An educator bloogging about graphic design.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Design Imitates Life

BOARD2If you’ve driven along I-40 east into downtown Knoxville, you may have seen this billboard and done a doubletake. Baptist Creative Manager Kieth Grubb created this new campaign that imitatesinterstate signage with a clever message. An article in the Knoxville News-Sentinnel suggests Baptist may be breaking the law, and could be asked to remove the sign(s) by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Here’s my interview with Kieth:
    Q: The concept of this outdoor and print campaign is really clever. Can you tell me about its development?
    A: The idea was developed after photographing the billboard sites we have. Noticing the TDOT wayfinding signs near the billboard, I thought hmmmm…
    Q: You are the Creative Manager for Baptist’s marketing department. Did you pitch the idea to the rest of the marketing department? What was the response?
    A: I discussed the concept with the Marketing Director, our Heart Institute Director and Baptist West Administrator, (the two “product lines” featured on the boards) and we ran with it. We have had a huge positive response to the boards and the News-Sentinel article is simply more publicity. 1965 Beautification Act? Give me a break.
    Q: How did you get the information on typeface and color that helped you mimic the look of interstate signage?
    A: That’s the funny part. I sent an e-mail to TDOT explaining that we were planning on simulating their signs as part of an ad campaign, and would they mind advising us on colors and type. They responded with a PDF which described exaxtly how to design it, including the PANTONE color (356 for the Green) and the chromium levels in the paint. The typeface was custom-designed for the highway department. I found an identical one for free on the Web called “Roadgeek”.
    Q: TDOT has pointed out a law that prevents advertisers from imitating directional signs. How will Baptist respond? Will you remove the signs and keep the print ads, alter the signs, or scrap the whole campaign?
    A: As of today, we have no official notification from TDOT or the outdoor companies. I’m certain that will accelerate after the News-Sentinel story. On Wednesday of last week, when we learned of the article, I booked ads featuring the “TDOT Concept” in the Sentinel for Saturday and Sunday. If we receive an official notification, plans are to change the art, not being in our best interest to draw a line in the sand with the people that have their own police force. I will increase the frequency of the print ads to take advantage of the publicity. If people think of Baptist every time they see a TDOT sign, then hooray.
    Q: This is a very creative campaign for a healthcare company. Do you think Baptist will pull back to more traditional advertising?
    A: I may think differently if I’m packing up my office on Monday but my answer today is absolutely not. I consider it our role as creatives to constantly push for unique solutions that break through the clutter. No one writes articles about or remembers traditional advertising (or it’s product), whether it’s healthcare or beer.


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