Monthly Archives: May 2017

Type With Pride

Gilbert Baker was the creator of the iconic Rainbow Flag (1978) and an LGBTQ activist and artist. On 31st March 2017 Baker passed away, leaving a legacy of one of the most iconic and globally recognisable flags.

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To honour him, NewFest and NYC Pride collaborated with ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and typeface creator Fontself to create an open-source font called “Gilbert”.

The Gilbert font was originally designed for striking headlines and statements that could live on banners for rallies and protests and it is now currently being built out into a whole family of weights and styles. The font is available in two versions, a standard vector font and a colour font (in OpenType-SVG format) currently usable in Photoshop CC 2017 only. Both are early beta previews that you can download below for free, and you can follow @TypeWithPride on Instagram and on our development blog for news about new font weights, styles and creative contests.

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You can see more examples of the font on posters here. Whilst I love the sentiment, and the context behind the idea, I can’t say I love the font itself. Personally, I think it works best as either singular letters or very short phrases/words (which is perfect for ‘LGBTQ’). However, with long quotes such as the one on my header image above, it just doesn’t work for me. What do you think of the font?

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Meet Julia: Sesame Street’s First Autistic Character

Sesame Street is incredibly nostalgic for me – I used to watch it every lunch time with my mother whilst eating shepherds pie after a morning at pre-school. Random. Anyway, Sesame Street is a truly iconic American show that seems as immortal and recognisable as The Simpsons. The difference between this and other kids shows is that Sesame Street was created (in 1969) as an experiment with the intention of finding out whether television could be used to educate young children. We now know how influential both TV shows and adverts can be on children. Since, they’ve written story lines ranging from basic learning skills to race issues and even coping with death.
On April 10th, “Sesame Street” aired the special episode “Meet Julia” on HBO to introduce viewers to their newest character. Julia was created as part of the ‘Sesame Workshop’ (the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street), alongside their autism initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’For years, Sesame Street received requests from parents to feature storylines surrounding autism, so Stacey Gordon (plays ‘Julia’, below) and Christine Ferraro (the writer of the “Meet Julia” episode) who both have close family relationships helped bring this character to life. Stacey was uniquely placed to take on the job as her son has autism: “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviours through something they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.”

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A common concern amongst parents of autistic children is how their peers will understand, communicate with them and treat them. As autism has such a broad spectrum, the team wanted to ensure that Julia was represented based on extensive research into common traits of kids with learning difficulties.

Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centrepiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism. The response from the autism community to See Amazing in all Children has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder – Sherrie Westin, EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop

Although the team were cautious regarding the representation of such a broad learning difficulty in just one character, writer Christine wants Julia to exist as herself, rather than be known as “the autistic one”. Aside from this, the main aim is to teach viewers about inclusion, understanding and patience. I don’t know if it’s the childhood personal tie I have with Sesame Street, but watching the intro video above actually made me quite emotional – the way in which Julia is represented is so endearing and gentle, with Big Bird patiently trying to understand all the facts about her learning difficulty. Scenes include Julia meeting new people, the relation between autism and eye contact, common physical reactions like “flapping”, becoming overwhelmed when she hears sirens and the heartwarming scene where they all join in on Julia’s version of ‘tag’.

The most important part of this well-written storyline is how they have steered away from Julia’s differences being the source of confusion or fear, and instead created the narrative to focus on the rest of the muppets enjoying their relationships and having fun. Whilst parts of Julia’s behaviour were clearly explained to Big Bird and the viewers, the main focus was on integrating Julia into the group, like all the other muppets. My heart has melted!
It just goes to show that whilst TV can be a very scary place for easily influenced children, creatives and marketers can use their platform to educate in a way that has never been done before.

 

P.S. take a look at the comments on the YouTube video – lots of users have praised the creation of Julia as something they wish they could have seen on TV as children.
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Aardman | Morph: emoji stickers for iMessage

Aardman’s ‘Morph’ is a serious trip down memory lane for me – a real childhood favourite on SMart, and an immortal TV icon. Animation studio Aardman have previously released ‘Face Bomb’ stickers for iMessage to celebrate 40 years of animation history in 2016:

Now, they have released ‘eMorphjis’ for iMessage as animated stickers that can be sent as emojis or incorporated into photos:

The Face Bomb sticker pack looks like it works better as face filters on photos, rather than emojis. What makes Morph so perfect for this social campaign is his recognisable face and adorable emotive expressions. Also, Morph as a character is a universal face that on TV often replied to presenter Tony Hart in gobbledygook, but with meaningful gestures that could be understood by all ages and languages.
Morph co-creator Peter Lord made each of the emojis from modelling clay before graphics and animations were added:

When someone said to me; ‘We could do Morph emojis’ it was like this huge lightbulb going on. Of course. That’s just perfect! Morph has a lovely round face and he does great expressions; he really is like a living emoji. Who wouldn’t want Morph’s happy (and sometimes grumpy) face all over their messages? Bless him. So I jumped on the idea, and I’m so happy with the way they’ve worked out, they’re really funny and charming.

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Lysol: Protect Like a Mother

Mother’s Day in the US is imminent, so ad agency McCann (New York) and cleaning products company Lysol teamed up for the campaign “What It Takes To Protect”. Lysol is probably the US equivalent to the UK’s cleaning brand ‘Dettol’, and instead of marketing their anti-bacterial products like most competitors do, globally, they adopted a more emotional and sensitive take on protecting against germs.
The adorable narrative celebrates the protective strength of parents, with Lysol there to help them, focusing on the universal human instinct to keep your loved ones safe. Using metaphors for protection against germs, we see animal mothers protecting their human children against rain, bullies and accidents.

The campaign expands beyond TV and digital, as Lysol will host an experience in Brooklyn Bridge Park called “Protect like a mother: an exhibit presented by Lysol” over the US Mothers Day weekend (14th May). It aims to highlight the most fierce protectors in the animal kingdom: mothers, and will include large scale animal installations that children can interact with.

I think it’s a fantastic concept! So much more effective and memorable than the cringey cleaning ads we’re used to.

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I’m sorry, I fell for it too: Heineken fooled me. I now regret writing the “Pepsi, this is how it’s done” post

Last week I blogged about Heineken’s new ad ‘Worlds Apart’Pepsi, this is how it’s done. Heineken: Worlds Apart | #OpenYourWorld. At the time, I thought I was giving a fairly neutral opinion whilst swaying towards positive connotations towards the ad – I even suggested, like many others, that it was the antidote to Pepsi’s car-crash ad.
I want to sincerely apologise for my ignorance. As someone who is so outspoken against the immoral bullsh*t we all have to endure in this post-Trump hellhole, I have failed both you and me. In hindsight, and after reading more articles, I realised that I had fallen for the worst kind of marketing tactic. I’m embarrassed that someone who both works in advertising and is a human rights activist was able to have the wool pulled over my eyes – ethical consumption simply cannot exist in a marketed, profit-based environment no matter how many frills are added.

Aside from the blatant social change push as a tactic to sell beer, just like the Pepsi advert it is a reductive narrative that absolutely does not represent the way in which opposing opinions are resolved in real life. Furthermore, the narrative suggests that the opinions of the couples are on the same level, whereas misogyny, transphobia and climate change denial are entirely of a regressive ideology. I now see that these opinions placed alongside a progressive and moral ideology totally diminish the science and facts behind these important views. What our society struggles to understand is that there is a difference between having an opinion and believing something that is entirely morally wrong – denying climate change is wrong because climate change is real. What damages our society is the notion that social problems can be resolved if only people tolerate their oppression just a bit longer. That ideology is fundamentally everything I am against and the catalyst to my passionate drive for equality, yet I foolishly supported this tragic advert.

This ad doesn’t exist to solve the world’s problems, but to make you buy a product by causing you to associate whatever warm fuzzies it elicits in you with its particular brand of carbonated yeast water. Have you learned nothing from Mad Men? That this ad was deemed “good” by most people just means it does a better job than other ads of hiding that fact. – The Guardian

I also questioned my naivety surrounding the morality of Heineken regarding what they have done as a brand to support the social issues focused on in ‘Worlds Apart’ – do they support LGBT charities, climate change research or womens’ rights organisations? As someone who dedicates a lot of time deciding whether or not to spend my hard earned money on certain brands (particularly regarding animal cruelty and brands who fund that in China), I am disappointed in myself for not recognising that “Heineken is an amoral entity that treats human beings as expendable assets who exist purely to have their labor power exploited for the purposes of enriching its shareholders” (The Guardian). If I discovered that politically and socially, Heineken invested in, say, supporting the trans* community, I wouldn’t write this article. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, and thes people who feature as progressive and outspoken are merely used as puppets.

What gets me more than anything, and what makes me feel ashamed for believing this sh*t is the fact that the people being attacked did not retaliate. At no point did those offended confront the ignorant person, despite claiming to be outspoken and sure of their moral place in this world. Whenever I feel offended or concerned about someone’s moral compass, I do not hesitate – I refuse to tolerate their ignorance – I cannot validate a point of view that ignores fact.
I cannot believe for a moment that the Black woman wearing a t-shirt saying “Smash the Patriarchy” would sit in silence whilst listening to a white, cis man project his degenerative views. Finding common-ground is of course not out of the question, but to insinuate that bigotry can be laughed off with a beer and a splash of tolerance sums up exactly what is wrong with humanity. The irony here is that Heineken used social problems that has largely eschewed capitalism to structure an advert.

Originally, I admittedly found it bizarre and almost insulting that the denial of a scientific fact was placed amongst transphobia and sexism. Now, I find it even more infuriating that this advert essentially promotes misandry as just a point of view that can be ignored. Being offended by feminism and trans* people is impossible – what is the alternative opinion to being transgender? There isn’t one. Heineken have essentially given a bigot a platform to say “hey, I don’t like this but I’ll use the correct pronouns because you don’t have a deep voice and I can’t see your five o’clock shadow, so you’re pretty passable, and that makes me feel more comfortable”.
The facts are here: climate change is real, women are paid less and trans* murders are an epidemic. There is no opinion here. There is no opposing view.

Yes, the people with the regressive ideas are humans, and they should be treated as such. They should not, however, be given an equal platform upon which to spew their ignorance. The false equivalency itself is whitewashing. (Caitlin Bladt)

If you don’t respect Nazis, you shouldn’t respect people who fundamentally believe someone’s identity and personhood is wrong. They are the same ideologies, but for some reason we seem to brush that under the carpet. And a beer certainly will not change that.

Once more, I’m sorry, and I do not support the Heineken advert.

P.S. Please also note that all the “right wing” opinions are from white, cis men. Just saying.
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