There goes the neighborhood
Art is not for the timid. Neither is (re)branding. Both provoke intense reactions and when the brand in question is an iconic museum, everyone’s a critic.
The Metropolitan Museum has—for a variety of reasons (new leadership and an expanded footprint among them)—decided not to leave well enough alone but to reinvent its much beloved logo. Launched in 1971, it is itself a work of art, with graphic elements combined in a harmonious whole, hinting at the art and architectural treasures residing within. It was a distinctive and much-desired marque.
But time marches on and the Met’s new administration wanted something more modern, more encompassing, friendlier and accessible. And it chose Wolff Olins, the design firm behind the controversial London Olympics and Tate logos, to refresh the museum’s identity.
Like the philistine who says, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” I loathe the new logo. It looks like a car wreck and the introductory ad appearing in today’s New York Times is equally a mess. Pretentious, inelegant copy and a layout with all the visual appeal of a letterhead.
Wolff Olins surely knows better than anyone the worth of a brand like the Metropolitan Museum—the values it embodies, the stories it tells and the promise it makes to its patrons. This rebrand upends all of that. It is a sacrilege and a slap to the face of a great institution (and the people who love it).
Don’t mess with The Met.
I’m a news junkie and a doctor wannabee, so between those two passions, I end up paying attention to a lot of pharma commercials targeted to, well, the older and less well among us. Usually I lose interest after the first few seconds because once the “creative” part of the messaging is done, there’s a dystopian list of contra-indications and side effects so scary it makes me want to swear off prescription meds for good.
“Ask my doctor”? I think not.
Pradaxa, an anti-coagulant, takes a different path. Yes, those disclaimers are still there, but they’re organically integrated into the visual storytelling. More importantly, as entrancing little red goldfish (blood cells) cavort through the arteries, the spot educates patients about their condition in a non-threatening way and shows how the drug works and why.
For their creativity and nuance, the drug company and its agency deserve our heartfelt gratitude.
There are commercials that pique your interest and others that just piss you off. To start off the new year in an appropriately picky frame of mind, here’s an example of each.
Schwab “Own your tomorrow.” On the theory that even high-net-worth individuals don’t know everything there is to know about making (and keeping) money, Charles Schwab presents its wealth management advisory services with subtle but telling family dynamics that would make Shakespeare proud. Each spot in the campaign is a jewel, well cast and beautifully produced with dialogue and subtext that make you wince (in a good way).
Speaking of cringe-worthy, Geico’s usually high-spirited creativity falls flat for me with this aw-w-w-w-w-k-ward class reunion scenario featuring Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and classmates who clearly haven’t aged well. I get the saving money part but there is something so grating about the performances, excellent though they are, that watch them, it’s not what I do.