Archive for May, 2010

Seattle copywriter comes to bat for Seattle sports teams

May 26th, 2010

Recently, named Seattle America’s most miserable sports city. I, for many, take exception to the report. As a senior copywriter in the Seattle area—I have hometown honor to defend. As an author of three sports-related books, I have a love of the games our teams play.

Forbes based their misery rankings on comparisons between the number of postseason appearances by a city’s teams and titles won, the ratio of total seasons to championships, the number of years since the city won a title, and franchises leaving town. (What about venues of play? Fan loyalty? And the all-important quality of concession stands?) To qualify for consideration, cities had to have accumulated 75 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL seasons combined.

Okay, I admit that having the Seattle Sonics leave town to become the Oklahoma City Thunder left a dark cloud over the city. But let’s be honest. With Seattle’s rainy season, we’re used to having dark clouds overhead. Not having a basketball franchise within our city limits doesn’t mean we don’t have a team to cheer for. Local boyz making good from the ’hood include Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Marvin Williams, Aaron Brooks, Spencer Hawes and Jamal Crawford, to name a starting five and 6th man of the year. What’s more, our roundball fanatics cheered the University of Washington Husky hoopsters into the Sweet 16 of the most recent NCAA tournament.

Sure, the Mariners are have never played in the World Series, but their thrilling 1995 playoff series with the Yankees is generally credited with saving baseball. As Casey Stengel once said, “You can look it up.” Just because the Ms are offensively challenged this season doesn’t mean we’re miserable. Ask any baseball fan worth his weight in roasted peanuts and he or she will tell you that catching a game at Safeco Field is close to a heavenly experience. Thanks to the stadium’s retractable roof, there’s never a rain out. Plus, Mariner fans enjoy the “Best Ballpark Eats in America” as nominated by Food Network. Our team may lose a game or ten, but we leave The Safe fully satisfied.

Now it’s true our football Seahawks have fallen upon hard times recently. But if not for Seattle’s losing to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL the Pittsburgh franchise would never have won one for the thumb (aka their fifth NFL championship). While Seattle’s recent play may not be a thing of beauty, Qwest Field certainly is. New coach Pete Carroll and a promising draft have raised the hopes of ’Hawk nation. While on the collegiate side of the ball, the UW Huskies won five more games than the previous season. Did Texas or Florida win five more games last year? I think not.

What Forbes also fails to take into account is that Seattle is not just bound by the four traditional sports of baseball, football, basketball and hockey. The Husky women’s softball team took the 2009 NCAA title. Our Seattle Sounders joined Major League Soccer last year and made an immediate impact—making the playoffs and capturing the U.S. Open Cup. The Seattle Storm won the WNBA title in 2004 and is poised to do so again this season. And the Seattle Stealth completed the inaugural National Lacrosse League season as—wait for it—champions.

All of which gives Seattle sports fans plenty to cheer about.

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Spike Likes Friday, Vol. 3

May 21st, 2010

Friday is here again and that means another highlight of some of our favorite things from the week. Happy Friday, everyone!

Gary Graf: Having kids come home from college!

Willem Buys: I have three things I like this week. 1) Trendwatching:, independent and opinionated, is one of the world’s leading consumer trends firm, relying on a global network of hundreds of spotters. Trends, examples and insights are delivered to 160,000 business professionals in more than 180 countries.” 2) Everybody has a product idea. 3) The new album from The National

Robert Coats: Google celebrating PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday with the first ever playable Google Doodle. Click the Insert Coin button (or wait 5 seconds) and play a game using the arrow keys (bonus props for the ‘easter egg’: insert two coins and Ms. PAC-MAN joins the game. Play with a friend using WASD keys).

Jason Frummet: The quote, “Be who you are and say what you feel…because those who mind don’t matter…and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

Gary Meyers: The Chicago Blues club B.L.U.E.S. on the city’s North side on Halstead Street this past Sunday night featuring the GUITAR SLINGERS SHOWDOWN competition. IPhone photo of Eric “Guitar” Davis ripping up the joint.

Clare Chapple: The Greek Gods Traditional Greek Yogurt. Honey Flavor. Also, the ambitious and determined volunteers that come together to form community arts organizations, such as the Cascade Community Theater Group in Duvall, WA

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next installment of Spike Likes Fridays.

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May 19th, 2010
Hodgson/Meyers Designer Weighs in on Logo Wars

As a designer at Seattle-area business-to-business agency Hodgson/Meyers, I have a deep appreciation of company logos, specifically how art, design and typography come together to capture a company’s personality and define its brand.

Recently I came across a news item that suggests that I’m not the only one paying attention to logos. A 30-year-old Olympia, Washington salon—Salon Fifth Avenue—is being sued by retail conglomerate Saks Fifth Avenue for logo/copyright infringement. The signage for each is below. What’s your verdict?

Making the case for Saks are the following facts:

–Sakes Fifth Avenue has had its name and copyright since 1924

–Salon Fifth Avenue’s logo is nearly identical to the Saks logo

–Saks has its own internal salon business

On the other hand:

–Salon Fifth Avenue has been in business for 30 years

–Salons at Saks are a division of Halcyon Days Salons and Spas

–The closest Saks Fifth Avenue is in Portland, Oregon, a good 120 miles away

Judge Jamie Says

The case between Saks and Salon Fifth Avenue seems a waste of time and money to me. Why go after such a small business that poses no threat to stealing customers or hurting brand identity? And why wait 30 years? I think the lawsuit is more harmful to Saks’ reputation and is actually creating MORE awareness and sympathy for Salon Fifth Avenue.

Saks does have a case though and the money to win it but is it really worth it? Given that Salon Fifth Avenue has moved, in fact, to 11th Avenue, I would not be surprised to find that in time their name and logo change anyway. Should the case to go court I would think that Salon Fifth Avenue in Lady Lake, FL and Marietta, GA would be very interested in the results!

This is not a black and white issue and lawsuits like this are increasing every year. The courts just need to make sure that only appropriate cases are filed and tried. Below are some examples of other logos that look VERY similar. Have you seen others?

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Spike Team Wins Gold, Silver and Bronze Summit Creative Awards

May 10th, 2010

The Hodgson/Meyers creative team has won three 2010 Summit Creative Awards. The Summit Creative Awards “recognize creative excellence in companies with billings under $30 million.” The 2010 competition featured entries from more than 50 countries around the globe.

The Winners:

Category: B2B Advertising Campaign
Client: WatchGuard Technologies
Entry: “Get Red”

As we reported in a November 2009 blog, this campaign was designed to give WatchGuard positioning presence and marketing personality in the crowded network security industry comprised of many competitors with “me-too” propositions. WatchGuard is known for its distinctive red hardware. We developed the campaign positioning platform expressed here.

“Get red. Get secured.”
Then we created the red animal ad campaign that WatchGuard is using in print, interactive, and trade show environments. The campaign is also running as backlit display ads in major airports around the world, such as the one below in the United terminal at San Francisco International Airport (thanks to Jason Frummet, our Senior Account Director for snapping this photo with his iPhone for us).

Category: B2B Advertising Campaign
Client: Applied Systems
Entry: “Epic Acts”

This creative advertising campaign ran in insurance publications introducing Applied Systems’ new Epic™ insurance agency management system. The three-ad series used unusual photo treatments to illustrate how “easy” it is achieve “Epic” acts and by inference how easy it is to run an insurance agency with Applied’s Epic technology. The metaphor comparisons showed an escalator on Mt. Everest, placing a footbridge across the Grand Canyon, and putting a superhighway across the pioneer covered wagon trail.

Category: B2B Advertising Campaign
Client: HomeStreet Bank
Entry: “HomeStreet Gets Business”

Our objective with this campaign was to build awareness of HomeStreet’s business banking capabilities and to tout HomeStreet’s substantial lending power and position HomeStreet as a regional bank. The challenge was that research showed that most people thought of HomeStreet strictly as a consumer bank and home loan lender. Many people weren’t even aware that HomeStreet offered business banking.

The solution was “HomeStreet Gets Business”, an integrated campaign (print, interactive and radio) that targeted business owners. Tempered with a touch of humor, the ads salute business owners for the long hours they put in and the risks they take to make our economy go. The ads communicate that not only does HomeStreet understand what it takes to make a business succeed, it has the power to help.

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Congratulations to CSG!

May 10th, 2010

Congratulations to H/M client CSG Systems International for landing a deal with Universal Sports, who offers Olympic-related and lifestyle sports programming for television and online mediums. CSG’s Content Direct group will provide complete content monetization and a customer management solution for Universal Sports. Read more here.

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Spike Likes Fridays, Vol. 2

May 7th, 2010

Another week gone yet we still found things we’re enamored with.

Clare Chapple: The band, Interpol. And the great blue heron that keeps flying past my window at H/M.

Gary Meyers: “Ten Thousand Words,” by the Avett Brothers

Willem Buys: Blue cheese stuffed olives this weekend. Put one of those in a dry martini why don’t you!

Craig Labenz:

Charlie Worcester: 2010 logo trends on

Gina Auffant: Electron Boy Saves the Sounders, with the help of Make-a-Wish Foundation. Video below.

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Spike’s guest appearance on Letterman.

May 7th, 2010

Look where’s Spike’s been. It’s tough being on the A-list celebrity circuit.

Watch his appearance on Letterman last night.

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Prime Marks, Dumb Quotes and Smart Quotes 101

May 7th, 2010
Everyday we are flooded with visual messaging. It is often that these messages are being incorrectly stated visually. Take Carrabba’s logo for instance. The apostrophe used is actually not an apostrophe at all! It is a prime mark, or in the design world  a “dumb quote.” Prime marks are used for measurements such as (‘) for feet and (“) for inches. So technically, Carrabba’s is visually saying Carrabba (feet) s. It was back in college that I noticed this snafu and actually wrote the company about this lapse in design. To my surprise, sometime later Carrabba’s released a new logo (I take no credit). The prime mark has been replaced with a “smart quote” — a true apostrophe!
See example A & B.

Beyond logos, prime marks are making there way elsewhere. Have you watched Jeopardy lately? The ENTIRE Jeopardy board is filled with prime marks! The comma after the quotation is also a typography no-no!
See example C.

Prime marks are even making their way onto the silver screen. In December, I saw the movie, “The Young Victoria.” It is a stunning film, yet in the first minute my design eye was cringing! Not only were prime marks used as quotations, the dashes should have been “em” dashes which are the correct dash to be used in a sentence pause — plus the period is set AFTER the quotation or in this case prime mark! Typographers and Type-setters around the world are crying!

What examples have you seen of prime marks, dumb quotes and smart quotes? Tell us what you think.

Categories: design Tags:

Hodgson/Meyers climbs on board for youth.

May 5th, 2010

As a BtoB Top Agency four years in a row, Hodgson/Meyers is used to getting down to business for its roster of software and technology companies. However, recently the shop put its resources to work for homeless young adults of the Northwest.

As part of a pro bono effort for ClimbOn—an organization that provides job opportunities for homeless youth—the H/M team re-energized the brand. Included in the project were a new logo, color palette, position line, business stationery and Web page.ClimbOn works with YouthCare to create partnerships with the Northwest business community to provide career counseling and exploration, job referrals and placements to help homeless young adults move toward self-sufficiency. To sum up ClimbOn’s mission, Hodgson/Meyers developed the position line: Jobs for youth. Hope for life. By interlocking the words “Climb” and “On,” H/M created a logo that suggests partnership and advancement.

Said ClimbOn’s Director of Youth Services, Bill Northey, “We couldn’t be happier with the materials—and the thinking—that Hodgson/Meyers provided. Their work has captured what ClimbOn is about, and has provided inspiration for all involved with the program.”

We beg to differ, Bill. It’s ClimbOn that provided the inspiration for H/M. And continues to provide hope for the homeless youth of our area.

Categories: brand, design, shout outs Tags:

Mid-air Logo Collision

May 5th, 2010

What happens when two giants in the airline industry get together? Well, this.

The United name stays, but the iconic red and blue “tulip” design is no more. Created by legendary designer Saul Bass in the 1970’s, the United logo was simple, elegant, and instantly recognizable. The fact that the logo remained fresh and relevant decades later is a testament to the strength of the design. Please take a moment now to mourn.

What we’re left with is the United name and essentially the Continental logo. The resulting identity makes no effort to break new ground, and instead already seems tired and stale. The Continental globe has some brand equity, yes, but it’s also a symbol that’s long been a commodity in the logo world. Hardly fitting for what is now the largest airliner in the world.

Perhaps this is just a stop-gap branding exercise, and we’ll be surprised by an innovative new identity down the road.  Time will tell.

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