Between Interstellar and The Martian, NASA's enjoying a banner pop culture revival. To tap into that growing awareness of what lies before us, the space agency's Jet Propulsion Lab commissioned Seattle-based Invisible Creature to produce a series of lush retro space-tourism posters. The work is a preview of what to expect from the JPL's 2016 Visions of the Future calendar. "The Grand Voyage," above, was inspired by '60s sci-fi paperback covers and represents how Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune align once every 175 years. Its last alignment, which happened in 1977, enabled the JPL to take advantage of their proximity to send two probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, on a path to visit all four on the same trip. Invisible Creature's take on the phenomenon represents the Grand Voyage as a bicentennial festival, a moment worth sharing with the kids once every five generations: "Experience the charm of gravity assists," it proclaims, in just-as-charming typography.
Minimalist design is great when it works, but sometimes the results can leave themselves wide open for interpretation. In the case of San Francisco designer Lehu Zhang, a quickly assembled poster idea for the Chinese zodiak's Year of the Monkey (which begins today) ended up looking more than a bit like something more raunchy. Let's not mince words. It looks like a penis going into a butt. And, I don't know, maybe shaking a bit side to side? "I decided to just use some basic shapes to create a monkey face," he told BuzzFeed News. "That was my intention. I was playing around with shapes and this thing just came up." Yeah it did.
Ad agency The Bull-White House's "Cancer Sutra" campaign was a provocative idea in search of a sponsor—until Stupid Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to helping young adults with cancer, signed on.
Because designers never get tired of minimalist poster projects and Pantone-themed stuff, let us present to you the ultimate mashup: Y&R Shanghai's minimalist Pantone posters. Each one features the eyes of a famous children's character (Kermit the Frog, Garfield and Cookie Monster) set against a unique Pantone swatch with the Highlander-esque tagline, "There can only be one." The idea here is to introduce Pantone to a younger generation of artists, which will probably work if they're talking about little kids. Anyone older than 14 with ideas about studying design will hear all about Pantone, don't you worry. Via Fubiz.
The worm has been turned away. Billboards for FX's The Strain, with creepy critters crawling out of (or perhaps boring into?) human eyeballs, are apparently too much for some folks to bear, and the cable network says it is replacing the ads in several locations—the signs have run in Los Angeles and New York—with less-upsetting imagery. The series was hatched by director Guillermo del Toro and writer Chuck Hogan and slithers onto TV screens July 13. It's a medical thriller about parasites that turn New Yorkers into monsters. So far, the eyeball campaign had generated its share of angry parents and motorists but hasn't precipitated any lawsuits. The same can't be said for last year's eerie "Dexter" takeover in Grand Central Terminal, which generated a complaint from a Bronx woman who claims that the "shocking and menacing" promo caused her to slip on a stairway and sustain an injury. The Strain's ad controversy is generating plenty of buzz for the show. So if you subscribe to the theory that there's no such thing as bad publicity, these wormy posters have hit pay dirt.
The Panem propaganda machine is officially cranking up for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Seven beautiful posters, each honoring a different district from the movie, and an ominous announcement from President Snow have been released to kick off the movie's marketing blitz. (Lots of spoilers below if you haven't read or seen Catching Fire.) In the Capitol TV announcement, a brainwashed Peeta, held prisoner and tortured in the Capitol, stands next to the President and looks off into the distance as Snow issues a warning to all rebels. It's a nice, simple spot designed as delightful fan service without giving too much away. But the posters are the real treasure here. Mad props to whoever art directed them with such an eye for detail and the writer who developed a backstory for each "District Hero." (The bios are actually Yahoo-sponsored content, in case you're keeping tabs on this whole native advertising trend.) It's no coincidence that the most soul-rending execution is the tiny, coal-faced ragamuffin for District 12, where Katniss was from before the Capitol burned it to the ground. Speaking of that, it's been a barren year for fans of fictional advertising. Fewer movies and TV shows are expanding their worlds with imaginary campaigns that give a wink to loyal fans. Luckily, it looks like Mockingjay is gearing up for even more fictional broadcasts from Panem over at TheCapitol.pn (a brilliant use of the .pn domain used by Pitcairn Islands, ironically settled by mutineers). The campaign also has a hashtag, #OnePanem, should you desire to send them some rebellious tweets that, in a real-world dictatorship, would get you thrown in jail.
Turns out we weren't the only ones that found McDonald's newest Happy Meal mascot, "Happy," just a tad on the frightening side. Online marketplace DesignCrowd challenged its graphic design community to a Photoshop contest that would drop the much-maligned mascot into horror movie posters. While tapping into the obvious unease over this character (who's been used internationally for a while but is just now appearing in the U.S.), DesignCrowd also used this chance to stump for its approach to crowdsourced creative: "The public reaction hasn't been positive to the new McDonald’s mascot, and the company would have spent big money on it," DesignCrowd spokeswoman Josephine Sabin tells AdFreak. "Had they gone through a crowdsourcing marketplace, like DesignCrowd, McDonald's would have received hundreds of original designs for a great price." The first place winner received $200, which should afford the winner something like 66 Happy Meals. Take a look below at some of the better entries, and DesignCrowd's contest page for more. The winner is at the bottom of our gallery.
As if the Photoshop-perfect faces on outdoor ads weren't nightmarish enough, German street artist Vermibus ratchets up the horror by using chemicals to transform such posters into grotesque visions for an art project called "Dissolving Europe." This guy's acid wash has nothing to do with jeans. He targets noses, lips, cheeks, chins, ears and eyes. By the time he's done, his subjects resemble nuclear-blast victims, their features twisted into misshapen parodies of the human form. Of course, "ugly" is in the eye of the beholder. Some will find his creations possessed of a certain warped beauty that exposes the truth underlying our pervasive consumer culture. That's a valid interpretation, and it's clearly in line with the artist's view as he traversed Europe, removing promotional posters from their displays and replacing them with his freakish creations. (You can view more of his projects on his website.) A 10-minute film chronicles his journey, and it's fairly hypnotic. The best scene shows Vermibus wearing a gas mask to protect himself from toxins, like some hybrid artist/terrorist, as he defaces/transforms an advertisement. Of late, there have been many examples of public advertising being replaced or subverted to make broader social statements. There's Banksy, of course, railing against capitalism. And those fake ads about NYPD drones. Outdoor ads were swapped out for classic paintings in recent French and English installations. And Richard Sargent's photographs of decaying billboards in California were especially evocative. Ultimately and unfortunately, these efforts become footnotes on the overloaded media landscape. They're fodder for thoughtful articles and blog posts, but all too quickly forgotten. Billboards brake for no one. Ad campaigns keep coming. There's always another pretty face. Via Fast Company.
In a world where love is patient and love is kind, one couple refused to play by the rules. This summer, they're going to the chapel and someone's going to get ... buried! OK, so it was actually last fall, and no one died in a fiery blast. But these parodies of Hollywood blockbuster posters for the marriage of David DiCicco and Rachael Batts are still epic enough to make Michael Bay consider a second career as a wedding planner. The posters were the work of the Virginia couple's close friend, Nashville-based photographer and designer Andres Martinez. After helping them create a Casablanca-themed save-the-date card, Martinez spent about a month creating a series of posters starring DiCicco and Batts, who displayed them at their wedding reception. "It was definitely a labor of love, for sure," Martinez tells AdFreak. "It was a fun project. There are few people I'd rather do that kind of thing for." What makes the posters truly impressive is the attention to detail, from recreating the lighting effects of the originals to matching the body positioning as closely as possible. Martinez said it was the perfect outlet for his passion for learning how iconic images are created: "As I've been shooting more and more, I find myself going to magazines and posters and just looking at them, trying to reverse engineer what's going on in the photo." Late last week, Martinez and the now-married couple decided to share the posters on Reddit, where they rapidly shot to the front page. But their glory was short-lived, as Reddit moderators removed the post from the front page after about an hour because they were concerned about including the full real names of the couple and their friends. Check out all the posters and their inspirations below:
The marketing mavens behind Mad Men are tapping into the golden age of air travel with their promos for the drama's upcoming final season, and now Air France too is trying to keep the dream of glamorous transatlantic transit alive. In a series of print ads gorgeous enough to frame, agency BETC has put a retro veneer on Air France's modern luxuries. (Say, is that Marie Antoinette in business class?) The images, with the tagline, "France is in the air," are fanning out across Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms. Print and radio are planned in a dozen countries. Compare the campaign's nostalgic, feet-up, perk-filled promises with the reality of domestic travel in the U.S., often akin to riding in a giant, jam-packed city bus in the sky, and summer vacation season can’t come soon enough.