Just Go to Helvetica

From Christina Blaser



If I’ve learned anything about advertising so far, it’s this: nothing is done without a purpose, even down to the typeface.

“Just Go to Helvetica” is an article published by Newsweek magazine by Jessica Bennett. There is also a video that complements the article included on the website called “Fun with fonts”, which is also by Jessica Bennett.

I fell across “Just Go to Helvetica” at the beginning of the term and since then I have become obsessed with type. Okay, so maybe obsessed is a strong word, but I’ve become captivated by it. Now every time I see an advertisement in the paper or a logo on a billboard or even a WAL-MART sign I think to myself, what message are they trying to convey to me by using Garamond over Tahoma? Or Verdana? Or Arial? The list goes on and on.

Jump back to J204: Visual Communication and think about the week Dr. Ryan devoted to typography and you’ll remember the long talk about choosing the right font and how it should uphold the feeling or message you’re trying to communicate to your reader. The same can be said for advertising.

The Newsweek article and video on the website listed above used the presidential campaign signs as examples of utilizing typography as a branding tool. According to Roger Black, an art director who has worked on well known publications like The New York Times, McCain uses a German type face called Optima, which Black says is a non-offensive, very straight forward typeface. Obama uses a contemporary, modern typeface that connects with his youthful audience.

It’s amazing to me that something as simple as a letter can express so much to the audience observing it. Distinct brands that have been around in our culture for a long time are easily recognizable to us, even if we only see a letter from the logo. Take for example the Coca-Cola logo below, doesn’t that typeface convey the refreshing, smooth, thirst-quenching feeling you get when you take a sip of an ice cold Coca-Cola? The letters just seem to flow right into one another much like each gulp flows smoothly down your throat. The red pops against the white background, a lot like the fizzy bubbles that pop to the surface of a glassful of Coca-cola.





Can Underarmour compete?

From Walker Clark:


I decided to post these two ads (a Nike ad featuring Kobe Bryant and an Under Armour ad showing various athletes) to call attention to Under Armour’s unique marketing strategy in comparison to larger companies like Nike and Adidas.  I find it very interesting that even though Under Armour sponsors a variety of professional athletes (including all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis) they have chosen to limit the appearance of these athletes in their ads, instead opting to make a no name actor the face of their brand.  Where almost every Nike or Adidas ad features an elite athlete like Bryant or Gilbert Arenas (Adidas), Under Armour ads frequently show no professional athletes.  This strategy has allowed the average athlete to easily relate to the brand and accelerated the brand’s growth.  Only after the recent success of these ad campaigns, Under Armour was able to sign elite athletes and based on their success it appears that they are not going to stray away from their current strateg!




From Marina Doering:


I am a big fan of the Orbit gum commercials (and also the gum itself). There have been several of these commercials, and each one demonstrates a not very realistic, but still humorous way that Orbit gum can clean up a “dirty mouth”. Not in a I-just-ate-a-piece-of-garlic-bread kind of way, but in a I-ate-a-bucket-of-dirt or I-cursed-in-front-of-schoolchildren way. I think it’s a clever way to use the phrase “dirty mouth” and make it entertaining, it creates pleasant associations with the product (it made you laugh), and it is also oddly persuasive. To be perfectly honest, one of these ads probably convinced me pick up some Orbit gum as I was standing in line at the supermarket, and it’s the kind I always buy now because I liked it. 

These are my two favorites:

The famous “You lint licker!” commercial,

and who doesn’t love a commercial with Snoop Dogg…


What does this remind you of?

From Catlin Bower:

HEMA is a Dutch department store founded in 1926. They have 150 stores in the Netherlands, along with additional stores in Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. HEMA was recently bought out by British investment group, Lion Capital. Since then, HEMA’s website as had an interactive, advertising gimmick that launches as soon as you enter their product site. Check it out and let the computer do the work, don’t touch your mouse: http://producten.hema.nl/

Even though we obviously can’t understand the text on the site, I think this is a good example of new methods of advertising to create a bond with the customer, along with keeping their attention. It gives the consumer a complete overview of the products in a fun way.

Amy Wicks and Professor Sheehan Agree that This is a Good Ad



I have always been a fan of all the Gap commercials. This one featuring Audrey Hepburn dancing to Back in Black is by far my favorite. One reason I think that Gap chose to go with these kinds of “dancing” ads for a while is because the songs they used would get stuck in people’s heads. I especially remember a lot of their advertisements around Christmas had songs that I would walk around singing for days. For me personally, if an ad has a catchy song like the “Freecreditreport.com” ad or the songs featured in the Gap ads they get stuck in my head. It may not necessarily make me go out and by Gap jeans or check my credit score online, but the next time I would need that service their companies will always have a stored place in my brain. I haven’t seen any Gap ads like this one in a while, and I would like to see them get back into doing these unique ads. It allowed them to showcase their product in a fun and memorable way. 


J340 Students Agree: Humor Works

From Christopher Miller


I chose this ad because of the use of humor to sell Motorola’s product. The ad starts off with the woman doing a strip tease, in an attempt to pique male viewers interest in the commercial. But the writers of the ad do a good job of getting everyone’s attention by panning to the gentleman in the board room watching the woman undress, then quickly hang up the phone, telling the other guy that his wife called. This ad works for me because the humor is quick, you have to pay attention to get the punch line at the end of the ad. Because of this, I remember the product the ad was for.

And yet another Nike ad

From Rachel Mays






I love this latest Nike Commercial.  I decided to look at some of Nike’s core values are incorporated into their commericals.


1. Driven by Youth – In so many of Nike’s commercials there are youth from around the world that seem to inspire the athletes and the company.  Children are part of our “American Dream” – starting out with nothing and working hard your entire life to achieve the best.  The “Mean Joe Green and Coke” commercial of the 70s seems like the first time advertisers realized the power of youth.  


2. Serve the Athlete – Nike will help you get there but it comes down to you as an athlete and how hard you want to train. If you want to be quicker, more powerful, higher agility, faster speed than you have a responisbility to work for it.


3. Premium –  Enough said, “My better is better than your better.”


4. Quality Products – With hard work and of course, Nike’s training products you will be the best.  I can’t see this ad working for a company like adidas where there is a stronger focus on style than deliverance of quality.