Branding Virginia Tech

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A terrific essay up over at Ad Age late yesterday about the television branding of the massacre at Virginia Tech last week, “Anything This Graphic Should Never Have a Logo.” In it, writer Simon Dumenco chides the networks for their visual treatments of the event. It’s a very interesting read, as he chronicles the one-upsmanship between the major television news outlets. Here’s a little:

During “Anderson Cooper 360” on Tuesday night, for instance, CNN‘s animated MASSACRE AT VIRGINIA TECH logo throbbed and twirled with all the subtlety of an “American Idol” bumper. MASSACRE was in a stark typewriter font (a transparent attempt, of course, at evoking the gravitas of gritty old-school journalism) in white against a blood-red background, with AT VIRGINIA TECH in black typewriter type just below it. A gaudy, twitchy animation effect caused the MASSACRE type to briefly explode outside of its red box, as did the AT VIRGINA TECH type a moment later. It took me a couple of rewind passes on my DVR to realize that the grainy gray background behind the twitching type showed a gun sight’s crosshairs floating in slow motion across the screen.

Almost as grotesque was the bug placed on the lower right corner of the screen throughout CNN’s coverage: the word DEADLIEST stacked over the word SHOOTING — both, again, in typewriter type — because what’s a news event without superlatives?