Monday, January 12, 2009

Multicultural billboard FAIL

Here in Texas, multicultural means Hispanic. And Hispanic usually means Spanish. I'm not saying these are the right way to do things, but they tend to be the way they're done.

I'm not a huge fan of Pepsi's new campaign, and neither is Barbara Lippert of Adweek, but I almost wanted to give Pepsi some "multicultural" credit for an appropriately placed billboard en Espanol.

The billboard says ¡Delicioso! and of course the Os are the strangely revised Pepsi icon. It does double duty, because who can't figure out what delicioso means, even without knowing a lick of Spanish. However, someone made a production mistake that snuffs out half or more of the multicultural credit this billboard worked to get.

You see, I didn't even see the exclamation points until the third or fourth time I passed the billboard. Why? Because they're bleeding of the edge. Literally half to two-thirds of each exclamation point is off of edge of the board, meaning you have to strain to see a third of a white punctuation mark on a light pink billboard (that's right, it's light pink).

I'm sure you could find any surfer dude on the west coast who would know what delicioso means, but the upside-down exclamation point is something unique to Spanish (and by that, I mean we don't have it in English) and shows some genuine cultural (or at least lingual) understanding.

Yet, this crucial element was obscured by a production mistake.

I'm just not sure how a mistake like this happened. It's common practice in anything involving print production to leave "dead space" or an area around the important stuff that doesn't have anything important in it. Media channels ask you to leave this dead space because what they do doesn't always come out to an exact science and want to make sure your work isn't ruined if one of the cut measurements ends up a little off. I kind of doubt this was the production company's whoopsie. Perhaps it was the work of an inexperienced graphic artist whose work went unchecked by an over-busy creative director who didn't want to be bothered with proofing (read "ick!").

But enough speculation, the result is the same- billboard fail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not impressed with Pepsi's new logo, so I'm not too surprised at a billboard fail by the same agency. I first saw the new logo at a church basement event, and I was hesitant to take the can because it looked generic. And everyone knows generic cola tastes like dirt. The lady saw my look and assured me it was real Pepsi. I don't recall a rebranding that made a brand name look like a rip-off of itself before.

Here in Chicago, there's been a bunch of Careerbuilder street ads with zero margins, frequently cutting off big chunks of letters. The first instance I saw was on the side of a building, so I thought it was a planning error that wasn't apparent until it was too late. (Yes, we still have signs painted on buildings here.) But then I saw billboards and subway and bus-stop signs with the same zero-margin. Are they trying to make the letters as big as possible? Trying to be different? Don't know what they're doing?

I don't get it. Any reputable printing company will tell you if your margins are too small.