May 8, 2009

Serial Design Killers

My original "Fa La La La Lifetime" Seasonal Branding.

For the past two holiday seasons Lifetime Television has used the Christmas Seasonal Branding I created to promote with. They keep using my art to promote because it's proven to be marketing gold and a ratings winner each year. Awesome!

Lifetime Lovers' Lame.

In our industry a marketing person falls into one of two categories IMO:

A Good Marketing Person: They understand and appreciate the role a designer plays in a project. They communicate well with creatives and equip them to produce appropriate solutions by providing a coherent marketing strategy. They avoid playing art director, and let the designer steer the design. They desire well conceived and executed design and artwork just as much as the designer does. And they know that when combined with common sense marketing the end result will be far more effective and compelling in the end. In other words the recipe for success is founded upon a solid creative process and a mutual respect relationship between creative and marketing.

A Bad Marketing Person: They don't care to understand nor appreciate the role a designer plays in a project. Their opinion is paramount. They think they communicate well with everyone, until someone questions their opinion. Their idea of an appropriate solution doesn't come about from a coherent marketing strategy, but rather based off of what they see someone else doing. Cloaking it in their own psycho-babble, they sell it as an original idea they came up with. They love to play art director, and can often be heard saying "I took art class in college." or "Can you make the logo bigger?" They desire to just get the job done, because designers are too picky and no one will notice or care about that anyway. They think the creative process is a derived formula, so re-heating borrowed ideas is their recipe for success. If it fails they blame the designer, if it succeeds they take all the credit and further feed their self-deception.

When I first worked on the Christmas Seasonal Branding for Lifetime I worked with a good marketing person. The end result was a very successful campaign using nice artwork.

Back in February a designer friend emailed me and asked if I'd done a "Valentines" project for Lifetime because she saw something on the channel that looked like my work but wasn't sure. I dialed in and discovered the above "Lifetime Lovers' Lane" being used to promote another seasonal campaign that was clearly derived from my original artwork. Someone at Lifetime had hacked together the words they needed and crudely Frankensteined a design worthy of flaming torches and pitch forks.

My first thought was "That looks like complete crap!" followed by "Why didn't they hire me to do something fresh?" It didn't make sense, this marketing person (Good) knew better than to do this so I contacted him and he was as surprised as I was. He had moved on to another division and a new marketing person (Bad) was running the show now. He agreed they should have hired me to do it and apologized. He passed my name on to the new marketing weasel...uh...person and that was the end of that.

Mother #$@! Lifetime.

It's now May and one thing is for sure, Lifetime wouldn't know good design if it sat in their lap and called them Mama.

The bad marketing person is playing art director again. A new type of Frankensteined design has been birthed to promote "Mothers Day." I wonder what the next bastardized incarnation will be?

Years ago me and former co-worker coined a phrase to define this type of marketing genius. We referred to them as "Serial Design Killers." This bad marketing person is headed for a Lifetime of design crime and the body count now stands at two.


Meredith said...

Oooh, I feel angry for you! What's even worse is when people "edit" your design and then stick your name on it! I did some programs for my church that had lots of nice, balanced whitespace and the secretary proceeded to add a "watermark" image in all of the whitespace, then told everyone I had designed the brochures (which now looked like crap)! That was the last time I helped them on a project...

Love your new pattern book by the way...I may have to get a copy!

Mike said...

Wow, that Mother's Day design is pretty craptacular! The company I work at designs and builds trade show displays. Sometimes we have to print a client's graphics that are complete bastardized versions of the great graphics we designed for them the previous year. They don't value design, and I think most don't ever know the negative effect it has on their display.

dentednj said...

The type design with the heart reminds me of the old show, Love American Style, for some reason. Very 70's.

It must be hard to watch the artwork you created being cut up and altered to something you don't approve of. It's a good thing it was only type. Images must be much harder to accept.

I guess it's a reminder to clearly define the contract on use of images, and who has what rights of use.

Thanks for sharing all these happenings with us. It really is a great help to know what the market, and customers can be like.

dave said...

Ack, that is brutal.

Clay said...

My visual comment is linked. (click on my name)

sjhilbel said...

You would think a high profile cable channel would be a bit more careful with its brand consistency, but if something like this slips by, what else does!?! Not impressed, Lifetime!

Javier Salomon said...

As said in the post, "the good" person did all the 2right" things, but has now "moved on" to other things, which, btw, is GREAT newws, that means th ecompaƱy IS advancing.

The thing here is to present this to the Lifetime "people" in charge, maybe even offer a "small token" of a skethed idea just new and fresh that COULD be theirs.

Also it's worth reviewing contracts and see if a "sue" is apliable, even if not "winnable" a "stand off" almost allways "pays up" as those kinds of actions set precedent to what might come forth even on other scenes (all pun intended).

So, I almost feel "chained" not able to do a thing, just I'll offer my condolences to the families of the past two holyday victims, and if I can do anyting to stop this blasphemous "serial design killer" cuont me in!

Reena said...

Wow... that Mother's Day design is DISGUSTING. I wonder in a situation like this where you create "work for hire" for Lifetime and they own the rights to your work, do you have any say/control on how they rehash your artwork? Or do you have to just suck it up?

Anonymous said...

Von, You know that I have always said, that "if it can be traced, it will be defaced!" There are others, but I don't want my slogans to become t-shirts.