Its clearly evident that people all over the world have embraced Obama's campaign messages and iconic imagery and have attempted to spin them their own way. The driving visual posters (HOPE, CHANGE, or PROGRESS. etc) were designed by one of the worlds more famous graphic designer/artist, Shepard Fairey so that helps with the adoption of such a powerful design.... it was done by someone who knows how to create such a thing of impact. Ive certainly loved how the visuals played such an important role in Obama's campaign. They truly managed the brand identity well. For me, as a graphic designer, I believe it has opened more people's minds to the power of design and communication in terms of it being a significant factor in the world. The fact that a design can FIRST captivate and SECONDLY deliver a message is the objective for all professional graphic designers. So seeing all this in motion was a beautiful thing. The adoption was also a great thing to see. There were great interpretations of those posters and the campaign messages. Some of course, were terrible and some were funny and playful. Ill probably have another post up soon with an analysis of what I thought was great and what I thought was terrible. But i'll get to the point of this particular post now that you have some context of where Im coming from.
I was watching CBS after dinner last Sunday night before the inauguration... just relaxing with some mindless TV. Then here it comes.... CBS promoting their Monday night TV shows, and ripping off the Obama logo, poster art and the Yes We Can messaging.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Well, i yelled an edited version of that out loud as I was sitting there with my Mom and my grandmother, but the F bomb almost dropped. Now, as I said, we've seen people rip-off the poster art so it wasn't too surprising to see that. I was more angry with the fact that they were taking an important message, the "Yes We Can" message, and slapping it around to promote a damn series of TV sitcoms.
This bandwagon-jumping disrespectful approach got under my skin. SERIOUSLY... this IS... not WAS... a message to millions of people during one of the toughest times in our country to overcome issues of race, economic strife, hate, and difference. There was a man delivering to us an idea that we as a people need to come together and put aside our differences, motivate one another, and believe in the power of the human race to be able to overcome challenges we all face. Regardless of this being a presidential race or not, it was still something that was impacting the world in the fashion it was delivered. All his promises aside and whether or not he does a good job has yet to be determined. We all know how difficult it is and he IS a politician. History will soon tell us if he's able to change the game. (and I have faith that he will do a good job by the way) To me, Obama already did the most important thing for our country in his roll as president... he inspired us and reminded us of the power of unity. Something people of my generation and circles of friends have never known in respects to this country. The things my grandmother may have spoke of in years past with other presidents... the feeling of pride with the people you share a country with and the sense of trust that I am somewhat starting to feel now. To me, we are on our way to having the face of the country who we really are... not some old white geezer pretending to know who the middle class is.
So that's why I got so mad at CBS. Shame on them for making an important concept into marketing propaganda. I cant believe no one else has said anything about this either. Are we that used to advertising and marketing folks doing distasteful things. Maybe its part of what they have to do, but we need to check them on these things and keep em in line. That's fundamentally part of the problem in our country today. People act and don't think about the consequences of their actions. How dare they take a powerful message like that, make it feel "fun" and gimmicky and treat it like it was some temporary slogan that was only intended to get a man in office. Its evident that it has done more than that and was intended to do so from the start.