Is this the best we can do?
Design | 16 January 2011

Is this the best we can do?

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I love Philadelphia. I think it’s rare to love where you were born and raised! But while I do love so much about this fine city, I really dislike the With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® campaign. And now VisitPhilly.com has launched a contest in which “Philly fans and budding copy writers” can submit their own billboards. Budding copy writers? Seriously… the press release included that – check it out for yourself. I am assuming that most copy writers out there are as annoyed by these billboards as designers are. Let’s see if I can sum up why I don’t like this campaign.

Seen it before?

When the With Love campaign launched, I immediately felt like I had seen the visuals before. Chick-fil-A people! Chick-Phila? Oh sorry, couldn’t help myself. Not only does the scratchy hand-lettering of the With Love campaign resemble the Chick-fil-A “Eat Mor Chikin” billboards, but the color palette is also a little too similar for my taste. (Oh there I go again – taste! Get it?) But the visual references to the Chick-fil-A billboards aren’t really the issue. For me, the bigger connection is the use of improper English. Funny for cows, not funny for a city of people that ACTUALLY says “yous” and “wit” instead of “you” and “with”.

You DO NOT complete me

I’ve definitely seen a billboard with “wit” on it but I couldn’t find a sample. Luckily, I found the one above on the left with “yous” included. Do we really want to flaunt the fact that people in Philadelphia say “yous”? Next thing you’ll see is a billboard with “wooder” in place of water!  My other issue with this campaign is that it’s just a hodgepodge of references. You complete me? Damn you, Cameron Crowe! A bunch of your movies ARE bad ass. You’re married to the babe from Heart and that is also bad ass, but screw you for making Jerry Maguire and ingraining that stupid quote in everyone’s mind!

I saw the above billboard as I was about to get on the Ben Franklin Bridge to leave New Jersey (sorry NJ, but leaving you is always a good thing). This one annoys me the most – the reference to Jersey Shore is easy and mediocre. It has that quick a-ha moment, but shouldn’t this campaign go deeper? I wish it did.

I’ll give credit where credit is due. With its simple design (that’s not a bad thing per se), VisitPhilly.com can turnaround new billboards fast and stay extremely current. The Cliff Lee billboard went up within a few days of Lee’s return to Philly and people WERE talking. (Image from uwishunu)

Room for interpretation?

The man-friend isn’t a big fan of the campaign either. He created the faux-billboard above as a jab to the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Those pay-to-park machines do seem to be working properly, NOW! You should check his work out at www.atopanelephant.com.

What do you think about the With Love campaign? Share a comment – I’d love to hear what you think!

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