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June 2010

The power of prayer

Hope Jim Davies has better luck.

The Nation's Prayer


Here's a prayer in anticipation of Sunday's match. Background and inspiration here

You can download and print your own version if you like (landscape format).

Godspeed, England.

The Nation's Prayer – Background


Yesterday morning, The Partners produced this beautifully simple England poster.

Yesterday afternoon, their prayers were answered: England beat Slovenia and will now play Germany on the 27 June – a Sunday.

That got me wondering about writing a prayer for England, which in turn brought to mind the Bus Driver's Prayer, of unknown origin, but immortalised by Ian Dury. Frith Kerr made this lovely poster out of it for the 2009 London Design Festival:


All of which eventually led me to write a similar thing involving the current England squad. Sue has turned it into a poster, which I'm about to stick up in the next post.



Don't normally post excerpts from the day job up here, but this one was fun and might be of practical interest for some people. Paul Dalling is a proofreader and by all accounts a very good one. I worked with designers Wheatcroft&Co on this site. The first time I've been asked to write copy littered with errors, which worryingly seemed to come quite naturally.

Barnaby bulletin


A few weeks back, we mentioned how we're doing the branding for the Barnaby Festival, a revival of a local Macclesfield celebration that goes back centuries, but has all but died out in recent years. The festival takes place in a couple of weeks' time, so things have been busy.

Alongside the set of postcards we produced, the main piece of print is the festival brochure (pictured above). Once you fold it out, half of it doubles as an A3 poster:


which various shop windows have now started displaying:


And this is how the rest of it looks:



About 40,000 copies were sent for delivery around Macclesfield, while we volunteered to deliver a couple of thousand door-to-door in nearby Bollington (our manor).


This was a slightly bigger task than we first realised and we now have an intimate acquaintance with the many letterbox designs of Britain. Hats off to whoever invented the ankle-high, vertical, tightly-sprung-metal-flap, stiff-brush variety – contender for most misanthropic invention of modern times.

Meanwhile, some big Barnaby banners have started to spring up around Macclesfield, partly as advertising, but also to help with the town decoration for the festivities themselves. 


Not long to go now. Trust you've all kept the weekend free. (Macclesfield is exactly 100 minutes on the Virgin train from London and, from what we've heard, there's never much going on there at the weekends.)

Innocent verdict


The D&AD Awards ceremony took place last night, so the results are officially in. I was one of the judges in the Writing for Design category, where there were 13 in-books and 4 nominations. The only Yellow Pencil went to Innocent, for the latest refresh of their smoothie packaging.

I suspect it may get a reaction, including a few grumbles about how Innocent seem to be only story in town when it comes to writing – the equivalent of Apple in product design. Speaking only for myself, I thought there were two reasons why it should win, the first possibly less valid and the second much more valid.

The first is the Scorsese factor. Despite the perception that Innocent has already had its fair share of accolades, it has never previously won a pencil in Writing for Design – a strange oversight, considering it's the first brand everyone mentions when they talk about successful brands based on good writing. So I think there was a certain 'lifetime achievement' factor in the judges' thinking – it felt overdue. Like I say, probably less valid in terms of strict judging criteria, but relevant all the same.


The second reason is the work itself. This is where the Scorsese comparison breaks down, because he eventually won his Oscar for The Departed, a good film, but probably not his finest. This is one of Innocent's best pieces of work. It must get harder and harder to write good, convincing stuff when an increasingly cynical audience is looking for any excuse to write you off, and you're surrounded by countless imitators tiresomely attempting the same thing.

But Innocent have always done it much, much better. And they've moved things on by introducing some playful graphic and illustrative elements, like the copy that winds in circles, so you're shaking up the contents even as you read it. It's all carried off with the familiar winning charm that Innocent keep getting exactly right – and is much harder than they make it look.

If you're still in doubt, go and read it. There's probably a carton in a shop near you, or in your fridge right now. And that's a big thing in itself. Innocent have brought great Writing for Design right into the heart of everyday life, and created one of the outstanding business success stories of the last decade. Every writer should salute that success. And then go and write something completely different.

The other nominations included:


...some brilliantly executed packaging for a range of 'rockstar'-themed products, which in itself is testimony to the ground that Innocent broke years ago (but very different in the tone of its execution) – created by the Jupiter Drawing Room in South Africa.


... this great call for D&AD entries (one of a series by Tim Riley at AMV.BBDO), which several judges agreed had the greatest 'wish I'd written that' feel about it.


... and this beautifully produced Royal Mail Yearbook by Hat-trick Design and written by Jim Davies at Total Content. The great thing about this is the sheer love and care lavished upon it. It could have been a load of hastily produced blurb to go with the nice pictures and probably no one would have minded. But someone took the care to do it well, and that's what D&AD is all about.

This is already far too long a blog post, but a quick mention for some of the other in-books, which included Jim Davies' excellent monkeys posters; some posters for APG Visual Colour by True North and written by Mike Reed (which also scooped the Grand Prix at the Roses); and some story-telling posters for antiques dealer Espacio David Puente by virgen extra – the first ever foreign language entry to be recognised in this category (entries were in Spanish, with text-only translation provided). Well deserved, but I fear problems in the future.

There were plenty that didn't make it in-book which were nevertheless very good. D&AD is an imperfect system, but the least imperfect one we have.