an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Posts Tagged ‘poster’

Movie Monday: Eat Pray Love

Posted by Rosepixie on June 7, 2010

This is a poster for the upcoming movie version of Eat Pray Love.

I stared that this poster for a long time before deciding to talk about it here.  The thing is, this poster bugs me.  A lot.  And it took me a while to figure out exactly why.

It’s the nun.  I don’t think that the nun belongs in this poster.  In fact, I think she’s there deliberately and it bugs me even more now that I realize she’s the problem here.  The thing about Eat Pray Love is that it’s a memoir very specifically divided into three sections: eat, pray and love.  Each one follows the author’s journey to a different country and focuses very much on a different thing.  “Eat” focuses on her travels to Italy and, obviously, is in large part focused on her explorations of different dishes and foods.  “Pray” focuses on her travels to India and her spiritual quest there, which is not (obviously, since it’s in Italy and not the Vatican City) centered around Catholicism.  “Love” takes place in Indonesia and tells about her taking a lover there.

I’m pretty sure the nun is in this poster so that Julia Roberts eating gelato isn’t just representing the “eat” portion of the story, but that the poster can also evoke the “pray” part.  The problem is that it’s deceptive and makes me suspicious of the movie’s adaption of the book.  It’s deceptive because it suggests that “pray” has something to do with the Christian religion, which it doesn’t really.  It makes me suspicious because I have to wonder if Hollywood changed the story so that it does.

This may all sound like nitpicking, but in a country full of people who assume that the world is Christian and nothing that isn’t Christian is religious this kind of message is powerful.  Even subtle messages matter (hopefully if you’ve been reading this blog for a while that isn’t a new idea), and subtle message that I got from this poster was a continued marginalization of anything that wasn’t Christian.  There are so many ways they could have evoked Italy and food without Christian imagery and ways they could evoke India and her spiritual journey as well, but this is what they chose?  I just find it frustrating and disappointing.  We can do better and we should expect better.


Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: World’s Fairs in the 1930s

Posted by Rosepixie on May 28, 2010

World’s Fairs used to be a big deal.  They were the place to go to see the latest and greatest inventions, discoveries, art, music and more.  They were huge undertakings that drew enormous crowds.  Even though they generally existed in their own mini-villages of fantastic buildings, they tended to be hosted by major cities who used the worlds fairs to draw tourism to the rest of their attractions as well.  Today I have two posters advertising two different world’s fairs only a few years apart.

The Chicago World’s Fair – 1934

The New York World’s Fair – 1939

What struck me most about these posters was how very different they are.  Each represents something about the flavor and attitude of the host city.

The Chicago poster is bright and busy and the first thing I thought of when I looked at it was music – the visual cues suggest music in a variety of ways (lines on sheet music, radio microphones, etc.).  Music is such a cornerstone of the Chicago cultural identity that this makes sense.  The poster even has “hear” listed as something you can do when you visit the fair.

The New York poster is simpler, but evokes the iconic Lady Liberty, who is one of New York City’s most famous attractions.  It also gives the impression that New York is a city of the world, with the globe and people moving across the surface of that image to the fair and towards where New York is located.  This idea is one that is pretty central to New York thinking (even if the rest of the world doesn’t always agree with it).

I like both of these posters, even though neither tells you what’s actually at a world’s fair.  They’re colorful and eye-catching and both carry a lot of the flavor of the place where the attraction is located, which is a big plus for travel ads.

Posted in Travel, Vintage | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Movie Monday: Splice

Posted by Rosepixie on May 24, 2010

This is a poster for the upcoming movie Splice.

I honestly wouldn’t have batted an eye at this poster if it weren’t for the fact that I just recently saw the preview for the same movie.  The preview was pretty unremarkable (generic technology/science-turned-monster movie trailer), but it did seem to go to remarkable lengths to not really show us the clone creature herself, as if seeing what she looked like was one of the reasons to see the movie.

But apparently it isn’t, since here she is on the poster.  And there’s a foreign poster (German, I think, but I’m not positive of that) that just has a full-length shot of her naked.

So all I can think here is that either the department making the trailer and the department making the posters aren’t communicating (which is a giant marketing failure, since a coherent campaign is generally a good thing) or the fact that you don’t get to see her in the trailer was more by accident than anything.  And when your movie focuses on a unique creature, you’d better be sure to pay attention to how and when the creature is revealed in your marketing, since it’s going to make a difference.

As it is, I think they are both fine (if unremarkable) pieces of movie marketing.  They just don’t work together at all.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Banned Books Week: Be Your Own Robot

Posted by Rosepixie on May 22, 2010

The American Library Association creates promotional materials for the various campaigns that libraries across the country run and one of the big ones is Banned Books Week.  It happens every year and is designed to promote awareness of the issue and encourage people to read banned books and fight against censorship.  Each year the campaign has a theme that carries through the promotional materials.  This is the poster for the most recent one.

The text reads:

Think for yourself and let others do the same.

Banned Books Week

I love this poster.  It features three robots who are of essentially identical design, but the one in the middle has removed the plug from his head and has a different eye color and a smile instead of a serious frown.  He’s reading a book.  The other two stand at attention, but the reader looks casual and comfortable, enjoying his book.  I have to wonder what he’s reading (my first inclination is that it’s something like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but that seems too obvious).

Besides being cute, this poster does a good job of conveying the position of the library’s campaign through an image.  They worry that the people trying to deny access for everyone to anything they see as objectionable are doing so because they want everyone to think and act the same way – to be identical, programmed robots who never question or think outside the box.  This is a simplification, of course, but it does get to the root of the issue.

I think this is actually one of the most effective posters for Banned Books Week I’ve seen.  It’s image is clear, the message is uncomplicated and easily understood.  It’s also one of the riskiest, one of the most daring.  It directly shows what opponents of censorship fear the ultimate goal for censors is, and that’s a more political and almost belligerent things to do than simply list books that have been banned or encourage people to read them.  It’s more interesting, engaging and effective than many of their previous campaigns, despite its simplicity.  And that may be why it’s my favorite of the ones I’ve seen.

Posted in Advocacy | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Movie Monday: Date Night

Posted by Rosepixie on May 10, 2010

These are two posters for the recent movie Date Night.

I think that these are fundamentally both pretty boring posters that don’t actually tell us much about the movie, despite the tattered clothing, but as a pair I find them extremely interesting.

Steve Carell looks essentially the same to me in both posters – same size, same amount of tatteredness (the tatterdness just varies a bit in the details between the two images).  Tina Fey, however, appears vastly differently in the two different posters.  She’s dramatically less tattered in the second poster (although she looks rather less tattered than Carell in both and somehow appears perfect despite the obvious trauma her dress and hair have recently suffered).

Interestingly, Fey is also considerably thinner in the first poster!  Her dress appears to fall to just below her knees in both (and appears to be the same dress), but the dress in the first poster has very different proportions than the dress in the second poster.  It appears that the photo that was used for the first poster was stretched considerably (which is actually fairly common practice in celebrity photos).  She has more cleavage in the first poster as well (perhaps they drew it in – another surprisingly common practice).

But why did they stretch the photo so much for the first poster and not for the second?  As far as I can tell, the top poster came out before the bottom one did and I have seen no evidence of outrage or anything about the stretching (I actually probably wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for the side-by-side comparison and I doubt many other people would have either).  I actually think she looks better in the second photo, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with the stretching or not.  I just think that the dress looks better on her in the second photo and that there’s something funny about her left arm in the first one that isn’t a problem in the second.

As an ad for the movie I think this is pretty weak – it shows little beyond two actors standing there and an incredibly generic title.  I’m assuming that this is a comedy based on the actors portrayed and the distressed clothing, which is unusual for a date, but other than that, I know basically nothing about the movie after looking at these posters.  And from just that, I really don’t have enough to pay for tickets to see it.  The two do make for an interesting side-by-side, though, and I wish I knew what the thinking behind their creations was.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Movie Monday: TiMER

Posted by Rosepixie on April 26, 2010

This is a poster that I came across recently for a movie I had not previously heard of called TiMER.

I found this an incredibly intriguing poster.  It’s simple, but a few details stand out.  The white dress and the phrase “the one” suggest this is a romantic comedy.  Interestingly, however, the guy is conspicuously not in the picture!  His hand is, but he isn’t.  This suggests that his identity is unknown.  Why?

The other detail that really stands out is on the woman’s wrist – the wrist holding the disembodied male hand.  It sort of looks like a watch, but if you look closely, it’s actually part of her or embedded into her skin, not something she’s wearing.  That really got me intrigued, since an embedded electronic device places this pretty squarely in the science fiction camp, which rarely mixes with the romantic comedy crowd due to the long-held and somewhat ridiculous idea that the two genres are incompatible (and that they are gendered oppositely, which is also pretty ridiculous, since genres don’t have genders).

So I’m hooked just from looking at a poster that is fundamentally little more than a woman with no background or context around her, just a red outline around the outside.  That’s great design work.  Whoever designed this poster did an amazing job.  This poster managed to take a movie I had never heard of and make it one I really want to see within a matter of maybe five minutes, just from having a few well placed details!

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Movie Monday: Kick Ass

Posted by Rosepixie on April 12, 2010

For the most part, I find that most movies have pretty boring posters.  You’d think that there would be a million ways to create a movie poster, but either there aren’t or the people who design them just aren’t that creative most of the time because they tend to end up being pretty predictable.  Each style of movie has a pretty predicable style of poster and nearly all movies of that style that come out these days have posters in that style (i.e. romantic comedy – a poster showing the male and female leads in a charming pairing where they appear to hate each other, action – the male lead posing in an action pose while the female lead, villain and sidekick or other important non-male-lead characters pose behind him and things around him blow up/fall apart/generally look dangerous and exciting).

Sometimes, however, I come across interesting and creative movie posters.  The kinds of posters that get me excited because the graphic designers did something fun and different.  It’s actually possible for a creative poster to make me want to see a movie that I otherwise had absolutely no interest in, if for no other reason than to support the creation of more creative posters.

Kick Ass is a movie that falls into this category.  It holds very little appeal for me as a movie (the humor just doesn’t really appeal to me, and the humor seems to be it’s major selling point).  And then I found these posters and now I want to see the movie just because they are awesome.

I love these posters! They are such fun reinterpretations of familiar vintage propaganda posters. If I saw movie posters do this all the time it would get really old really fast, but I haven’t really seen any official posters like this before (unofficial fan ones, sure, but those tend to be far more interesting anyway), so it’s fresh and interesting. This has the added benefit of making me wonder if the particular posters chosen for each character have any meaning or if they were purely chosen for being famous, which gives me a reason to want to see the movie.

This is a great set of posters.  I really wish that I saw more movie posters that broke the pattern like this!

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Brothers Bar: No Music School

Posted by Rosepixie on April 8, 2010

In Madison, WI the Brothers Bar is on land that is going to be used for a new University of Wisconsin Music School.  There are legal reasons the university can take the land, but it’s all a legal mess I haven’t taken that much time to sort out.  Anyway, the bar, which is part of a national chain and thus not even a local institution or anything, is losing it’s location.  There isn’t any reason they couldn’t buy a new location and reopen a few yards away, but that particular lot is being used for the new music school which the University has been trying to create for quite some time.

Brothers Bar, however, thinks this is incredibly unfair and put up this (overly large and thus illegal) sign to protest the school.  [Thank you to my friends in Madison for taking this picture!]

It really does hang down over basically one whole side of the building.  What I found especially odd about this poster was not it’s existence or the fact that the bar clearly believes that not only should the music school not be where it currently stands, but shouldn’t exist at all, which is more than a little childish and stubborn (wouldn’t it have seemed more reasonable to say “ok, we love the idea of you building a music school because it’s totally needed, but we love our space, so could we work with you to find another location for it?”).

No, what seems odd to me is that they chose to put a target on the side of their building.  Presumably the building will be knocked down and replaced with something more appropriate for a music school (something with specially designed acoustics and many sound-proofed practice rooms, ideally).  So, in theory, the target makes sense from the point of view of wanting to destroy the building.  And perhaps it’s there to remind people of the immediacy of the issue and the realness of the building going away.  But mostly it just looks like they painted a target on their own building.

That and the fact that their customer base is largely made up of students, many of whom play music and might actually want a music school, especially since it isn’t replacing any of the other departments, makes this poster seem very ill-considered.  I think there could have been some good ways for them to protest this decision, and even some ways to get their customer base involved, which would have been great since their student customers are involved in both sides of the argument, but I really don’t think this poster was the way to do it.  This makes them look like whiny, petulant children, which can’t be helpful in their cause.  I have to hope that they have better tactics than this.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Vintage Friday: Fight Fat with Tapeworms!

Posted by Rosepixie on April 2, 2010

This is a poster for fat-banishing tapeworms.  I don’t have a date on it, but from the style and art I’d guess it’s from early in the 1900s.  If anyone has a date, I’ll be happy to update this post with it!

The text reads:

No Danger

No diet – No baths – No exercise!

FAT – the Enemy that is shortening your life – Banished!

How?  With sanitized tape worms!  Jar packed.

“Friends for a fair form”

Easy to swallow!  No ill effects!

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  It’s the miracle solution for weight-loss!  Except that it involves swallowing tapeworms.  Yeah.  Tapeworms.  So it’s actually keeping you thin by… well… doing pretty horrible things to you, actually.

Of course, these are sanitized tapeworms, so maybe they’re ok.  Who knows?  Clearly someone thought it was a good idea.  And that woman is very pretty.  Still, I’m not sure I’d want to swallow tapeworms to look like her.  Would you?

Posted in Beauty, Vintage | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Movie Monday: Our Family Wedding

Posted by Rosepixie on March 29, 2010

This is a poster for the new movie Our Family Wedding.

What I find most interesting about this poster is that it seems to stress the interracial aspect of the pairing with the black and white vertical division between the groom’s side and bride’s side (although, the couple isn’t a black/white couple, it is a black/latina couple).  I haven’t been able to find out exactly how important that element is in the movie, but it doesn’t actually sound like that’s the focus.  It sounds like the movie is more about the couple’s parents taking over their wedding (which, in true movie fashion, needs to be thrown together in just a few weeks for some reason).  Obviously, they do deal with the race issue and talk about cultural traditions, but it doesn’t seem to be in a “we don’t marry their kind” sort of way, it seems to be more a “I don’t know their traditions” kind of way (and the fathers have a history before they even know their kids are acquainted, much less getting married).

The arrangement of the people is interesting.  The couple is looking happily at each other while their fathers look over them and seem to be “discussing” something strenuously.  This seems to convey more of a feeling of their fathers disapproving of the match, which doesn’t sound like it’s what the movie is about, than of their fathers taking over the wedding.  It does, however, go with the interracial-marriage-being-an-issue idea.

I don’t think that I like this poster.  It’s a well designed poster and is visually a great piece of graphic design, but I don’t think it works for this movie (unless the internet is very much lying to me about what this movie is about).  I don’t know.  Does anyone else have any thoughts about this poster?

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »