Archive for the ‘Junk Mail Theater’ Category

Welcome, welcome, for another edition of ‘Junk Mail Theater’!  You can’t imagine the unbridled joy I had when I looked at the pile of mail and saw this:




And had one of those ‘What the hell?’ moments.  Does anyone not get the image here?  Dogs pee on fire hydrants; we’ve all seen the cartoons.  Incidentally, I’ve been around dogs my entire life.  My friends, family, myself – we’ve all owned dogs.  Not once have I seen – or heard of – one peeing on a fire hydrant.  But I mean, that’s the same thing as a dog eating homework; it’s just an accepted cliche.

Regardless, the dog pees on a fire hydrant, and that’s something that can be considered ‘good together’?  Really?  I mean, on the one hand, it made me open the thing and see what the next bit would be, but they could’ve accomplished that with plunging cleavage leading toward the fold.  But on the other hand….it pees on the hydrant.  How is that a good thing?  Regardless, with the image of a dog next to a fire hydrant and the obvious comparison coming down the bend, I opened it up.  Seriously, where the hell are they going to take this?




Okay.  Is the implication here that Reality Savings pees on Reality Checking?  And in addition to that, it’s even better than the unbridled glee I feel when I imagine Fido with his leg propped relieving himself on a hydrant?   Is it supposed to be some vague irony?  But that’s just the idea, and even if it falls flat, it’s not entirely the job of the designer to make it work.  Even though you can make some even better comparisons; peanut butter and jelly – coffee and donuts – Laurel and Hardy – and on and on.  But I think my favorite part is using the comparison in the last line of the first block of copy – ‘Check out how you and *this bank* are great for each other’.  So it’s official.  The bank pees on you.  Fetishists, unite!  Bank in our golden showers of great rates and refundable ATM fees!  Free checks with furries in the background!

Anyway.  Back to the design; and I can tell this is the same guy who did the last one.  I kind of want to meet him, and break his hands so he can’t do this.  See, my problem with shit like this is not so much that it encroaches on my territory, it’s that it brings the average median of design down.  Because this exists, all of design is a little worse off for it.  We need to cull the herd, and for once, it seems the market isn’t fast enough.

For one, Helvetica.  I use it because I design primarily for news, and that’s what my client’s competition uses, so that must be what my clients have to use.  Nevermind that sometimes I’m the one who designed the competition’s package, but not much I can really do about that.  Helvetica is tired, it’s old, and it’s entirely overused.  Go with Futura or something.  A nice, clean, balanced san serif font; it’d be fun.  And yes, I realize that because Helvetica (and Helvetica Neue) have something on the order of 5,000 different styles in the family, it makes design incredibly easy.

As for the bullet points, it seems that this guy likes to define importance by adding more and more simple text effects to the copy.  Regular font – explaining the listed item.  Bold  and Bullet Point – item being listed.  Bold, Underline, and Colon – title grouping the items to be listed.  I’m surprised that the big font on the front isn’t bolded, underlined, italicized, drop shadowed, given a rainbow overlay, glowing, and has a strike-through.  Oh, and maybe an arrow with text that says “This is really important.”  But in a non-ironic way.  Photoshop has many filters and effects, and can do many, many things.  This does not mean you need to do all of them at once.

Dog’s back.  I have no idea why, I could assume it’s a speech bubble and the dog talks.  Or maybe the ‘switch kit’ comes with a terrier.  Or a coupon for the local Korean restaurant.

A few things: the ‘Do More with…’ and ‘Get More with’ can be punched up a bit more.  Those are two good lines to draw together and make the centralized anchor in the design.  And you can do that without adding 8,345 filters and effects to the text.  And once again we have drop shadow on a white background…..just….no.  It even makes the text harder to read.

The one thing I don’t get is this – ‘Do U R2’?  Is that the branding?  If that’s the case, why is it pushed to the bottom right and nearly forgotten?  How come that’s the first time we see it?  And why the lame serif font?  Why not dress it up a bit and make it more of a branding image?  Is that because it would then be good?  I mean, branding images with company and product mottos have obviously never really worked – ‘Have it your way’, ‘I’m lovin’ it’, ‘The ultimate driving machine’.  The guy is on the cutting edge of design 150 years ago.

But, I want to leave with my favorite part.  In the first block of copy, there’s a line that goes, “These two accounts separately are awesome, and combined create the most powerful combination in personal banking.”  Okay, that’s a bit much.  Granted, after seeing the info on the checking account’s overdraft policy I was nursing a semi, but it’s nothing to dry hump my ledger about.  As I’m reading that, I’m picturing the commercial with re-edited clips of Captain Planet combining the powers of Checking, Savings, CD’s, Equity Loans, and Heart to save the world in the most douche-bag hippy way.

That line does give the image that the tellers at this bank probably would beat up the tellers at my bank, but that’s probably because my bank is filled with really fat old women in their 50’s who probably have dentists for husbands and took the job to get out of the house.  Because you can only spend so much time staring at the dust gathering on the exercise furniture you bought off of the television before you need to find something else to do.  And that something else is obviously sitting 8 hours a day and making me wait 25 minutes while you add.


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So when I get junk mail, I don’t like to throw it away.  Every pamphlet, letter, brochure, etc – I like to take apart and look at.  I couldn’t care less about the message, but some designer made this, and it bears even a small moment of my day to at least look and appreciate it.

I’m not alone in this.  My Uncle is an old-school graphic designer (can even make fonts by hand – how novel!) and he shares this quirk with me.  One thing we are always going on about is package design.  And I mean – we are going on about it.  I bought Wall-E, and when I was amazed at the ingenious design and assembly of it’s case, I brought it over and promptly showed him.  We both marvel over Apple’s product design team, and Adobe’s (the new stuff? fantastic).

Needless to say, when you aquire a….taste? of what ‘good’ can be, and you are in the profession of doing it yourself – well, it’s a rare treat when something comes along that is abysmal.  It’s like the sharpness of a good Scottish Whiskey, or the gentle bite of a great Jambalaya.  It’s the sting that makes everything else so much better.

So without further ado, I bring you the first in, what I sincerely hope is many, Junk Mail Theater!


This one comes from a local bank offering ‘Reality Checking’.  Here’s the front page:


And here’s the back:



So, first off, I love that the front page of this thing has all the subtly of a sledgehammer.  It reminds me of icanhascheezburger – where the internet is serious business.  And let’s examine the chroma-yellow.  I really wish the scanner nailed what will probably cause epilepsy in certain people, but alas, it managed to de-saturate that somewhat.  Yes, what you are seeing is it toned down.  It’s like hearing that Richard Simmons has been on downers all this time.

And the general concept?  I don’t get it.  Is it supposed to be a comic book?  And how does the product they are selling; ‘Reality Checking’ relate to animals?  And whoever wrote this copy is a genius, because they followed up ‘Stop chasing your tail’ with ‘Finally get tired of chasing your tail’?  Meanwhile, that cat is going to murder that dog.

Another thing, I would like every crap designer out there to realize something; just because you have a CD full of fonts, does not mean you need to use every single one.  You’d assume the guy thought each one he used would make his dick bigger.  I mean, we have Helvetica (the most overused of all fonts) – and not just one in the family, but I count 3 different weights, and the creme-de-la-creme of shit design; Comic Sans.  But it gets even better, he manages to switch font families mid-paragraph!  Mid-paragraph!  That is just dedication to avoiding the easy route; zeroxing a small pile of dog shit and mailing it out to me.

I want to explain something to you.  If there is a god, and I like to think there isn’t – but assuming there is, the only way I would define that god as a just god in this world of torment, hate, violence, natural disasters, and death is this: The only way for god to be a good and just one is to take out the eyes of every designer that uses Comic Sans with a rusty screwdriver.  They deserve it.  Using Comic Sans is design abortion.

And rock star, I would like to remind you with that brilliant choice of Blazing Suns Yellow, you don’t need a drop shadow to make it stand out against white.  If you need a drop shadow to make your font color stand out against white, you need to pick a different fucking color.

I love the stock bullet points, by the way.  There are a million ways to dress it up, and he goes with bullet points – that aren’t even really needed.  You have a bold compressed font marking each bullet, you could have indented that second extended light font and saved my eyes the visual rape that they were hit with.

But the thing that gets me the most – and I mean aside from the color, concept, font, layout, lack of creativity, and just general overall design – the one thing that I don’t get?  Second page, bottom right.  Why is there a mouse on it?  First, you’re talking about dogs, then you’ve connected them to checking with that great segway (Top dog. How clever.), but now you have a small mouse giving the legal.  I kinda see the purpose; small mouse, small voice, small type….but why is he in black and white?  10 seconds on istockphoto.com will give you a whole slew of mice.  In fantastic color!

So that’s today.  I honestly hope it isn’t the last.

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