Monthly Archives: June 2011

Feel the Burn

Recent scenes of Wimbledon’s finest physical specimens  leaping about in the sunshine have got Baby thinking about hitting the gym. But the world of fitness, like dating, is cruel and unforgiving. The vast majority of gym advertising features hordes of aspirationally lean and well-muscled bodies, confidently using fun-looking equipment whilst looking well-hydrated and smug. However, this is one area of the marketplace which is almost unique in its potential to sell by making consumers feel bad. Here are a few of our favourite guilt-inducing, hilariously controversial gym ads.

We would be jumping in the car to avoid being named and shamed by one of these bus-stop scales, used in the Netherlands to advertise Fitness First.


Not only does this arresting image have us looking at our empty takeaway wrapper with disgust, this ad for Montreal-based Gold’s Gym also provokes us to literally ‘burn’ those empty calories. It doesn’t even need a slogan.


This one originates from our home soil, which it declares will soon be invaded by carnivorous, fat-guzzling aliens. Despite it’s light-hearted intent, it generated an avalanche of criticism.


Conceived in beauty-obsessed Brazil, this unappealing ad works both positively and negatively. On one hand, it forces the consumer to take a frank look at their waistline, but by quantifying each bulging belly as a long-distance run, it tries to suggest that something can be done about obesity.


This ad literally tells you to ‘trim’ the excess, or in this case the elephant, to become a better version of yourself. It does include a small tagline ‘spend more time on you’, but no-one is deluding themselves into thinking this ad is about inner beauty.


Another belter from Gold’s Gym Costa Rica, this series of ads focuses on articles of clothing as the unnamed victims of obesity. The human faces are humourously trying to encourage people to get fit and take some of the pressure off their overworked buttons.



The Perils of Rebranding

Here at Baby, we believe in maximising our client’s assets, and recognise that occasionally this requires a rebrand. We helped the UK’s biggest childrens charity ‘National Children’s Home’ become ‘Action For Children’, giving them a dynamic new identity that told the public: ‘There for as long as it takes’.

We have also had the privilege of working with this incredible organisation:

This fantastic charity has previously been known only by it’s lengthy, clinical title ‘Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture’. In the words of Chief Executive Keith Best, ‘Our new name shows our double aspiration: to free people as much as possible from the effects of the torture they have suffered, and to see a world free from torture.’

In our humble opinion, these two campaigns are excellent examples of successful rebranding, where the identity of the product is not lost, but the organisation is given a chance to reword the way they communicate with the public about their work. But rebranding is a dangerous game and is not for the fainthearted. We thought we would take this opportunity to look at some of recent history’s most succesful and unsuccessful rebrands.



In the 1980s, after consumer research revealed that people preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi to Coca Cola, the drinks giant made a move that would go down in marketing history: they changed the recipe.

‘New Coke’ was introduced, and production of the old drink ceased. The backlash from consumers was enormous, with many US customers boycotting New Coke. Within just three months Coca-Cola reverted to its original recipe, which they released as ‘Classic Coke’ which outsold both New Coke and Pepsi. Conspiracy theorists reckon this was their plan all along.


FAILURE: Tropicana

It is customary for large corporations to occasionally reinvigorate the packaging they use, particularly after a decline in sales, as a way of reminding consumers about their product. But when PepsiCo redesigned Tropicana cartons the negative reaction from consumers, who described it as looking too ‘own-brand’, was so strong that they reverted to the old cartons within two months. No wonder, as sales fell by a massive 20% during those two months.

NB This was one of the first instances of consumers using social media to express their views.



When the powers-that-be at Gap decided to abandon their famous blue logo they drastically underestimated the the passion of their clientele. Disgruntled customers took the the internet in their droves in 2010 to complain about the new logo, with one person even setting up a facebook account as the ‘dumped’ logo. Literally within days of its launch the management had to announce that they were reverting the old logo, apologising for having ‘gone about the things in the wrong way’ with regards to informing their customers.


FAILURE: Post Office to Consignia

Dubbed by one critic as ‘nine letters that spell fiasco’, the rebranding of the Post Office to become Consignia was a disaster. After moving away from state control the Post Office wanted a new name to recognise its many business divisions. The name Consignia was chosen as a combination of ‘Consign’ and ‘Insignia’, supposed to convey trustworthiness.

The rebrand cost £2 million but was very quickly abandoned and the company promptly reverted to being called Royal Mail.



Sometime rebranding misteps take years to reveal themselves. When BP spent $7 million in 2000 on brand strategy and a further $200 million supporting the rebrand, they were criticised for spending more money on this than on actually researching renewable energy. But it wasn’t until the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010 that the new green and yellow flower logo, meant to reflect their green credentials, was revealed for the folly it was. The logo was defaced by protesters, and Greenpeace ran an embarassing competition to redesign it.


SUCCESS: Norwich Union to Aviva

When Norwich Union went about rebranding themselves as Aviva in 2008, they actually already operated under that name in over 20 countries. The ads featured celebrities who had changed their names before becoming famous and successful, totally facing up to the rebrand and turning it into an instrument of positive change. Although the campaign set Aviva back £9 million and included some of the most expensive adverts ever made, the proof is in the profits, which rose by 26% to £2.6 billion in 2010.


SUCCESS: Marathon to Snickers

In 1990 Mars rebranded the Marathon bar as the Snickers, the name it was already known by in international markets. It is reported that ‘Snickers’ was the name of the Mars family’s favourite horse. At any rate, UK customers may have complained but the Marathon/Snickers remains the best-selling chocolate bar of all time with annual sales worth $2 billion.


SUCCESS: Opal Fruits to Starburst

Mars invented Opal Fruits back in 1960, before they were launched in the US as Starburst in 1967. Eventually Mars realised they would save money on promotion if the product was known under one name across its worldwide markets. Although the rebrand wasn’t cheap, costing Mars £10 million, Starburst curently brings in about £83 million worth of annual sales.


SUCCESS: Jif to Cif

Though the idea of Unilever spending £2 million substituting one letter for another back in 2000 might have seemed ridiculous to some, Jif/Cif demonstrates how the benefits of a rebranding exercise can be two-fold. Not only do you save money on marketing by having a universal product name, but you have a chance to raise brand awareness and get people talking about what is, in relative terms, a pretty unexciting cleaning product.

The consistent packaging reminded customers that whilst the name had changed, the quality had not, and overall the rebrand coupled with some product innovations has made Cif the world’s best selling abrasive cleaner.

Alistair the Optimist

What’s a dying man got to sing about?

Some of you might have seen our award-winning 2010 campaign for the MND Association: ‘Patrick the Optimist’ that centred around Patrick Joyce, a man suffering from motor neurone disease but determined to fulfil his ambition of painting 100 portraits before his terrible condition made it impossible.

This year we are proud to be helping MNDA with the next phase of the campaign by introducing ‘Alistair the Optimist’. Alistair is a keen drummer recently diagnosed with MND, and he wants to write and record an album with the help of his old bandmates, before the muscles that allow him to drum, sing and breathe no longer work.

Look out for our posters on the underground and find out how you can support Alistair by visiting

Celebrating Brit-brands

Though it may not seem like it these days, in the past Britain has produced some of the world’s most well-known and well-loved brands. A recent poll has revealed what exports Britons as most proud of, and despite the fact that the vast majority are no longer British-owned, we still feel a sense of satisfaction for sharing our iconic products to the rest of the world.

Here are the nation’s top ten favourite British brands. (In a bizarre example of mistaken brand identity, Heinz came fifth on the original list despite being American-founded and owned.)

10. HP Sauce

It has long been rumoured that the name ‘HP’ stand for Houses of Parliament, where the sauce was allegedly served at the turn of the 20th Century. Regardless of the provenance, the image is now a firm part of the sauce’s identity. Launched in 1903, the recipe had been sold by greengrocer Frederick Gibson Garter to the founder of Midlands Vinegar Company for a £150 to settle a debt. After changing hands several times durnig the last fifty years, it is now manufactured in the Netherlands and sold worldwide.

9. The Financial Times

How do you differentiate your newspaper from its competitors? Don’t change the content, change the paper. An example of simplified brand identity at its best, the FT is still printed on distinctive salmon-pink paper, and in 1998 became the first British newspaper to sell more copies internationally than at home. 

8. Harrods

London’s most famous department store is synonymous with old-world British luxury and prestige. Although it is now owned and controlled by the Quatari royal family, this image is a powerful one and holds particular appeal with wealthy internationals. A recent study showing that the average Chinese shopper spends 125% more than an American visitor to the Kensington store has the company planning to open a branch in Shanghai.

7. PG Tips

Pre-Gest-Tee, soon abbreviated to PG, was launched in the 1930s by Brooke Bond. The brand was famously promoted on television by a collection of tea-drinking chimpanzees, a motif which remains central to their brand promotion today. Unilever bought Brooke Bond in 1984 but unlike many of our favourite Brit-brands PG Tips is still manufactured in the UK and exported worldwide.

6. Marmite

You either love it or hate it as the saying goes, but evidently a large proportion of us are proud of the divisive spread. First produced in 1902, the brand is now owned by Unilever and is (according to them) available in 25 countries.

5. Bentley

WO Bentley sold his first car in 1921 but the company was sold to Rolls-Royce only ten years later. After a long period of dwindling sales, the maker of staid and stately limousines saw a resurgence in the 1980s, eventually being bought by Volkswagon in 1998. Most recently the brand has partially thrown off its pipe-smoke-and-pimms image by producing a super-luxe sports car which sold out throughout 2005 and was purchased by celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Denzel Washington.

4. Marks and Spencer

Started as a penny bazaar in Leeds in 1884, the store differed from its competitors by displaying products on trays for customers to examine, rather than keeping all stock behind a counter. Look how that innovation caught on? (We’re talking to you Argos). However despite being beloved at home, Marks and Spencer’s international activity has been troubled to say the least.  After closing all its European outlets in 2001 due to unprofitability, M&S are now taking tentative steps towards opening a store in Paris.

3. Rolls-Royce

When Henry Royce and Charles Rolls met in Manchester in 1904, they agreed to create a company to manufacture “the best car in the world”. The Rolls-Royce company was formed in 1906. In 1971, the British government had to take over the then-ailing company, with the motor car business floated in 1973. But by 1987 it had recovered sufficiently for all its units to reconvene under the one brand. In 1998, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was sold to Volkswagen, although BMW retained the name and marque.

2. Cadbury

Britain’s best-known chocolate company was founded by a grocer named John Cadbury, who opened his first commercial premises for the manufacture of cocoa and chocolate in 1831 in Birmingham. The first milk chocolate bar was launched in 1897, with Dairy Milk hitting shops in 1905.

The Cadbury name houses some true giants of the confectionary industry, but to take one example, the Cadbury Creme Egg is the highest selling chocolate item between New Year’s Day and Easter, has sales in the excess of 200 million per year and an estimated brand value of £50 million. Cadbury was bought by American food giant Kraft in January 2010, despite enormous opposition from chocolate-lovers and politicians alike. Kraft closed the Cadbury factory in Keynsham, Somerset, in March 2010 and switched production to Poland.

1. Aston Martin

Number one in the poll of top British exports goes to James Bond’s car of choice. The company was founded by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin, who named their own brand of car Aston Martin after a successful negotiation of a hillclimb course at Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire.

In 1964, the DB5 was driven by Sean Connery in the film Goldfinger, giving the car, and the the brand legendary status. By 1987, when 75% of the company was bought by Ford, the company had changed hands numerous times. In 2007, the company was sold to two international investment houses. But, like so many on this list, despite its international ownership, it remains an iconic British brand.


Split personality branding?

A few weeks ago we published a series of images depicting famous logos without their brand name. The results showcased some truly elegant design that is perhaps lost behind the big brand name. In a similar vein, logo designer Graham Smith has produced a series of images taking iconic logos and replacing the brand name with that of one of their competitors.

McBurger King

McBurger King



Enjoy Pepsi

There are some things money can’t buy…like olympics tickets


Smith described his project ‘Brand Reversioning’ as “[…] a brand logo that has undertaken a creative change based on the visual style of another brand logo: Brand identities with a split personality”

The results demonstrate the inherent similarities between the major brands, as well as raising interesting questions about the synergy between a brand name and its logo. Which is more powerful? Walking into a supermarket to absent-mindedly buy a can of Coke, are you more likely to pick up a red can that says ‘Pepsi’ on the side, or a blue can that Says ‘Coca-cola?

Food for thought indeed.

(Source:  )

Environmental crusaders

Here at Baby we like to think that as well as producing effective creative work, we also occasionally do some good for the world. Charity and opinion change ads have become increasingly formulaic, causing ‘giving-fatigued’ consumers to disengage. With tight budgets and so much at stake, we think this area is the last place creativity should be allowed to stagnate.

With this in mind, we would like to honour some of the incredible advertising  being done in the name of ecological good. These are some examples of innovative campaigns that are changing the world for the better – and happen to be fantastic images to boot.

These posters produced for Earth Day Canada have elegantly tackled the challenge of convincing people that the human impact on the environment does and will affect them directly. These striking images bring the bleak reality of environmental destruction into our homes and a little too close for comfort.

This WWF poster goes a step further by bringing deforestation inside our bodies. This stunning image has a double meaning, not only does it position deforestation as a cancer to the planet, but suggests that losing the world’s forests will lead to an increase in pulmonary disease.

If we’re talking about advertisers that think outside the proverbial box, this poster for the ‘No Tankers’ campaign produced by Rethink Canada (Is it just us or is Canada a hotspot of great advertising?) definitely deserves a mention. In a beautifully simple piece of design, the posters show nothing except a solid black picture of an oil tanker. Printed on paper and displayed around the city, when it started to rain the image would start to drip, ultimately revealing the message ‘Oil spills affect everyone’ from under a mess of black ink.

Here WWF has tried to turn some of the attention (and affection) afforded to various endangered species such as a panda, a rhino and a gorilla, on to the emotionally neglected bluefin tuna. Whilst perhaps not as cuddly, these tuna have been over-fished almost to the point of extinction due to their popularity with sushi-lovers. WWF are trying to reduce the overall allowable catch by urging businesses in the food industry not to purchase this ugly but not undeserving fish.

These gems are just a few examples of the amazing creations being born in the the name of global good. Keep up the good work, design is mightier than the sword.