Jun 5, 2007

Marketing: Serial Design Killers

'Body Odor Card'

I was stoked a company hired me to create a set of '24' gross-out theme trading cards for kids. Such topics as Poop, Toe Jam, Ear Wax, Rotten Fish, Rotten Eggs, Body Odor etc. If that wasn't fun enough these cards would be scratch-n-sniff too! I grew up on Wacky Packs and loved the gross themes but being able to actually smell them is just icing on the cake for a kid.

'Toe Jam Card'

Over about a two week period I worked on the whole set and the scratch-n-sniff logo that would appear on the card as well. I finished off all the art and sent it off to the client to review and they loved the art. I had already thoroughly tested it on my own two daughters, their friends and a bunch of neighborhood kids as well and all of them laughed at the art and made faces saying "Yuuuuck!" but when I told them it would also be scratch-n-sniff they would smile and get excited. Like I said it was icing on the cake, a sure thing if you will right? Well, maybe not.

'Rotten Fish Card'

I had done everything an artist in my position could. Quoted the job, won the project, signed the paper work, ran sketches of my art by them for initial approval, got green lighted to produce the final artwork and invested a lot of time dialing in each card so a kid would enjoy the art and find it humorous. I delivered the final art for review, I expected to hear back regarding any art changes needed, I'd modify what was asked for and then send off the final production files ready for pre-press.

'Ear Wax Card'

Well that isn't the feedback I get. Instead I hear "Everything is being put on hold while marketing evaluates the market place."

What?! They approve a budget, green light the art and yet they say now after the fact they are not sure if there is a market place for it?

It's really simple folks, Kids like gross stuff, they think poop is funny, they like talking about farts, they find it fascinating when something smells bad or causes them to make faces because it's so disgusting, hence the market place you knobs.

'Poop Card'

Another thing pointed out was "There is some discussion being had on the poop and the dog. They are debating if the drawing really needs to show the dog in progress of pooping or not." What the? It's OK to have an XBox Video game where you can rip the head off a human opponent while fighting and see his spine dangle below spurting out blood and gore but God forbid you show a flea bitten mutt taking a dump? This however is marketing logic 101.

I remember stabbing a piece of dog poop with a stick as a kid and flinging it at a neighbor girl hitting her in the head as she ran off screaming. It was a lot of fun for about 30 minutes until she called our house and my Mom picked up the phone and I had to walk over and apologize which ironically scared the crap out of me. (OK, so that has nothing to do with scratch-n-sniff cards so I'll get back on topic.)

'Rotten Egg Card'

When I worked for an in house art department years ago we ran into this same mentality nearly every day in regards to marketing people playing kill joy with good ideas and unique products. Everything seems to get dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Of course when something failed it was because the design wasn't up to par, if it succeeded credit would be kidnapped by marketing. They are in my opinion some of the most self-serving, unoriginal thinking, self proclaimed art directors I've ever met.

This is why I refer to them as 'Serial Design Killers'. It's proven to be a very accurate term.

Not all hope is lost however. The set still has a chance to be produced. But will it survive the clutch of marketing in it's current form or be baked down into a bland non-offensive visual glop for namby pamby kids to consume? The latest victim of the 'Serial Design Killers'? Time will tell.

Thus endeth my rant.


Shelley Paulson said...

Hilarious! Thanks for the good laugh today!

Jorge A. Morales said...

Damn Politics!

This happens everywhere because we happen to be handled or employed by people that love to indulge in clouds of speculation and fear. These people would rather copy someone else's ideas and be mediocre than be confident and daring.

Your art is fricking funny and I agree 100% with your opinions about kids liking gross stuff. Remember those Nickelodeon Gak Games?

Jorge Morales

MBKKR said...

Hi there Vonster,

I just checked one off my images on the three thumbs up blog and saw you put up an comment. You said 'i could see this in color on OMNI Magazine'.
I'm afraid i never heard of this magazine. Can you tell me what this magazine is about?

If the comment is a positive one... well thank you for the compliment.

Nice off you to place a comment anyway especially as i'm checking your blog on a regular basis.
I like the way you use the lines and colors.

TR said...

Time to take it to market yourself. Don't let a good idea die.

Your work looks great as always.

ArtKat said...

Hi Von,

I like your Scratch & Sniff Cards, I think they're cute! (Okay, maybe "cute" isn't the descriptive word you wanted to hear, but they've got lots of character!) Plus, I think kids would really like 'em, and that's the point isn't it?

I loved Wacky Packs when I was a kid, too - in fact, I STILL have some of them!

Creative people can find killjoys and idea stompers in all industries - the trick is to keep believing in your own ideas and talent, in spite of them! Take care, and thanks for the eye candy!