Illustrator Takes Requests on Twitter and Draws the World’s Saddest Logos

If brands stopped being happy

Headshot of Alfred Maskeroni

Happy brands are everywhere. But what if there were some sad brands, too?

Illustrator and author Adam J. Kurtz wouldn't mind seeing that. Kurtz, who's part of BuzzFeed's BFF team, tweeted out the following right before the holiday weekend:

For the next hour or so, he took requests from followers and churned out shrewd, snarky images, from Nike to Coke to (almost) Starbucks. We spoke with him about the project.

Where did this idea come from?

Brands are constantly masquerading as friends on our personal feeds, on Twitter and Instagram, with bright and shiny photos and copy. But let's be honest, our feeds aren't all happy. People are always complaining, putting negative energy out (especially in a humorous way, like @sosadtoday, one of my Twitter favorites). I thought it would be funny to throw some sad brands into the mix. After all, honesty is about a full range of emotion.

It started with a teen angst take on the Nike logo, and then I opened it up to requests.

Why #sadvertising? Does advertising in general sadden you?

It was just a very, very easy joke. I think advertising can be really great! I worked at Barton F. Graf until just a few months ago, and I think there are awesome and hilarious things that advertising can do for people. It's incredible when you can take a brand's money and reach and turn it into an overwhelmingly positive experience while still accomplishing marketing goals. Really innovative brand activations and clever social interaction is my favorite. Keep things honest and remind people that behind even the largest brands are some genuine, human people. Again, some self-aware sadness is part of that humanity.

Personally, I would buy the shit out of a Nike "Just Do Not" T-shirt. If anyone from Wieden + Kennedy is reading this, you know where to find me.

I imagine it was a joke, but did Starbucks actually send you a cease and desist?

Ha ha, no! I cranked all of these out in 20 minutes before heading to a meeting, and I just didn't feel like drawing that mermaid. In general, they seem very in control of their brand and they're all over social. A whole bunch of my friends have recently been hired to do content for Frappucino. I thought I'd just lay off. Same with Penguin, who are my publisher. I thought I'd spare my editor, who follows me.

What is your favorite logo of all time?

Probably the old UPS logo designed by Paul Rand. That little bow-wrapped package up top is fucking adorable and just so literal. Also I'm a graphic designer, so I am required by law to mention Paul Rand.

Check out more of Kurtz's sad logos below.









@maskeroni Alfred Maskeroni is director of video for Adweek.