Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bus blurb #2

Since, really, what else is there to do on a bus if you can't eavesdrop on conversations, I've spent a lot of time looking at what little there is to see. "New: If you didn't receive proper change at the ticket machine, please retain your ticket and contact the main office in Lugano centro."  "80 CHF fine for riding without a ticket."  "This step is not a trampoline."

A new set of promotional ads for the bus system recently meant new visual fodder for curious americani. (Never mind that the only people who see these ads are already on the bus and thus likely already convinced.) After a few rides, I started to notice something funny these posters, something off. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was not right with that girl striding confidently with her shopping bags. And with the "Convenient...for meeting someone" guy in the gray suit.

And then I realized it. A pernicious little design trick they thought no one would notice. Yes, a careful examination proved the undeniable truth: someone had swapped out the heads in these ads. The shopping girl's long arms and big shoulders, her anomalous shrug, the businessman's tiny head, the way the suit seemed just a touch too old for his age -- it all made sense. 

I am not a designer, but I'm pretty sure that head-swapping, although perfectly appropriate for Fashion Plates, should not be done in real life advertising unless it can be done properly (i.e., so we never know). It has to be a design faux pas up there with scaling a photo incorrectly and getting font happy.  But maybe someone with a degree can corroborate.

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