Tina K. Russell

July 23, 2008

On the overuse of monkeys

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:58 am

Op-Ed Contributor – Silly Chimps on TV Make People Think the Apes Aren’t Endangered – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
A survey that I and several colleagues conducted in 2005 found that one in three visitors to the Lincoln Park Zoo assumed that chimpanzees are not endangered. Yet more than 90 percent of these same visitors understood that gorillas and orangutans face serious threats to their survival. And many of those who imagined chimpanzees to be safe reported that they based their thinking on the prevalence of chimps in advertisements, on television and in the movies.

I’ve long been troubled by the overuse of monkeys in design, especially in Web, fashion, and “counterculture” circles. It’s not clever or funny; it’s just cliché. But this op-ed brings to light one more problem: we are 98% chimpanzee, and these creatures are as respectable, and scientifically useful to learn from, as they are endangered. The more we present the use of a monkey as hip or hilarious in itself, we perpetuate the idea that they’re harmless and plentiful, when neither is true.

I’m not saying you should never use a monkey to represent your brand or product (though the author of this op-ed rightly encourages you not to use a live-action monkey). Perhaps, though, your monkey-themed project could do a charity drive to help real monkeys facing real threats. That could help people understand that monkeys deserve respect and face real danger.

June 16, 2008

Ad Nauseam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:32 pm

Here’s an angry New Yorker:

Lost City: Yo! Check This Out! IKEA Rules!
Aside from the Swedish meatballs they serve in the cafeteria—a dish I dearly love—I’m not much looking forward to the coming debut of the Red Hook IKEA. And their bus shelter ads aren’t helping my mood.

One ad on Columbia Street invites us to be awe-struck by the “corrugated awesomeness” of the box. It actually begins with exclamation “Yo! Check this out.” And it ends with “Boxes rule!” (“That’s how kids talk today. right?” asks the middle-aged Swedish furniture executive.)

I’m sick of ads that try too hard to be “with it.” I recognize that ad agencies think “kids these days” are too smart for traditional marketing, but why not respect our intelligence by talking to us like adults? (And “deconstructing” doesn’t help, unless by “deconstructing” you mean taking down the physical billboard holding up the ad, which I would be perfectly happy with.)

(See also: Our Global Food-Service Enterprise Is Totally Down For Your Awesome Subculture)

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