Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ad agency steals logo. Gets caught. Says "blow me."

Left: 100-year-old logo for a defunct company called S & Co. Right: Goodby Silverstein & Partners new logo "designed" by Rich Silverstein. Agency Spy caught them. Silverstein responded thusly:
"Our new logo is old.
I’ve heard that people have been questioning our new logo.   Allow me to explain.  I’ve always loved timeless, beautiful things.  So it’s not a coincidence that the logo looks like a 100 year old ligature.  It was 100% intentional.  I found it in my library in a book of ligatures that I’ve had for 30 years and always admired.  I thought it would be nice to take something old and ignored and reimagine it.  And that’s what I did.
I enlisted the help of a few talented people in the company and with full transparency we took the beauty of the original hand drawn letter forms and conveniently changed the C to a G, removed the O, and added a P.
Appropriation is a big part of our culture.  Sampling is part of the modern music scene.  Andy Warhol’s most famous silk screens were made from other people’s photographs.   And Richard Prince blew up cigarette ads to make art.
Making  something old new again was my full intention and I’m very happy with the outcome.”
Note to Rich: you are not an artist. You are a hack ad guy.
Related: ad agencies—consistently terrible at advertising themselves.

Update: The agency entered their new logo at Cannes in June. Notice there's no mention of the source in their design description here. "Full transparency."


Anonymous Russell Bishop said...

I'll be honest, I agree with him. But only if he informed everyone of what he'd done, and/or sought some permission from the original artist (if possible??)

9:55 AM  
Blogger copyranter said...

He didn't, until he was caught.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What permission are you talking about?? The original logo was done 100 years ago! lol

I agree though that they should have said all this the day they released their new logo, which, btw, is pretty darn good (love it!), not now.

And yes, appropriation is a big part of advertising. You 'Ranter, should stop acting so goody goody. I bet even you at some point have appropriated other people's ideas. Or someone else at your agency.

Here is what Jim Jarmusch once said:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. [...] Originality is non-existent. [...] Always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: "It's not where you take things from- it's where you take them to".


10:06 AM  
Blogger KR said...

This is BS. I can't stand the "There are no new ideas" logic. I don't care who said it, it's LAZY thinking. LAZY. The Earth is flat, and there are no new ideas.

PS: there is a point in the upper left hand of his G that has uneven bezier handles. The original hand drawn was more smooth. You going to give me some excuse that that was intended to show that most art is flawed?

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Graham Foster said...

This logo doffs its hat and breathes new life into a beautiful marque, which would otherwise have faded away into the annuls of history.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodby is the leading word in the name but it's Silverstein's initial that encircles and dominates all others. Hmm.

12:27 PM  
Blogger copyranter said...

Graham: yes, how wonderfully altruistic of them.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Chris Collision said...

I totes agree that appropriation and homage is the lifeblood of the creative enterprise. Which is why I'm proud to announce that this new logo will grace my tumblr forever.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a little late on this topic, as are others. It started at Agency Spy. One key issue is that Silverstein submitted the logo in the Cannes Ad Festival and wound up winning a Lion. Ripping off a logo is one thing; entering into a major award show and winning seems like quite another thing. Compare Silverstein's memo to the Cannes entry and offer your thoughts.

1:53 PM  
Blogger copyranter said...

Yes, you'll notice I credit Agency Spy, or you would have if you had read the post.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Nate Stine said...

Wow, the Cannes Lion description is bullshit.They're actually saying they made it up.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Jalan said...

Total BS. The 'sampling' analogy is especially tortured. More like claiming you've written a song and then, after someone recognizes it, saying you were just 'covering' the original. Yeah, right.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha, sorry. I actually cut and pasted my comment from a comment left elsewhere, including Agency Spy. I'm an ad blog whore. My main point was to discuss the Lion entry. Cannes is now penalizing people who are caught submitting fake ads. Wonder where misrepresenting work falls in the judging criteria. I think the Lion should be withdrawn and Goodby should be banned for a year at least.Silverstein should have known better. Did the douche really need another Lion – for a lame logo?

2:41 PM  
Blogger MrPlywood said...

They like to refer to the agency as "GSP". So they first thought about ripping off the real GSP's logo, but figured that he would come over and kick all their collective asses, so they decided to rip off a dead guy instead.

The real GSP:

5:07 PM  
Blogger MrPlywood said...

^ and not only that, but the "new" logo reads S, G & P... erm...

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Strippednuts said...

I'm confused. That isn't the logo for the new Emerson, Lake & Palmer album?

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is the ELO (electric light orchestra) logo, which was based on the GE (general electric) logo.


11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a company and even emptier statement. Funny how designers sample artistic practice and its arguments in some banal, self-justifying techno-methodological point only.

The point is none of the artists mentioned hide the fact they appropriate, they MAKE it upfront as the material itself (or in the case of Warhol, part of a philosophy) so the gesture is included in the work, and in time art and as well how collectors or institutions bought into that. If you read the argumentation at the time, it was full of fights against what seems normal today.

Sampling and all that did the same, it was upfront, a paradigm changer, not just a template to cheat from and keep the source hidden. The different sources like sourcodes used was part of the artistry, and wanted to be discovered.

Yeah, he hides the fact and wins for originality, it's REALLY the same.
Also no one will confuse a Jarmusch film for the stuff he quotes from.

This logo is basically almost 1:1 the same. Not even "inspired".

6:10 AM  

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