A warning to clients: Be careful what you text to a designer. It might end up in one of his designs. Or the texts might end up being the entire ad.
That was the general sentiment after a British ad—created by designer Dave Blackhurst for the Friars pub in Bridgnorth—went viral this week and was celebrated as a genius bit of brilliantly lazy design.
But it’s not the whole story.
This much is true: Blackhurst, a copy editor and proofreader, was asked by a friend, Tom Hughes, who owns the Friars, to design a poster advertising the nightly entertainment there. Seemed like a straightforward assignment if ever there was one.
And the resulting ad was amazing indeed. It appeared that Blackhurst had taken an unaltered image of text messages between him and Hughes and made it into the ad. Undeniably clever, a nice framed photo of it (it was placed next to the pub’s front door) went viral on Twitter and shot to the front page of Reddit.
But in fact—and this doesn’t necessarily diminish Blackhurst’s accomplishment—there was no text exchange at all. A local paper, the Shropshire Star, caught up with Blackhurst, 61, who admits he doesn’t even own an iPhone.
“I was thinking about [the assignment], walking around town, whether to do a ’60s style, a ’30s style, but I thought it has all been done before. That’s when I came up with the idea to imagine the conversation between me and Tom,” Blackhurst tells the paper.
“The irony is I don’t have a smartphone, I have a Nokia C2, so it took me about three minutes to come up with the idea but a few hours to put it together with an online message generator and Photoshop.”
Some might be disappointed that the ad isn’t quite as lazy as advertised. But in some ways, it’s just as clever, if not more so, that Blackhurst dreamed up the idea out of thin air.
Hughes, meanwhile, is obviously thrilled at the attention the ad has been getting, both locally and globally.
“I thought it was something a little different, I didn’t know it would go down as well as it has,” he says. “I’ve seen people stopping and having a look at it, so it has been quite effective. I had a message on Monday saying it has gone viral and it had about 3,000 likes on Facebook. And on Tuesday it just went crazy. We’ve had lots and lots of people messaging us as well and the website views have gone up. It has really done a good job.”