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Neoteny, rejuvenalism, pornography--and you!

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  • Neoteny, rejuvenalism, pornography--and you!

    Neoteny: the retention of juvenile traits in the adult form.

    Rejuvenalism: not a real word (yet), but a popular term used to describe the growing market trend of adults indulging (and purchasing) in purchasing items normally intended for children. Toys, books, etc.

    Pornography: hmm. I'm not sure of the definition. Better Google that one folks.

    You: as in, "Hey YOU, designer-boy (or girl)! Yeah YOU! Better give us some bitchin' logo work, or else!"

    Okay, here's what I'm getting at. It doesn't take a genius to see how far these trends have penetrated (ooh, good word) into our language, popular culture, and advertising. The problem I'm having, in my limited and unofficial role as a corporate communications strategist, is how to approach these trends.

    I work for a college. I've gotten used to my creative always being passed through the political correctness electron microscopes of 'The Powers That Be'. Fine. On the other hand, my work is often being posted, published or even directly on campus, in direct reader competition with other, larger corporate interests who simply don't have to play be the same rules. I see a lot of very clever stuff that ranges from the slightly twisted wording, through gentle sarcasm and irony, to blatant attempts to shock and attract readers. And stuff that would have been scandalous even two or three years ago, is now accepted without much fuss at all (such is the dynamics of shock tactic advertising shelf-life, I suppose).

    However, recently I've begun to notice a trend developing within the academic marketing area. More and more schools have begun to seek outside creative resources to develop strategies for their marketing campaigns, and to really just help them 'get on the map'. Not surprisingly then, more and more of the solutions coming out from these schools seem to be tossing aside the usual 'pc' concerns, and joining the 'edgy' bandwagon in content, language and visuals.

    It's becoming a tricky market reality to swallow, for us seasoned in-house college creatives. Most of us have had that kind of 'thinking' mentally screened out of us by now. It's almost an unconscious filter that kicks in early during the strategy/concept work. And by no means does it curtail traditionally creative, playful solutions. It's just that because it's always been a major, often difficult parameter to work around, it's size and presence has nixxed many good ideas that in any other market would be considered tame or harmless. Kind of like assuming every liquid on board an aircraft has bombmaking potential.

    It's this exaggerated paranoia that routinely forces our 'flights of fancy' back into the hangars, neuters our sizzle, and cultivates the broad, 'nice happy smiling picture' mentality that is so dominant in this area.

    In the end, I think my concerns are just reflecting that old reality of in vs. out, in creative thinking. Outside, you're a brilliant demigod--unless you're hired on in. Then you have about a year at most before they realize you're also a staffer, and a particularly snobby, whiny one at that. Fine. I'll just find someone else who'd be more than happy to design a really NICE program for my son's bowling tournament....

    Rant over.

    Anyone else feeling concerned about shock-tactic marketing? Is it an edge we're looking at, or just a slippery slope? Should I invest in lions, Christians, or marauding hordes from the north?

  • #2
    Lots of words I don't understand, but I get the point. I'm not feeling too concerned, I don't have the English vocabulary to tell you why, though.

    Pornography: "... designed to cause sexual excitement by showing people involved in sexual activity."


    • #3
      Broacher, I don't know about the term shock value in graphic design so much as in TV advertising - most of which is so damn 'edgy' I'm not quite sure what they are advertising. I don't watch a lot of TV.

      I'd mentioned in some long forgotten thread the term neoteny. It seems that most of the rebranding go on right now with most of the major corporations is toward a softer, 'younger-looking', youth oriented design. Everything is round and 'happy'. For example Quark, At&T, McDonalds... I think it's pushing to much toward the babyish. I hate being babied, catered to or talked down to.

      Sex sells. How can you challenge that. I prefer the looser norms than what might happen if it goes too much in the opposite direction.

      Don't give up on yourself, man. You, of all people, can certainly keep learning new tricks. Don't think of it as unlearning old tricks.

      Last edited by PrintDriver; 09-02-2006, 02:35 PM.


      • #4
        I don't really care so much about new tricks. Or being an old dog. Maybe being an old dog is a trick in itself. Maybe old mutts are really here to teach us.

        In the land of the imagination, the island of the In-house Corporate Graphic Designers is small, barren and very cold.

        And famous for being permanently designated as a 'no-fly' zone.


        • #5
          Man broacher, that was some deep thought. At one hand you are talking about the good ole days but then you want fresh design that inspires the young and invigerates the old. I am not sure if I totally follow your train of thought. Sounds to me like you are ranting about the hypocrisy of advertising. But it is the catch 22- damned if you and damned if you don't. I find your read stimulating and think about my own personal contradicitons. Stick to your guns and hold your ground. however, that is always easier said than done. You sound like the kind of guy that always tries to take the high road.
          I don't make mistakes. I thought I did once but I was wrong.


          • #6
            "keep the balance right"
            this short bit of lyric comes to mind from the New Romantic group 'Depeche mode', it sort of puts you in that catagory doesn't it? You want to keep the 'teacher' way of communicating, in that whatever you do is alwys going to give a good influence and yet you like the fresh, 'I don't think too much before talking' idea. So, fresh but not over done. Simple. Keep the balance right. It's what we all strive for after all.






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