Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hey K,
I just read this article in the NY Times--a great read about new efforts in Education. The article follows two schools from very different socioeconomic backgrounds in their approach to teaching students "good character" alongside regular rudiments.  The schools are challenged, among other things, to define what "good character" means and how it is of value to the students and their future success and life happiness. 

First thought: this nebulous little thing, "good character," seems to be infiltrating systems of all kinds.  I imagine in this economy, one's character is the deciding factor for employers to take on a new employee.  Character or "goodness" also carries a lot of weight in consumer choices.  Organizations and their corresponding advertising agencies are playing to our society's consciousness, swaying us to believe in a company or choose a brand based on its good character.  I find myself being pulled in by more and more commercials that drive a direct message of social awareness or advocate sustainable practices.  The indirect message we're likely supposed to glean is, "oh, ______ is a really good company, I feel good supporting them."  This has been an advertising ploy since the 60s, but sometimes these mini-movies can be powerfully moving and strike such a personal and contemporary chord...yet still with a tinge of suspicion.

This gave me one of this moments.  Watching on TV (without the branded background graphics of this webpage to clue me in), I was completely absorbed into the imagery, message, the song!!!  So sad, and then hopeful, and then...WHAT???  This is for Chipotle? Surprising, yet somehow inspiring. 

And one that is somewhat ironic to show in reference to the article above: an incredible education project powered by a super positive influential man, to bring value to AmEx?   

However, I think it's great that companies can be born out of this consciousness, in which their advertising IS what they do---Toms or the Red Campaign.

It's cool, I guess, that being good or doing good is momentarily trendy, but can we take it beyond consumerism?

This Summer in Chicago, Kay Rosen's GODOGOOD public installation took over the streets, on billboards, banners, signage, postcards, stickers, buttons, magnets, buses, trains...and even used-book collection containers in several building lobbies downtown.  What looks a little like a large scale advertising campaign, is an art project, just one of Rosen's many word play ditties.  After grabbing your attention, though, the work called for action: 

Tangentially, I'm glad type-based projects are getting a lot of play these days, too.  Doyle Partners did the experimental type pieces that accompany the New York Times article (images at top).  They were actually temporarily installed at the school, only photographed from the perfect perspective.  Here is a "making of" video.  The design company has a lot of other word/type-play solutions, too.  

Whew.  I don't know where that came from.  Anyway. 


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