eyes!
Now, just like a Monroe portrait in a tacky boutique – you’ll see Helvetica plastered under every instance of #typography and in almost every portfolio. This isn’t really a bad thing, because it’s really a great font; but there is only so much wear you can get from Helvetica Bold and it’s not suitable for everything you’ve designed ever, in your entire life. It’s become a font less of beauty and more a font safety, a font of “well I can’t be arsed to think of something suitable so this’ll do” and that’s what’s most annoying me.
Helvetica (as great as it is) is almost completely responsible for the decline in typographic creativity, and the understanding of using typefaces – because anyone with a Macintosh operating system can easily throw it on an old crappy image of a forest with an instgram filter and a quote like “people breathe air – Marc Twain” and suddenly that’s typography.
Not only this; it works for people who actually understand design but just sit comfortably and lazily in modern trends and the warm glow of Helvetica’s womb – just passing it off like they made this font choice for legibility; but really they just couldn’t be bothered to find a font that would work better, so they booted up Photoshop, closed their eyes and slammed their head on the keyboard.
I am not saying Helvetica is a bad font – no, not at all. If I ever achieved anything near to the greatness of that font, well that’d be a bloody miracle. What I’m saying is, too much of anything get really rather dull; and until designers realise that other sans serifs exist, it’s just going to continue to bore me as it appears and reappears on every high street or professional portfolio.

I love you Helvetica, and I always will; but I think we should see different people.

If you hate Comic Sans, you are wrong.

I’m going to say it—if you hate Comic Sans, then you don’t really understand typography.

Comic Sans, hate it or hate it; you still know what it looks like, you’ve read it many times and mostly likely used it before. But why?

Well if you were born in the mid 90’s like myself, you’ll have used it without even thinking – you’ll of been on the Windows XP computer, applying it as a default to some strange abstract line art thing you created on MS Paint. And why did you do this? No-one bloody well knows, but you were a small child with access to hundreds of horrid RGB colours and about 3 fonts that didn’t look like a bank logo; you had only a few choices – Comic Sans & Arial and if you wanted to be a bit more historical, it’d be Papyrus. But I’m not going to try and even defend that thing, I don’t have the time or effort.

Comic Sans, or “Satan’s Hell Spawn Handwritting Fiery Super Horrible Death font” as it’s otherwise know was created by Vincent Connaré in 1994 for Microsoft and most likely the release of Windows 98. It was originally created for child friendly use on early windows operating systems; inspired by the lettering of Comic Books and the basic handwritting of small children, in an attempt to connect with that age group – of which it has connected with more children than anything else that I could think of.

It’s on the signs of Nursey Schools, it’s in every web browser and it’s in your mind. I know you can see it, “wow” written over a picture of a dog in luminous green; all the while hurting your eyes. I can see you picturing every terrible Christian comic spread you were ever handed with more Comic Sans in it than mentions of our lord and saviour.

But what if Comic Sans isn’t as terrible as you think? What if it’s just been used wrong and it’s really a typeface of genius? Or are you right, and it really is a steaming bag of dog excrement?
Either way, I don’t think it was created with any of this in mind, just the idea of making a font accessible for children wanting to use a computer. And you can’t hate anyone for that.

The font in question, in my personal view is actually quite a piece of brilliance. Yes it’s ugly but my god, everyone knows it, everyone loves to hate it and everyone was a child and at some point, and it looks bloody brilliant in your childish little eyes, gleaming away at all those pixels in front of you.
I believe Comic Sans is a brilliant font for many reasons and I’ll start with the most important—it’s friendly and children like it.

When you were a child, you didn’t care if that serif had a strong x-height and you didn’t care about all the ligatures that a modern serif could offer you; you wanted a font that’d  look great on the card you made for your mum, or on that powerpoint you made for your cat. It’s a friendly font, nobody has ever struggled to read it and if I were 6 years old again I’d be right back on my old grey computer making colourful pieces of crap laden with the thing.

Secondly, not only is it friendly and easy to read, but it’s also had loads of research into how it helps people read with Dyslexia. There are lots of fonts that do this too, so when you grow up you can branch out the Century Gothic or Verdana. But when you are a small confused person, not understanding why the words on the page make no sense – this frankenstien’s monster can be your saving grace.

And finally, don’t hate the typeface, hate the person that plastering it on political campaigns and corporate flyers.
You don’t really hate it as an entity, you just hate how inappropriate it looks on a huge billboard.
Yes it has horrible angles, bowels and x-height but would using Helvetica really be the right choice on a handbook designed for 2 year olds?

If you actually hate the typeface itself, you don’t know enough about Typography. Because I doubt there will ever be a typeface with more impact or usability than Comic Sans.
There are hundreds of typefaces similar to it, that may be better or worse, but it alone created a whole era of humanist typefaces, and inspired a young generation of computer users.

So, if you are really a good designer, you’ll use a font for it’s suitability and not your own personal opinion. I will certainly never advise the use of it for any design brief, but if you can’t see the genius behind the ugly mask, then you should stop pretending you are right.