The term outing is merely being used to expose a consistent practice of not reporting, or giving credit, to the folks who have built, sustained, and in many cases created a huge amount of equity for the brands they have helped to manage . . . the brand identity and package designers.
I don’t know Stuart Elliott, but he sounds like a very nice guy. In his bio on nytimes.com it says his interests include politics, popular culture, American history and nostalgia, especially old advertising. But I have been reading his column for almost 20 years and it has had one consistent practice, not reporting on designers and their work, even if they may have had a significant amount of influence on brand heritage.
Yes, his column is not called Package Design its called Advertising, a sort of overly simplistic and indeed nostalgic term these days, but his consistent avoidance of giving credit to designers seems, at times, almost willful.
For instance take his column today on the new campaign for 8th Continent Soymilk. Mr. Elliott mentions repeatedly the work done by BBDO West in San Francisco (and its great) to build the new identity around a friendlier more approachable brand. The column says,
“The goal is to cultivate a brand image around “the family atmosphere,” said Sam Stremick, vice president for sales and marketing at Stremicks in Santa Ana, Calif., and how “we try to keep everything real, and how honest and refreshing that is these days.”
For instance, the redesign of 8th Continent packages features hand-drawn suns that evoke “artwork on a fridge at home,”
And the only visual for the column is a picture of the new packaging, and yet there is no mention in the print or online column of the designer or illustrator of this new package. For the record, it was designed by Bob Dinetz and illustrated by Ben Javens. Guys great work!
So was this unique, no and I did a little digging. Here is a list of Mr. Elliott’s recent columns that prominently feature the package. In none of these columns does he mention the name of the designer, August 23 – Sweet’N Low, August 9 – Van Gogh Blue Vodka, July 12 – KIND Snacks, June 28 – Bounty Paper Towels, June 21 – Hendrick’s Gin. (By the way if anyone knows the name of the designers of those projects mentioned above please list them in the comments section.)
If you read these articles you will of course read credits for the ad agency, but often the promotions agency, the digital agency, the research agency, the direct agency, the cause marketing agency, the social media agency, etc.
As I mentioned in my Sweet’N Low column earlier this week, this blog has one strong bias . . . that the package is the most important long-term vehicle for building the value of a consumer brand. And I think designers have created more value for less than most in the marketing and communications field.
We should insist that the media give them credit where it is due. Don’t you agree Mr. Elliott?
The image above is from the website of Bob Dinetz, the designer. I have chosen this image, even though it looks like the retail package, as shown in Stuart Elliott’s column, may have changed slightly from this original concept.