The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Designers: The New Used Car Salesmen? [Or Adfolk?]
February 25, 2009, 7:07 am
Filed under: Comment

So yesterday I wrote a post that was kinda about the importance of visual identity and how many companies fail to give theirs any discernable meaning.

Within the comments, our dear Andy went into a frothing-at-the-mouth rant about a document that had ‘come into his possession’ … a document that was a submission by the Arnell group to update the Pepsi logo.

Now I had already received this document from a number of other sources and wanted to put it up – but I wasn’t sure if I could, however after talking to our lovely lawyer Stephen, he has told me that as long as I credit the organisation who originally created it [which I am glad to do because I sure as hell don’t want to be associated with it] and don’t make any ‘industry’ observations [just personal ones] I should be fine … so with that, I encourage you to look at – what is in my humble PERSONAL opinion – a crock of total and utter bollocks …


[Did you click on it? Did you? I know it sounds like it is more trouble than its worth but you HAVE TO check it out – it’s car crash magnetic and literally will only take you a few seconds to skim through. Fuck, I’d rather you check it out than the rest of this post … and you know how long I spend compiling my rubbish! Go on … click on it]

Now I’ve said many times that I regard design as being incredibly valuable and powerful in the development of a brand but this is just a joke.

Gravitational field?


I appreciate I am just some advertising hack, but I can’t help thinking it just looks like a bunch of squiggles made at random points of where a logo was previously placed.

And even if I accept there is some sort of genuine logic in all this – which I can’t – I still can’t see how this lead to them recommending an old Pepsi logo being twisted slightly to the left.

Are they fucking insane???

Then there’s the fact they are obviously trying to imply they’re fucking Einstein … but lets be honest, they’re more Tommy Cooper than scientist.

Don’t get me wrong, there are occasions where the lessons of science can help develop effective communication … but in my experience, the reason most agencies claim this [and adland is equally as full of shit] is because they’re trying to [1] justify their outrageous fee and [2] look smart given all they really are doing is making the sort of image we did as 3 year olds with a packet of Crayola’s.

Oh hang on, there’s more ….

What the hell was going through their tiny minds when they decided to show iconic images from past decades, centuries and millenium? Are they claiming their Pepsi idea means it can be hung up alongside the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper?

I genuinely thought this was a comedy doco – I just could not believe this was a genuine proposal – especially when I came across their ‘Trajectory Of Innovation’ chart.




An arrow pointing up representing the future is the sort of shit you’d expect some 6 year old kid to do, not a multi-million dollar organisation. And I have the sneaky – and worrying suspicion – that they are claiming the angle of the line pointing up has deep significance interms of how ‘optimisitic’ a brand is perceived by the masses.

To say this document offends me is an understatement – this doco makes me so angry that I want to destroy everyone and anyone who had something to do with it … ESPECIALLY the idiot at Pepsi who fell for all the bollocks and coughed up untold millions for the tilted logo to adorn every one of their bloody cans from now to eternity.

My only hope is that millions of people see this bollocks because like the Christian Bale mp3 clip, it might cause Arnell and Pepsico to hang their heads in shame and seek forgiveness for treating the World like a total bunch of stupid fuckwits.

There are times when I genuinely feel my little band of merry men are literally that – a little band of merry men [and women] but when I see the shit big international companies try and pass off as insightful, relevant and innovative, I come to the conclusion we might be some of the smartest people in the World – and I know that isn’t true, ha!

I think I’ll leave this horror post with Andy’s summation of the Arnell proposal – it seems to sum up my PERSONAL views perfectly …

“all they do in the end is make the pepsi logo look like a fucking smiley. makes planners look almost sensible. wankers”

41 Comments so far
Leave a comment

even mrs c has probably seen the shitty pepsi doc by now so this post was a waste of your time wasnt it but at least it helped you achieve some more fucking procrastination time.

youre saved by the simple fact your anger levels are at a scale I find appealing and your gravitational force photo made me spit my beer all over the fucking monitor.

youre not a complete waste of breath and to show I actually like you a little I have adopted arnells design methodology and created an icon for you based on your individual gravitational fucking force


thats 3 million bucks please

Comment by andy@cynic

I spit my drink out over your closing comment Andy, haha!

Great post Rob. I love seeing you get angry >:)
My fav part of that doco is the last page which explains (in great detail)…

1 x Pepsi = Pepsi Planet
A few x Pepsi = Pepsi galaxy
Heaps of Pepsi = Pepsi universe!!!!!!

Comment by Age

Maybe cynic should open a packaging design arm because Andy seems to have grasped Arnell’s system and I am sure we’d come in cheaper.

I love this post and I adore Andy’s comment. Thanks for putting a smile on my miserable face.

Comment by Pete

nice to see you being so honest about your fucking miserable mug pete. takes a brave man to do that and an ever braver woman to marry one. sarah is a fucking saint

Comment by andy@cynic

If Pete is ugly then George Clooney is hideous. We all love you Pete but not enough for Sarah to worry.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Your attempts to make me jealous don’t work Jem, you still need me and you know it.

Funny photo Rob, which creative helped you come up with it? 🙂

Comment by Billy Whizz

Hilarious !

It did remind me though of clocks being set at 10 past 10 in watch and clock stores to stimulate a happy environment…

Comment by Johan

And I love you too Jemma. But not in a way Sarah has to worry about. 🙂

10:10 clocks, is there any study that proved this had validity or was it another ad myth that just “sounds good” for naive clients?

Comment by Pete

It would be funny if it wasn’t true.

Excellent photo Robert and Andy has captured your gravitational pull perfectly.

Comment by Lee Hill

oh my lord i’m sick of hearing about this shit pepsi id business. although rob, to be fair, your pic is the most hilarious visual response i’ve seen. given that no-one has been brave enough to upload a picture of their vomit yet 🙂

bring back tab clear i say. if we’re all going to save the universe by buying fizzy drinks, it might as well be fucking ironic.

Comment by lauren

Anger really is your energy isn’t it Robert. I agree with every word you have written and if you see the mess Arnell have made with Tropicana’s recent redesign, you’ll know you’re not the only one who thinks Landor has a major competitior in the bullshit process stakes.

If the output was something revolutionary you might give them a bit of a break, but when it is basically Pepsi’s original logo “slightly twisted to the left” you realise they’re a bunch of overpaid cowboys.

And your photo is brilliant. I laughed out loud when I saw that.

Comment by Bazza

I seem to be the only person in the World who hadn’t seen this pepsi proposal and I wish it had stayed that way. It’s embarassing and insulting.

On the other hand that photo is brilliant.

Comment by Dominc

You can tell this Arnell process is bollocks because according to your photo your balls have the most powerful gravitational pull and theres no way that’s true. I just have to ask every woman in Nottingham to prove that. Or Jill.

Comment by dan The man

fuck me. I thought Pepsi was nothing more than a fizzy drink.

Comment by Marcus

As I mentioned yesterday, it absolutely stink of creating convoluted bullshit to justify an exhorbitant fee.

It’s frankly as ridiculous and comically bad as a marketing document could be. It’s wank of the highest order. It looks so magnificently bad as to suggest its a parody, and then gets even worse.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Seems to me their understanding of gravitational forces and powers of attraction is as warped as Billy’s. They also created this highly popular work for Tropicana

Comment by John

Interesting post Robert.

The process being presented by Arnell is certainly eye opening but are you telling me there has never been an occasion where you haven’t oversold your companies credentials or solution?

I am not suggesting you would have been as flamboyant as the example you detailed here, but an exaggeration is still an exaggeration.

Comment by Paul Charles

Overselling is the root of so many problems. In regulated areas, where physical harm might occur for example, people expect (perhaps naively) that thee are stuctural checks and balances that restrict over selling. As individuals, that’s what we want – accurate information enabling our ability to make informed choices. Yet, in theoretically less harmful arenas, too many people in pursuit of a short-term edge throw that logic out the window (because they’re not the customer) and think over-selling is the way to go.

Result: disappointed/annoyed customers, mistrust and a misallocation of resources. Amongst other things.

Rather than focus effort on overselling, the longer-term way to go is to expend the hard effort on making the product/service better rather than paper over the cracks with PR spin and distorted marketing claims.

How many times does it have to be said? Undersell and then over deliver.

Comment by John

the only people who oversell are the ones who think their clients are too fucking stupid to realise it. we dont have or want stupid clients or are you trying to tell us otherwise paul? 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

hey paul charles, this pepsi doc is NOT selling the logo! that s the point why everybody s shocked i guess. and i m even more shocked how the client could buy it. maybe the logo was scribbled on a napkin during a meeting, handed over to arnell and they had to find a way to justify it. who knows. however, i don t find a hint of justification for the smiley in the doc. the circles don t do it for me! and let alone that there is no connection to the actual brand/product. well, i don t see one. it s just bloated nonsense. i cannot see anything in the doc that could be over sold. because it s hot air 😛 (< thats the pepsi max face)

Comment by peggy


would you then demand (if you ever decided you wanted the pepsi account) that the person who ok’d this be fired, before you’d do any work for them?

could an agency as an act of self protection demand that client be up to par, or is it more get them in and change them during the proces?

of course most agencies will point out flaws in current affairs, or else they’d not be able to “add their own value”, but does it play a major part in your decision making proces when going after work?

Comment by niko

actually weve just been given some pepsi business and id still want it even if it happened after this logo debacle.

do we tell clients harsh truths? fuck yeah. does that mean we wont work with someone because we think theyve made the wrong decision at one point? no because theyd be fuck all clients left to work with and i have ex wives to keep.

as long as people are free from bullshit, hungry to do something interesting and prepared to stand for something that means something well give anyone a go. the reality is our beliefs do most of the client filtering before anyone even picks up the phone and campbells presentations do the rest.

Comment by andy@cynic

Paul Charles – I’ve heard at least one client of ours complain that other agencies took them for fools by claiming to do things above their capabilities.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hello Paul,

I feel I have to respond to your comment because this is something we feel very strongly about.

I am not au fait with the process being discussed within the Pepsi proposal however as an outsider I don’t think it’s exaggerated, I think it’s fiction and the only reason this sort of thing can ever see the light of day is because the client/agency relationship tends to be more project based and as such can be agreed, executed and paid for before the nature of the premise can come out.

Our company exists because we have long term relationships with valuable clients and include a royalty payment within our remuneration structure.

If we were ever to knowingly oversell an idea to a client, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot because its success would be impacted and the money that ultimately makes us our profit would fail to materialise.

We have always prided ourselves on being able to uncover exciting insights and develop interesting ideas but appreciate the key is being able to convey these findings and ideas in factual, logical and quantifiable ways. We certainly wouldn’t ever create a document that has no flow, no explanation and seemingly no relevance to the recommended solution which is why I think this presentation does Arnell much harm, even if we are only getting half the story.
With that in mind it is worth remembering the only people who really know what happened are the ones who were present at the presentation so we may have to accept we’re all making misjudged commentary.
The problem with blogs is that sometimes the meaning of the comment can get lost in “translation” so I hope neither of us are victims of this situation.

Comment by George


would better education be the answer to prevent money wasting like this?

a hybrid form where agencies like Cynic, train client side juniors/students?

I ask this because you did (i am guessing here) train your own, Bazza. he is now client side but able to impact better decicions from that side, because he knows better.

A cynic, droga, naked, mother business/ethics course at Wharton or Stanford would def help a crop of young’s get some sense into their thinking..

at the end of the day we can’t always change all the rules of the game, but we can try to educate the players in fundamentals..

Comment by niko

not even a swear word. how the fuck does he do it? kids. my money is on kids. and his wife. no fucker would swear in front of his wife.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hello Niko, that’s a very nice idea but I don’t think too many business schools would be open to it. It’s not about a prejudice towards advertising, its more to do with the level of % profit most communication companies achieve which is comparisson to the more typical corporate organisations is embarassingly small. Like in many things in life, size matters and no more so than in business.

You should talk to Robert because he has an idea about getting business schools to teach CEOs the economic value of personality. It’s complicated but he somehow got some guys at Google to prove this was a potential secret weapon for multinationals.

As for Bazza. He was a freak who ended up teaching us more than we gave back and seeing him do well is wonderful but it’s not too surprising that the organisation he went to is one that has personality, belief and attitude.

Thank you for your comment and suggestion, I hope I am not too much of a stick in the mud.

Comment by George

I thought he just listened.

Comment by John

As for ethics courses in business school – they’ve existed for a long long time but they miss the point being discrete and compulsory. They become an easy module that you have to endure/sleep through whereas ethics and other issues alluded to here need to be inculcated into every course and case-study.

Comment by John

this is all getting too fucking back slapping for my liking. come on auntie we have geeks to bully

Comment by andy@cynic

Design rule #1

Good design doesn’t need justification because it speaks for itself but mediocre design needs mountains of it.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

look at jem wading into the fucking argument. good fucking point as usual

Comment by andy@cynic

Well haven’t I missed out on all the fun …

To be honest there’s nothing to add to Paul’s comment … I think my partners-in-grime did it all … though I also believe Paul’s intentions have been misunderstood because he is a client of ours and just having a friendly little dig.

Or else. 🙂

Comment by Rob

You taught me more than you’d ever know George. Rob and Andy weren’t much use, but you are definitely instrumental in anything I ever achieve.

Comment by Bazza

Where are you Baz? You’re either in a different part of the World or working very late. I’d of thought you were stateside with yesterdays announcement but who knows, maybe you’ve invented the new iTeleporter.

Any news on Mr God?

Any news on how you’ll cope when Andy reads your sickeningly creepy note to George?

Comment by Rob

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