News

Filter by 

OPINION

THe BRAND THAT WOULD NOT DIE

THe BRAND THAT WOULD NOT DIE

October 22, 2020

Left, Bauhaus Dessau, by Walter Gropius1926. Right, EU headquarters, Brussels, Samyn and Partners, 2016 As an institution, it was officially shut down by the Nazis in 1933, after only 14 short years. But as the mythical heart of modernism, the Bau ...

+ Read More

The Last Agency Standing

The Last Agency Standing

September 24, 2020

In my Linkedin feed, I recently saw a post from Andy Main, Global CEO of WPP agency Ogilvy. The post shared imagery from Ogilvy’s latest campaign for Greenpeace, #cleanairnow. It is stunningly well crafted, visually arresting and disarmingly clear ...

+ Read More

The Conscious Creative

The Conscious Creative

August 28, 2020

Design firms and ad agencies have, with very few exceptions, historically cleaved to what Bruce Mau once called a ‘karaoke existence, always singing someone else’s song, and never saying what (they) think should be said.”  It’s a model of m ...

+ Read More

For the Good of All

For the Good of All

July 21, 2020

The Coronavirus has certainly knocked industry off its feet. Once fluid revenue streams have slowed to a trickle. Businesses struggle with how to reopen. And wherever they have, we’re seeing a vigorous resurgence of cases. This is going to be a ve ...

+ Read More

Black Lives and White Lies

Black Lives and White Lies

June 18, 2020

CREDIT: Banksy I had a difficult conversation the other day with a hardcore American alt-right winger. He is a former high school classmate who has reappeared in my life as the result of a gathering of our class in preparation for our high school’ ...

+ Read More

COVID 19: A Crucible of Creativity

COVID 19: A Crucible of Creativity

April 16, 2020

Lead image:  The Other Guys   There’s a scene in the 1984 film Starman in which an alien visitor, played by Jeff Bridges, makes an uplifting observation about humans: “You are at your best when things are at their worst.” Human history has ...

+ Read More

Trump’s Very Own Personal Shepard Fairey

Trump’s Very Own Personal Shepard Fairey

April 2, 2020

Hard to have missed being exposed to the imagery of American artist Shepard Fairey in the last 12 years. Famous for the ‘HOPE’ poster designed to support Barack Obama during the 2008 US presidential election, Fairey has since taken on the role o ...

+ Read More

Don't Kick the Can

Don't Kick the Can

March 11, 2020

As a metaphor, the tin can has always had negative connotations. In your grandparents' day, it was something they kicked around in the street in lieu of a soccer ball. Kick the can they called it. When your parents were kids, they would take two can ...

+ Read More

From Bauhaus to My House

From Bauhaus to My House

January 6, 2020

Now that 2020's here, let's talk about  2019’s most interesting, if not most well known, centenary: that of the founding of The Bauhaus, mother of all design schools.  I live in a neighbourhood that was built in the late 1920s. The houses were ...

+ Read More

Zuckerberg’s New Clothes

Zuckerberg’s New Clothes

November 12, 2019

It’s been over a week since facebook CMO Antonio Lucio posted an announcement entitled ‘Introducing Our New Company Brand”. I have to admit when I read that headline about 1.5% of me thought maybe the brand team was actually grappling with som ...

+ Read More

Will Novosedlik on Clearing a Path to the Future

Will Novosedlik on Clearing a Path to the Future

September 28, 2019

Standing on the subway platform the other day, I came across this creative for an organization  called Pathways to Education:                 Immediately struck by the logic of the message – linking lifelong poverty and burden ...

+ Read More

Starbucks: Breaking Brand Promise, One Store at a Time

Starbucks: Breaking Brand Promise, One Store at a Time

August 21, 2019

Back in 1997, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz wrote about his now-iconic brand, “The people who line up for Starbucks aren’t just there for the coffee. It’s the romance of the coffee experience, the feeling of warmth and community people get i ...

+ Read More

Will Novosedlik on Building the Biggest Bible since Gutenberg

Will Novosedlik on Building the Biggest Bible since Gutenberg

July 25, 2019

I once had a colleague who joked about how graphic designers were “on a mission from God” to save the world from bad design. Aside from the Blues Brothers reference, it was a sarcastic reflection on the heroic narrative in which the designer is ...

+ Read More

What are niche chocolate brands are doing differently?

What are niche chocolate brands are doing differently?

July 3, 2019

protecting the workers and protecting the earth. I’ve recently become addicted to chocolate. I blame it entirely on work. I always liked chocolate but never made a habit of eating it. It was never on my shopping list. But since taking on some bra ...

+ Read More

Eyes on Eye on Design, by  Will Novosedlik

Eyes on Eye on Design, by Will Novosedlik

May 16, 2019

A new publication from America’s most prestigious design organization both hits and misses the mark. For whatever reasons, publications aimed at the graphic design community are still a lot more interested in what’s fashionable than in what’s ...

+ Read More

Field Trip & Co. Tells an East Side Story

Field Trip & Co. Tells an East Side Story

April 17, 2019

When it comes to hospital fundraising, the competition for eyeballs and wallets can be fierce and the market fragmented. There’s no particular reason to elevate the reputation of any hospital above that of its peers, especially in a market like To ...

+ Read More

When Private Equity Meets Brand Equity

When Private Equity Meets Brand Equity

April 3, 2019

Or what happens when what can’t be measured doesn’t get managed OR what can’t be measured isn’t accounted for? “Tomayo!” cried my wife. “That’s what they should have called it. Not “Mayochup”. My wife is a speech and language pa ...

+ Read More

The storyfire: Learning to Listen

The storyfire: Learning to Listen

February 14, 2019

Photo by Wenni Zhou for Unsplash What indigenous culture can teach us about storytelling As the editor of a national magazine, you get a lot of article pitches. Most of them are easily dismissed. Some of them are out-and-out PR. I never print that ...

+ Read More

Truth vs. Soap

Truth vs. Soap

November 7, 2018

  Every once in a rare while you hear a brand story that is actually based on an empirical truth which, when carefully told, turns out to be far more effective than any of the fantasies conjured up by ad people to sell you whatever it is they are s ...

+ Read More

FIFA: From Fabergé to Football

FIFA: From Fabergé to Football

July 9, 2018

The FIFA World Cup's graphic title cards on TSN are as rich in execution as they are in symbolism     Ah, the World Cup. Like the Olympics, this quadrennial sports fest does its best to command or attention for the few weeks that it takes the ...

+ Read More

Living the Dreamscape

Living the Dreamscape

June 5, 2018

When graphic design meets fine art   Larry Rossignol, The Struggle Continues   While attending an event at the venerable Toronto jazz haunt Hugh’s Room last week, I found myself enchanted by a body of work hung on the walls there as part of ...

+ Read More

Future by Design AI, Type and Inclusivity

Future by Design AI, Type and Inclusivity

May 23, 2018

Panelists discuss inclusivity, communication and how designers should respond to “evil robots” at RGD’s latest Future By Design discussion THIS SECTION SPONSORED BY      On April 24, RGD invited creative industry leaders Lara McCormick, ...

+ Read More

Advertising the Bad News

Advertising the Bad News

May 8, 2018

The Centre for the Study of Political Graphics stages a show of posters designed solely by women   Barbara Kruger, 1989   Focused on the collection, preservation and study of political posters, The Center for the Study of Political Graphics i ...

+ Read More

It Takes All Types

It Takes All Types

April 4, 2018

In praise of the erudite typographer     For whatever it’s worth, I’ve taken the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—better known as the standard IQ test—twice in my life, at a 20-year interval. Both times, the score was the same and was ...

+ Read More

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Happiness is a Warm Gun

March 5, 2018

How the U.S. gun industry uses tired tropes to brand itself       There is an old frontier saying in America: “God created men. But Colt made them equal.” And if that sounds like a tagline, that’s because with the possible exception of ...

+ Read More

In Praise of Older Women

In Praise of Older Women

February 6, 2018

Armed with a solid niche strategy and well-crafted design, small companies like Ralston Williams can flourish in the marketplace   Photo by Chris Chapman   There is something very satisfying when great design meets a great brand. Especially w ...

+ Read More

Beyond the Brief

Beyond the Brief

January 30, 2018

Giving a client what they need should be as much a priority as giving them what they want   When I was in school more than a decade ago (where does the time go?), I had an epiphany. I'd been given a poster assignment and a “client” brief, so I ...

+ Read More

Branding Abuse

Branding Abuse

January 8, 2018

The powerful branding behind movements like #TimesUp benefit the "plural sector"     Watching Elisabeth Moss accept the Golden Globe last night for her lead role in The Handmaid’s Tale, you sensed the feeling of a grassroots movement catchin ...

+ Read More

Create What Matters

Create What Matters

September 11, 2017

Forget demography and embrace ethnography   If you work in strategy in advertising today, chances are, like mine, your family has a hard time explaining what you do for a living. That got me thinking, why is it so hard? Part of it is that the ...

+ Read More

Getting Real with Images

Getting Real with Images

May 31, 2016

How to shoot the new "authentic"   Let’s face it, the word “authenticity” has lost all meaning. More accurately it's become offensive, instilling laughter from audiences by the sheer mention of the word with the mockery ...

+ Read More

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Redesign It

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Redesign It

May 17, 2016

Sometimes, the only thing that needs fixing is the brief   In the pre-Internet days of advertising, there was a lament voiced whenever a client asked for a new campaign to replace one that was only a few months old: The client got tired of the ...

+ Read More

Makers of Things Aren't Always Makers of Sense

Makers of Things Aren't Always Makers of Sense

April 20, 2016

Just because they can doesn’t mean they should   I’ve just learned that LinkedIn has 749 members who describe themselves with the title Maker of Things. A review of these members suggests that the only things some of these folks ma ...

+ Read More

Another Bad Week for Women in Advertising

Another Bad Week for Women in Advertising

March 22, 2016

Our industry could have learned a lot from the Neil French debacle. It chose not to   As recently as 1970, female musicians made up less than 5 per cent of the top five orchestras in the United States. By 1980, that figure had crept up to the ...

+ Read More

Liking Isn't Buying

Liking Isn't Buying

November 16, 2015

Technology is a powerful force in marketing. Just look how it's blinded us to reality   It's been a busy few weeks for people who question the wisdom of putting technology in charge of marketing. First, the great Dave Trott took on the ambitious t ...

+ Read More

The 21st Century Belongs to PR

The 21st Century Belongs to PR

August 17, 2015

PR firms aren't just eating advertising's lunch. They're already looking forward to dinner Just last week, it was announced that Andrew Simon was leaving his role as chief creative officer at Cundari to join Edelman Canada as its executive creative ...

+ Read More

Writers Needed

Writers Needed

July 21, 2015

Advertising has never been more in need of good writing. Why aren't more of us doing it?   Another edition of Cannes has come and gone and, whatever its faults, it does continue to serve as a bellwether of advertising and its priorities. Consider, ...

+ Read More

On the Genius of Wrongheadedness

On the Genius of Wrongheadedness

June 15, 2015

Counterintuitive thinking has built and rescued countless brands. How come we don't do more of it?   Probably the single most famous story in advertising lore concerns the late-1970s pitch for British Rail by the now-defunct London agency Allen Br ...

+ Read More

The Problem With the $50 Logo

The Problem With the $50 Logo

June 8, 2015

The Internet and its proliferation of cheap brand executions may have changed the business of graphic design, but ultimately, you get what you pay for   My face went pale with fear and I didn’t know what to say. I was staring at Tailorbrands.com ...

+ Read More

Shooting Blanks

Shooting Blanks

January 20, 2015

Taking its eye off the brand made Target’s failure in Canada inevitable   It’s been less than a week since Target announced that it’s quitting Canada and taking a $7 billion loss in what CNBC’s Jim Cramer called “ ...

+ Read More

If Users Aren't Happy, Nobody's Happy

If Users Aren't Happy, Nobody's Happy

November 19, 2014

People online want usability more than anything else. Why can’t they count on getting it?   In light of all we know about best practices in digital, it’s surprising that we still need to talk about what those best practices are. In ...

+ Read More

On the Mainstreaming of Scam

On the Mainstreaming of Scam

October 20, 2014

The old rules no longer apply, which would explain why advertising is ignoring them If you’re an ambitious advertising person, there’s a good chance you owe a vote of thanks to the late Grace Hopper.  Grace Hopper was a pioneering computer s ...

+ Read More

Of Brand Cowards and Missed Opportunities

Of Brand Cowards and Missed Opportunities

September 2, 2014

When the City of Toronto and Publicis recently pulled their effective anti-littering ads, they allowed brand owners to take control of the conversation     Last week we noticed that the City of Toronto, in response to the negative reactions o ...

+ Read More

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

July 30, 2014

Has the web created irresponsible logo design?   To say the Internet has profoundly impacted the modern graphic design industry is an understatement. No other force has so radically changed what we do and how we do it — except perhaps t ...

+ Read More

On Advertising's Self Esteem Issues

On Advertising's Self Esteem Issues

July 21, 2014

Last week, I got an interesting flyer from Bed Bath & Beyond.     The flyer is devoted to helping university students outfit their dorm rooms for the coming school year. As such, most of its audience is too young to recognize the source fo ...

+ Read More