This is for all professional, experienced Designers, Creative & Marketing Directors, Copywriters & Production Coordinators laid off in the last decade.
No union support necessary— wait, we don’t have one that stands up for us when things get, go and stay bad. Here’s hoping MAD MEN is truly spiraling towards what we already know is awfully true in American Advertising: Eat or be eaten, f*ck or be f*cked, feast or famine? Mainly famine.
Notice it’s not for Sales Reps and Account Executives since most show up to a meeting, eat, get drunk sometimes, take off work early, golf with clients, cheat on their spouses, come in late, call in at 4pm to alert their design team they need a task done by 8am because they failed to check their email or voicemail all day while they were out schmoozing, being Account Executives. (I was paying attention, quietly taking notes all those years..) For those who need to know the realities of American marketing in a Post-Bush Jr. capitalist world that has been damaged by greed and blind stupidity, this is for you.
Let’s thank GAP for showing all aspiring designers & marketing departments what not to do for an established company that wants to reinvent itself. Hopefully a well -experienced designer got away with the money and the knife they plunged deep into the bloated beast of a successful, capitalist company ran by greedy, global pigs who outsource their payable work for cheaper labor in other countries not called USA. GAP.
As of October 7th, 2010, GAP NORTH AMERICA CEO, Marka Hansen, has made a public statement regarding the new logo and many attacks it has received. She has opened up the idea of having YOU, me, MOM? Your Secretary? ANYONE, design the new GAP logo!
To that I offer something every boss, teacher, elder in life has told me repeatedly; if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But my favorite has always been something Grandpa told me once; If it’s dead, bury it.
By Andy Whorehall
The new GAP logo (pictured right) is a monstrous, American Advertising failure. It is AWESOME in it’s grand marketing scope. The simple Helvetica-like font, the ‘oh look at me, I’m a misplaced blue square!’ It represents so much more than GAP though. It represents the state of our country, capitalism & consumers. Overall intelligence is at stake but that’s nothing new. What happened here? Take what worked well for GAP founder, Donald Fisher, for decades; capitalize, grow, go global, outsource, eventually succumb to greed, target domestic store closings based on demographics & socio-economic statistics, layoffs, closings, restructure, make shareholders happy somehow, wait for founder to die (as Fisher did in 2009), rebrand. GAP. Capitalism, marketing, America, a perfect threesome, one always gets hurt for a long time. In this case it’s GAP.
They began in San Francisco, 1969, as a husband-wife team. Additional references to hippies, drugs, the 60s will be left out after this next line. GAP is a product idea of the hippie generation, as Apple was too. The latter has been through it’s dark period already, reinventing itself successfully with the iMac & iPod, along with Microsoft’s shareholding help in the late 90s to keep Apple floating through Steve Jobs’ hippie excursion, and rebirth. All of this makes sense to me on paper with color, fonts, shapes. GAP, like Apple and Target too, has been known for brilliant, simple, American marketing by having strong branding & an easy to retain identity. Their logos have been embedded into our American memory. They were able to connect with a wide demographic of American consumers, young to old.
This new logo makes complete, awful sense to me beyond poor choices with color and font. What do I know? I’m an experienced, professional, college educated, Designer by day- not a writer. I know a thing or two about having my work constantly critiqued and torn apart, often disagreeing with a client’s ‘pick.’ Experience has taught me to only give a client what they want if they tell me, and get paid. I’m always going to have a better idea to offer, but more often than not, a client only gets what they are willing to pay for. I am not curing cancer, bottom line, I am helping other people make more money. Why I have to succumb to being lowballed in many cases by wealthy assholes just to keep working, to help them make more money, is the daily disgust I chose to live with a long time ago. The Bush Jr years taught me everything I need to know about survival in a country gone corrupt, rooted in capitalist greed, loop holes to protect the wealthiest & laziest while overworking the middle class to the point that now exists, no middle class. I’ve been ‘forced’ to copywrite, sell, direct, proof, present, handle all communication, close the deal, negotiate never ending revisions and non-budgeted requests, deliver deadlines regardless, get paid weeks, sometimes months later- or not at all- just to keep working, perfecting the craft I believe I’m better at than most regardless of income.
Due to major layoffs on copywriters, production coordinator positions in Advertising in the late 90s, early 2000s, most designers willing to stick to their craft have had to take on these responsibilities along with being a f*cking secretary too at most ad firms. I’m approaching 15 years on producing design garbage, perfecting the art of a slimy tagline, good color & font choices. They consume my waking, sleeping, thinking hours but I’m the first one to tell you what I don’t like about what I’ve done that you just may like. I’m pretty sure a monkey could learn to be a designer, most of my clients think they are or have provided me ideas that they think will save them money- note: it doesn’t make you a good designer regardless, stick to your business, I stick to mine.
What comes with being a designer? A knack for knowing what horrible aspects of our American culture click with consumers and a computer. Get to know your surroundings. Example: Big Macs & breasts still get peoples attention as do vegan wraps and fatties wearing skinny ankle jeans. Throw in a crappy font like Bank Bit Gothic you see on NBC or ESPN and there ya go: tacky, successful American marketing. Doesn’t take a genius to know this is a country that loves bad taste, fast food, Bank Bit Gothic and their hits auto-tuned and remixed for pop radio pay to play DJs.
Donald Fisher died in 2009. leaving behind 3 decades of successful branding, global expansion that gave way to targeted downsizing and store closings around 2008. My favorite GAP store closed at CherryVale Mall in Rockford, IL because there’s too many poor people that live here according to federal economic stats & market research reports that well-run companies perform to prepare for a global economic disaster, as has happened. Soon, you’ll see less Starbucks too, if you haven’t already.
This GAP logo. What does it really mean?
This is American Advertising at it’s finest is what it means to me. Something to teach the college kids now about how American businesses function at the top of their global game. Even if market shares are down, GAP still has a well oiled machine producing crap out of other countries for pennies on the dollar while the market slumbers. The new logo that GAP rebranded is an awesome, patriotic & pathetic, design disaster deserving of cheap labor tactics and job outsourcing. Again, it’s ALL MATH. As is this new logo; It’s capable of destroying a company known for it’s clean branding and chic advertising campaigns if they don’t pull it ASAP.
On so many levels, taste and execution, have been abused. On another level, I, as a professional designer can’t help but want to shake the hand of whoever pulled this off. I LIVE to do bad design like this and maybe walk away with my best pay day. The perfect crime I’ll never experience the feelings from pulling off. In GAP’s case, it worked. Til now of course. If this were an intentional design service produced on behalf of a professional designer with a mindset like mine, with a track record for being professionally abused in regards to jobs, hours, pay, by ad firms or in-house marketing teams, Hi-5. Huge hi-5, wow. Professional revenge is awesome, isn’t it? I don’t think this is the case. The blue square underneath the ‘p’ had me laughing out loud. Any professional designer knows the kind of sinister sneer I’m describing.
How does this really happen? Let’s imagine we’re a GAP executive stirring the pot after the founder died; What do we do now? We’re GAP, we’re feeling new, refueled, we lost our core marketing team, we lost our muse and founder but we don’t want to hire back what we lost? Right? They cost us too much already. Let’s redo our logo and start there! Say it with a rich, hippie. twang for kicks. I know this didn’t happen, but try it.
Following all the executive meetings they have wasting time discussing marketing agendas and budgets, dreaming up great ideas to carry GAP into the next half century, 2 things happen, both drastic in assumptions.
1) Hire inexperienced designers who just finished that Photoshop course during their last year of high school, or first year of junior college to fulfill anywhere from 2-6 production positions at part time contract rates that are borderline welfare wages, keep 1-2 offensively working with full time salaries around 22-33K with no overtime incentives, tell them they’ll work 40-60 hours, with about 20 unpaid for as a part of their experience training as a designer with incentives to grow and make more. Why? They’re cheaper on paper than hiring 2-3 experienced professionals who understand deadlines and quality for 55-150K each (depending on position, director status, etc.). The numbers end up being the same, and each will get laid off again when they’re due for a raise their boss said there was no money for 3 years running. It’s all terrible fucking math and I’ve lived it up close at the Ace Hardware Corporation in Oak Brook, IL on their in-house ad team to then enjoy the life of an overworked ad firm employee with 0 incentives to continue in this field, answering to an idiot of a creative director younger than me who rarely put in the all nighters he dumped on me for deadlines to get done so he could go home and raise his little domestic family; in return, perfecting a bad attitude with no raise, 1 week of paid vacation in 3.5 years of service to be laid off over less experienced, underpaid designers. He was an awful director; in love with the CrÃ¼e, socks and sandals, and highlighted tips. Strangely, a good designer despite a poor taste in music and fashion. Being a freelance designer for anyone other than yourself is a better option than answering to anyone that will rape you of your precious unpaid time, helping contribute to an awful, mis-compensated, attitude. Then, once fired, try and rehire who you realized pulled off the all nighters for deadlines once business starts growing again.
2) Don’t hire but outsource to a young, hip, upstart ad firm team consisting of 2 sales rep guys; or 1 guy and a hot, hot, hot, girl with a hidden tattoo always makes for a great sale and repeat lunches. In advertising, their names always end up being Chad & Jen somehow. It’s weird. I’ve never met a sales rep team named Rueben & Katie. I’ve met so many Chads out there selling sh*t. They will approach and offer to help GAP save thousands on rebranding with their talented recently graduated, college friends who are designers that will do any work for a burrito and maybe $100 thrown in. Oh, and they LOVE Wilco and a font named Helvetica because it’s so deep and can be used for anything in the global, capitalist, industrial and modern world. Helvetica is rooted in the past with a knack for appearing from the future. Used globally, Chad & Jenny’s designers don’t know that yet— it’s just one of the free fonts they have pre-installed on their new Mac they bought to match their steel and black rubber handled coffee travel mugs.
Slimy like a snake, slither through those loaded assumptions repeatedly, because 1 of those reasons is dead on, I’ve lived it. Figures it’d take a company founded in 1969 in San Francisco, to royally f*ck up it’s own image. Didn’t I already imply earlier that I don’t need to make ‘drug & hippie baby boomer business references from 1969 in America’ jokes?
Bottom line, this is awful advertising; but it works wonders because I’m talking about it as you’re reading about it. That may be the first lesson I’d teach aspiring designers in college about considering a career change but as much as I don’t like Design, teaching about design seems like cruel punishment despite somewhat better, secure pay. Instead, drop out now, buy a mac, discover Helvetica and poor choices, live life, save money. One of those poor choices may turn out to make you good money if you stick with it. Invite poor taste into your life and that’s all you need to know.
Another lesson to consider is that America as a majority is all about bad taste and choices every other 8 years. Trickle down effects lasts for decades. Good job though, GAP, you paid someone (I hope), and that is honorable. Maybe a secretary internally or an ad firm team created this piece of garbage? Either way, hope for all professional designers is on the ups now. For now, thank you, I’ll proudly take this design disaster as an ironic victory for all designers and marketing professionals who lost their jobs to capitalist pigs years ago.
You get what you pay for, USA. GAP.
Happy 70th, John, written with your creative, political, punk spirit in mind.
You warned us about the ways of the world a very long time ago.
aw | sms