design notes

I just stumbled on a great article in Creative Review about how the campaign for the film Trainspotting came about. Fifteen years on (15!) and I think the design (by British studio Stylorouge) really holds up. I remember thinking then it had the coolest look imaginable, especially for a movie: spare-- almost clinical -- and modernist but edgy too. It was Euro-looking, modulated. Then there were those portraits. They reminded me of Avedon and fashion shoots: think CK One and that era's bete noir, 'heroin chic'.

Coincidentally, a couple weeks ago I saw this Balmain ad and thought it seemed rather indebted to Trainspotting...//

Speaking of ads, the ones I've been seeing lately in Vogue and Vanity Fair seem to represent a new low in quality: Ludicrous ill-conceived shadows Photoshopped to indicate gigantic watermelon breasts where there are clearly none; long swaths of rubbery-looking undifferentiated "flesh"; generally cheap-looking rinky dink production values, and many that are just very down market. What the hell is going on? How has all this money and technical wizardry gone so wrong? What about the ad sales people at these magazines— do they take anything that will drop a couple coins in their cup? Have they no editorial pride at all?

I'd been pondering all this when I came across this 4-page campaign (I have omitted the double page spread that appeared with these shots) in Vanity Fair. This, the creme de la creme of marketing effluence, of creative putrefaction, just might be the single most offensive ad I have seen in quite a long time. Let me tell you how offensive I find this ad for Neuro flavored water:
it offends my aesthetic sensibilities:
Into this most garish toilet-bowl-cleaner blue "water" has been thrown a headless torso with its breasts sheared off. This is overlaid with a logo incorporating a 1970s clip art diagram of "brain waves." Along the bottom are plastic bottles that appear to dispense body wash, or judging from the nether regions featured so prominently in the photos, perhaps feminine hygiene lotion.

it offends my sense of logic:
The name Neuro, a woman's ass, garish bottles and the tag line "It's all about You". What is about me? Is this something I wash my privates with? Why is this woman proffering her ass crack like a baboon in heat? I dont understand. (I do, in fact, know that this ad is for a drink. It just looks a hell of a lot like some sort of anal lavage)

it offends my peace of mind:
Lots of money has been tossed around here! Four ad pages in Vanity Fair for the type of product that will host launch parties in Vegas or Miami with one of the lesser Kardashians. Really? Then there were the art directors and production people and photographers who got paid cash money for creating this. Dont forget the manufacturing plants in China churning out cargo loads of these heinous colored plastic bottles all the while leeching toxic petrochemicals into streams—they get paid for this!

Most disturbing of all, why should I ever, ever have to read the "flavor" neuro-gasm?


equilibrist said...

yechh, what a gross ad. I find the shearing off of the breasts particularly disturbing. Why?

And unfortunately I have seen Neuro at my local Key Foods. It's actually water, or some sort of sports (brain?) drink.

A bird in the hand said...

gross, insulting, nasty, ugly. If this is what they have to do to sell their products, then the product must be awful.

angela said...

thanks for agreeing! I wrote to Vanity Fair to say it looked like they were really scraping the barrel for money to feature this.

Doug Clouse said...

... a cretinous golem of marketing clich├ęs. Ugh.


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