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Adrian Shaughnessy

Logorama


Still from the film Logorama by H5

We learn to live with the encroachment of branding into daily life; like the weather, we just accept it as part of everyday living. But the more we become inured to the bludgeoning intrusiveness of commercial lapel-grabbing, the more the brand owners — and the designers who work for them — ramp up their efforts to attract our attention. 

A world colonized by brands is the theme of a new film by French designers and filmmakers H5. Logorama is a slick 17-minute-long animated movie that appears to lampoon both the Hollywood blockbuster — violent, crude and adrenalized — and the world of branding, a world where logos festoon every surface and where it is customary to be exposed to brand activity at every turn. I say appears to lampoon, because the intention of the filmmakers is unclear. 


The film is beautifully made. It is set in a fictive LA, or at least a CGI city that lives up to Reyner Banham’s view of Los Angeles as "Autopia" and the city of the "immediate future." The screen emits a supernatural brightness; colours pop with chromatic intensity; everything is hygienically pure — it’s Die Hard with the product placements taking centre stage — a disaster movie set in Brand Utopia. It's what will happen when brands make movies, as if they don't already

The movie tells the story of two cops (Michelin men) chasing a gun-toting, child-kidnapping, bad-guy (Ronald MacDonald) through — in the words of the filmmakers — “an over-marketed world built only from logos and real trademarks.” As motion graphics writer Mark Webster has noted, the film contains numerous subtleties and in-jokes: "The Quicktime wall clock; the Energizer street lamps; the 007 guns and homage to Maurice Binder’s barrel shot; KFC getting flattened by the beef jerky store, Slim Jim; and Ronald McDonald being taken out by Weight Watchers." Logorama climaxes in a series of cataclysmic natural disasters engulfing this pixel-built city of a million brands.

But instead of turning us against brand ubiquity, H5 create the suspicion that perhaps they think this logo-dominated, freeway-gridded world is really something to admire. It’s almost as if they relish an homogenised realm of brand ubiquity. Their famous music video for Röyksopp shows a similar fondness for the world of corporate info graphics and PowerPoint pie-chart aesthetics. 

So while I struggled to find the message in H5’s film, I couldn’t help being seduced by it. I was struck by how many of the logos on show are rather wonderful — fine examples of the art and craft of graphic design. But this only served to reminded me of the essential conundrum at the heart of being a graphic designer; namely that the job is to create seduction and allure for our clients regardless whether it is a true reflection of reality or not. And — like lawyers defending criminals — we mostly do this with professional detachment. Yet as commentators have been telling us for decades, there are consequences — moral, political and cultural — attached to our desire to create this world of beauty and seduction. One of those consequences might just be a brand-dominated world like the one depicted in Logorama. Scary thought. 
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Comments (21)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT COMMENT >>

Here's a preview of the movie on vimeo:
http://vimeo.com/7306427

Looking forward to seeing the whole piece!
Stan
01.18.10 at 10:26

It is very true that in the world we live in today, we are branded with different company names, logos, and symbols. But what we have to do is to not fall into a trance with them. I thought that the way the logos and symbols were put into the buildings and all over the surroundings. I watched the clip seen in the other comment and thought that it was hilarious.

01.18.10 at 07:21

It was interesting to find out that a company is actually creating a movie based off brands. I know as a big fan of watching movies that I get quite annoyed by ads that are not subtly placed in movie scenes. For instance, you may be staring Adam Sandler for some comedic scene and you see him reach for a can that is turned perfectly for the camera to read the logo that it is a Coca-Cola he is drinking. Our society is being saturated with ads on the streets, plastered all over buildings, etc. It will be interesting to find how the company will get their movie message across.
Diana Nauss
01.19.10 at 08:25

Fantastic idea, cant wait to see the full movie.
Great Post.
Thanks for sharing


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Fernando
01.19.10 at 10:52

I saw the movie laas novemeber in Oslo and found it really good.
I don't think there's a clear message as in "this brand is good, this one is bad" but there's a very good storytelling and clever use of the motion.

I don't think this addresses an issue, but rather use a more than common truth to take use to a "fantasy world made of real brand build on fantasy..."

Some more thoughts on my blog: http://www.stratosferik.com/general/logorama-a-true-story

Overall, It's good fun :)
Eric Haidara
01.19.10 at 12:22

I agree with Adrian’s suspicion about H5 trying to have it both ways (i.e. appearing as critical iconoclasts while, at the same time, demonstrating their expertise in branding culture and manipulation).
Isn’t it telling, for example, that the look of the Röyksopp music video was “recycled”, lock, stock and barrel, in an ad they directed for French nuclear giant Areva (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3B__ovj2jU) ?
Stéphane Darricau
01.19.10 at 03:31

Excellent video. I'm at the same time jealous and understanding of this situation.

http://vimeo.com/3431751
Lewis Meme
01.19.10 at 09:17

Waiting for the movie to be released on iTunes. If they do plan to.


Shabbir Hussain
01.20.10 at 06:53

It's up on Vimeo. Below.
http://vimeo.com/3431751
Anders
01.21.10 at 01:10

Sorry. Correction.
http://vimeo.com/8873785
Anders
01.21.10 at 01:11

Without brands there are no identities and there is no world.

Brands are not just an inescapable aspect of commerce, they are an inescapable aspect of existence. To suggest that brands pervade the world intrusively is to misunderstand how brands relate to people. It is not in the best interests of a brand to assert itself without an objective relevant to the context at hand.

A brand represents the sum total of an identity experience, no matter what the type, scale or complexity of the identity. Some brands are commercial; commercial brands deal in more immediate value and so they tend to trade in direct attention in highly articulated media. This also makes them easy targets for naive skeptics.

If a brand is relevant it's marks will act in such a way as to allow people to intervene in the chosen environment more effectively. Brands that are in touch with their audiences understand that superficial self-promotion is counter-productive. Brand awareness without an associated capacity to intervene serves nothing.

Not only will the actual brandmarks date as the brands featured in Logorama evolve but armed with a few logo-busting insights and a decent grasp of the significance of the role of brands the appeal of the film is destined to be short-lived. There is a significant difference in meaning between the presentation of an abstract logo and engaging the primary mark of a purposeful brand.

Meaningful graphic design is always subject to brand identity. The measure of graphic design's validity lies in it's capacity to enable intervention. It is a gross and widely held misconception that graphic design is responsible for creating desire. Graphic design can only assist in recognising a brand but it is the brand's capacity for intervention that creates desire. Assisting in brand recognition is not the same as creating desire.

Logorama is more about an entertaining relationship of icons, tags and signifiers in an artificially constructed world than it is about brands. There are many media-savvy witticisms in the film to appreciate but it is not an opportunity to build a credible case against marketing brands.

Brands are not an enemy to be guarded against, brands enable people to makes sense of the world through meaningful interventions.


A.


Permalink
Andrew Sabatier
01.22.10 at 07:43

Great idea making a movie like this and a very nice comment by Andrew.

Thank you for sharing
Cheers
Theo
01.22.10 at 06:42

What do we read from Logos?
We don't come up any hamburgers when we're looking at McDonalds signs. We don't remind of any shapes of bottle from a logo of Coke.
We do see the impression from Logos.
Logos are all about impressions.
We believe that we can get various cheap fast foods from M and we buy cool feeling from Coke.
Yes, I believe that we are basically buying Logos(impression of brands).
In terms of this point, this movie is not telling you the whole story.
We are bringing our impressions of each logo to decorate the story.
Manseung Ha
01.26.10 at 04:55

The mere construct of a over-saturated branded world is so gross, that it would be overkill to make a didactic statement about brands through the narrative.

The only people that might find themselves seduced/moved to care are designers with the obvious self-interest that a few of those are probably your babies.
ryan
01.27.10 at 03:11

As a designer I'd be interested to see the movie - if only from a trainspotters perspective. Looks and sounds entertaining - just like a brand should be - irony perhaps.

(some interesting comments above - Ryan: to say the world 'is so gross', maybe be a slight exaggeration. I felt sad arriving at Koh Samui airport last week, only to be greeted by a set of gigantic (and I mean massive) branded billboards. Over-saturated is a little more accurate).

www.madebybig.com
Kevin Blackburn
02.02.10 at 01:18

*applauds Andrew Sabatier.

Without a doubt that is the most lucid account of the role of graphic design I have ever come across.
Garo
02.03.10 at 07:59

"Brands are not an enemy to be guarded against, brands enable people to makes sense of the world through meaningful interventions."

Agreed, over-agressive marketeers, that in the constant fight for viewer space, and the attempt to force themselves onto the potential consumer, while creating artificial desires for consumption, are the real problem... Brands are just an attempt to associate that desire with a product form a specific producer.

If there was no attempt at creating these artificial desires, brands themselves would become useless...

This short is just a collection of brands that have successfully been pushed upon the consumer enough times that they are instantly recognisable, without actually conveying any underlying criticism at them.

Didn't see coca-cola though.. whats by some called the nº1 one brand, you'd think it would appear (or at least more prominently!)?
Tom Seca
02.10.10 at 04:41

Funny... I saw the film last night and my impression was that another country is calling us (the US) on our shit. This is not a French location but it is a French film - set in California and holding up a mirror to the American way of life (opening scene reveals buildings branded AMERICA).

We are dominated by markting and logos. We are destroying ourlseves with fast food. We call ourselves the United States yet we only offer Free Shipping to 48 States (did you read the getaway car Ronald was driving?). We corrupt our children with violence (the two young logos who saw the guns didn't think -oh no! but - hey, we could sell these). The flash images of in-your-face markting ploys gone astray were abundant.

And as if that wasn't enough... we plunge the earth for oil until we destroy it... leaving only 1 women logo and 1 man logo and an island (what's left of CA)... and as the movie closes we see her pickup the Macintosh apple and have a bite. Adam and Eve anyone???

I was disgusted by the film... but not because I found the film disgusting. It was wonderul created and sends a message if you are willing to hear it. I was disgusted because it was so right on... that someone felt it had to be made. Someone who sees us for what we are and calls us on it.

But we all get to have our 2 cents and I'm sure eveyone who sees the film will have a different reaction.
G Palmer
02.19.10 at 02:34

Scary thought, but more true than ever before. It's the balance of being a graphic designer, to ask yourself if you are designing for good or selling yourself out for the dough. Great points made in this post.
Cyndi Wiley
03.07.10 at 09:48

i find it really funny that a film with a narrative like this won an oscar and other similar awards.....

h5 has the best sens of humor ever.
em
05.10.10 at 06:27

This film wouldn't be complete without the NO SMOKING signs, unlike France & continental Europe, America killed off it's tobacco industry long ago with it's harmful,toxic-chemical laden cigarettes.
I was surprised to see the logo characters smoking, I thought it was not politically correct!
MARTY
06.18.10 at 01:53


Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
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ABOUT THE SLIDESHOW

A slideshow of film stills from the film Logorama.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adrian Shaughnessy is a graphic designer and writer based in London. In 1989 he co-founded the design company Intro. Today he runs ShaughnessyWorks, a consultancy combining design and editorial direction. He is a founding partner in Unit Editions, a publishing company producing books on design and visual culture.
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DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Adrian Shaughnessy

Supergraphics
Unit Editions, 2010

Studio Culture: The Secret Life of a Graphic Design Studio
Unit Editions, 2009

Look at This: Contemporary Brochures, Catalogues & Documents
Laurence King Publishing, 2006

Graphic Design: A User's Manual
Laurence King Publishing, 2009

Cover Art By: New Music Graphics
Laurence King Publishing, 2008

More books by contributors >>

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