Original Cliches

Can you imagine a McDonald burger being promoted as an antidote to a hangover? The advertising requirement was to get more people to walk in in the early morning and late hours. The communication solution showed a burger dropping into a glass leaving a trail of sesame seeds. The image is striking, not because it is inherently original. In fact, it takes imagery that is a cliche in another category altogether – antacids and makes it an original in fast food. Fast acting antacids have demonstrated their product story with a rapidly dissolving tablet in a trail of bubbles.  The cliche is transformed into an original, simply by altering the context in which it is published. One would assume that fast food itself causes a lot of those heartburn cases, but here is an example of using the imagery and turning it on its head to underline a product benefit.

As design guru from Germany Oti Achler says “Our world is a world of signs, and if we can understand anything at all in it, it’s the signs”. He was highly aware of the effect and concise nature that symbols, images and signs possess. We perceive them faster and memorise them easier than written information because they appeal to our memory on an emotional level – in contrast to text, which works on a cognitive level. Advertising is consuming itself – taking imagery well established in one area and moving it into another, altering our perceptions and drawing attention at the same time. The other example that won the Red Dot ‘Best of the Best award distictively cues Michael Jackson. Created by MTV immediately after Jackson’s demise, it takes a cliche of mourning – the black ribbon and transforms it into something fresh altogether with the addition of a couple of elements – dancing shoes. With the simple twist, it captures the essence of Jackson’s style and substance.

Lamborghini presented a completely fresh way to say hand-made by using another cliche – landscapes and cityscapes. The shift here was to take every element of the city and make it automobile-centric. At first glance, it seems like a normal city scene. Only on closer inspection does it become apparent that this is a city or a street designed by auto enthusiasts. The pillars, the silhouettes of the buildings, the bridges are all car parts, facades modified to look like ‘normal’ city scenes. Then, the tendency is to linger, to discover how much you can decipher from the picture. All this without a single image of the drool-inducing car.