The Image of Christ and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews

This week, two articles in the NY Times caught my attention. The first was about the image of a candy package, the second about the image of Christ, and both are lessons about good intentions gone really bad.

And while one is the story of a botched restoration of a religious icon in the Spanish town of Borja, and the other about the botched update of a Philly icon, only time will tell whether these stories will end as intriguing examples of resurrection.

The first article, about Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, initially got my notice simply because it was in the NY Times Advertising column, a place not known to spend much time talking about package design. The story begins with the classic tale of a brand, started in the early 20th century, seriously threatened by departing from its heritage when purchased a few years ago by the Just Born candy company. And then describes the brand’s recent renewal with the adoption of a new package design and communication strategy that returns to familiar and iconic brand identity “roots”.

Hey, this new package (shown below) may not be perfect, but it certainly pays homage to the brand’s retro mid-century influences, rather than the over-the-top, amped, and meaningless typography so popular in the early 2000s.

The prodigal brand losing its way with extravagant overindulgence, or simply a misplaced restoration, and then returning to its former glory only with a return to its simple roots, is always a brand identity theme that gets my attention. We focus on these kinds of stories in my class on the origin and evolution of consumer brands at the School of Visual Arts.

The second article, about the desecration of a religious icon, the fresco of Christ painted by Elias Garcia Martinez in the 19th century, is also a tale of the misguided but perhaps well-meaning update of a classic image . . . in this case apparently by Cecilia Giménez, an elderly congregant of the Santuario de la Misericordia. She apparently got upset watching the fresco degrade on the walls of the cathedral and took matters into her own hands. The results of which you see in the image above.

This sounds like the classic story of many innocent or misguided marketers who mistake change for progress, and take the evolution of brand equity into their own unprepared and/or unsympathetic hands.

The good news is that both of these icons are now in the hands of professionals, who have their best interests at heart, and the ability to restore their heritage and meaning.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Candy, Design Criticism, Design Practice, Packages in Art, SVA Masters in Branding and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The Image of Christ and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews

  1. hah. this was bizarrely hilarious for some reason! the comparative pics really made it.

    very nice, thanks for sharing!

  2. Interesting way of connecting these two very different stories. But you are right, in both cases, it was good intentions gone wrong.

  3. Excellent reflection.Nice post.RegardsJalal

  4. 5starts for the post. The image from Borja is quite an internet phenomenon in the social networks. It can attract more tourists than the original image while the joke lasts. So maybe she is more a marketing designer expert than the ones who work at Goldberg’s chocolate.

  5. conniewalden says:

    The truth is, no one knows what Jesus Christ really looked like. There are no pictures of Him. No photos. All images depicting Jesus’ facial features are false figments of man’s imagination because no one really knows. Connie

  6. whenquiet says:

    Please view my recent August post “Take Me To The Water….I Want To Be Baptised” for a look at a few biblical characters found at Chiesa San Pietro Mandurino in Manduria, Italy.

  7. hayleens says:

    Great observation. Excellent post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  8. petriesan says:

    inventive. . .and entertaining

  9. Paul Petry says:

    “meaningless typography”

    Thank you for this article. Last night, as I was driving home on the freeway I passed a Holiday Inn. I noticed the sign – a big green, plastic square backlit by flourescent bulbs, with a stylized white “H”. With a tinge of nostalgia, I recalled the big, inviting sign that was once an icon on the American highway landscape:

  10. UtahMan&Wife says:

    You had us at the title!
    Congrats on being FP 🙂

  11. MJ Conner says:

    Clearly these were two topics that came together at the right time for you. I love when that happens! Congratulations. The post was well worth the read, and the imagery played its part – at first I thought you were going to compare the candy to the image of Chris. I was a little hesitant… Glad it was written the way it was! Thank you.

  12. Venom says:

    What a coincidence! And wow, that painting really is a mess now! I hope they can fix it. . .

    P.S. The links for the first and second article are mixed up.

  13. Logan Lo says:

    Nice observation! I didn’t notice the similarity until now.

    Of course, now I want some peanut chews.

  14. Defting says:

    Enjoyed the post!

  15. Overwhelmed By Joy says:

    What a great comparison. I do hope they can repair the fresco.

  16. Not sure how my brain arrived at this parallel – it’s an odd ol’ thing, brainy – but your post reminded me of a book called ‘The Origin of Brands.’

    Not that the title doesn’t give it away, but the book draws from Darwin’s masterpiece and juxtaposes it to the nature brand development.

    Jesus v peanut-candy!? Genius!

  17. mysticlovely says:

    Enjoyed reading this. Great post

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