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Milton Glaser teams up with Mad Men

10 Mar

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If you are not familiar with  Milton Glaser now is the time to catch up. Mr. Glaser was extremely prominent in advertising graphics during the 60’s and 70’s The champion of “instant recognition” his bold statements have become iconic.

2-milton glaser logos - Google Search - Google Chrome 3102014 105102 AMHis minimal approach created some of the most familiar logos in the world of advertising, many of which are still in use and as fresh today as they were decades ago.1-milton glaser - Google Search - Google Chrome 3102014 104939 AMThere is no mistaking the psychedelic influence of the late 60’s, hence the new partnership with the creative crew who are responsible for the production of  Mad Men The series became extremely popular due its depiction of the goings on in a high powered advertising agency. A cross-generational success due to the number of Baby boomers who remember it well and the 30 somethings who still can’t believe that smoking , drinking  and fraternizing was common place during work once upon a time. I really miss those days of press type, hand done layouts and cocktails for lunch.

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Time and fashion move on, as it must for Mad Men as well. It will be interesting to watch the Sterling agency move forward into the past. The question is. How far can they go? Will they push into the 70’s? and what happens when they are asked to take on the publicity for big shoulders of “Dynasty” in the 80’s.

The New York Times Article,

Milton Glaser….

Mad Men…


A Parisienne Christmas

8 Dec


Mr.Repurposed, Alex Calderwood Dies at 47

17 Nov
Alex Calderwood founder of the Ace Hotels has died of undisclosed causes. He was an early proponent of the repurposed look that has become widely accepted in restaurants, retail stores, and home decor. His Ace hotels boasted in room turntables, Industrial fixtures and other “cheap chic” before the more widely accepted and cross generational term “repurposed” came along. Calderwood was right on time with his concept, the recession changed everything. calderwood was offering an alternative to the drop dead chic of hotels like the “W” chain. Appealing to a broader clientele, those with money who want to appear edgy and those who are really “edgy” but without the funds. A brilliant move.
Follow the money, the post recession retail scene has divided retail into two camps. The “haves” and the “have nots” On the right we have the designer brand driven retail stores popping up everywhere the likes of Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Coach, Henri Bendel, Restoration Hardware and Anthropologie are in every A class suburban mall. Some like Anthropolgie are disguising products made in China as “vintage” throw backs to exploit the trend in order serve a clientele that would never step foot in a second hand shop and need the security of spending too much for brand recognition. Ace Hotels transcended the cost of being “hip” he referred to them as Art projects.
On the left we have hundreds of dollar stores and the owner operated consignment and “vintage” shops. Twenty years ago vintage was called “thrift” and only the more Bohemian boomers (like myself) scoured them for cheap mid century. Repurposed has become the new chic, one can claim that recycling is due to a social conciousness, but behind it all is the diminished buying power of the middle class customer.[the thirty somethings with children] We are also are in the midst of a generation shift, todays millennials working for a minimum wage have no choice, but to shop H&M, Old Navy, Target or the last resort, Walmart.
The road to success can be a dangerous ride, for some the trip is short.

Sears, Honor Built Homes

31 Oct


I’m posting this to make amends for my previous piece that tore to shreds Sears merchandising practices. Many of you may not know that many of our older suburbs contain hundreds of Sears “Honor Bilt” prefabricated homes. Sears Roebuck was the first company to turn homes into pre-cut kits. They offered every type of home imaginable, from cute “craftsman” bungalows to elaborate southern mansions


One could order from a catalog, a house that fit your regions vernacular. English Tudor for the Eastern seaboard, craftsman for the Midwest or Spanish revival for the south western states,
even Prairie style adapted from Frank Lloyd was available Anything was possible due to Sears ability to merchandise on a level that was unheard of in the early 20th century. Each kit came with instructions for the assembly of the numbered pre-cut components. One could customize by choosing hardware,lighting fixtures,exterior cladding and roofing. Sears also offered easy payment plans so that the average middle class owner could obtain the house of their dreams. Need I make any comments about our current middle class?




Next time your cruising around the neighborhood, look around these homes are still with us. A testament to the organizational, design and merchandising ability of the Sears Roebuck Company

Knit bombing for Knit Wits

30 Oct

I just don’t understand where this strange craze came from…Knit Bombing has been surfacing here and there for a couple of years. The first I saw was on tree trunks, now it’s spreading to cash machines and parking meters…you name’s been bombed.

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I must admit its a more entertaining than spray paint graffiti, and it takes more talent to apply


Can you believe this bus? How long did it take to pull this off, pretty amazing.

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Even Rocky has been Bombed, although I’m sure its not the first time.


We’re Bullish on knitting, certainly a refreshing alternative to corrupt investment practices. Was only a matter of time before a savvy retailer grabbed on to the idea.

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Warehouse a British retailer did just that. They launched a campaign encouraging the public to snap photos of their attempts at bombing, with a tag of course.

Bombed and tagged, I like’s the link fashion and mash

Dollar Stores and the Old 5 and 10’s

23 Oct

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Ever since the proliferation of dollar stores began I have thought about the 5 and 10′s that once upon a time were the flagships of small town commercial areas. Woolworth and Kresge were everywhere. They were the people’s stores,offering everything thing from window shades to sewing notions. Miniature department stores without the glitz and glamour of high-end retail. I bought my first goldfish and turtle from a 5 and 10 as well as model cars,( every time I had two bucks in my pocket) As I matured my 5 and 10 tastes turned to the record departments and a plate of French fries and a cherry coke at the counter. I will never forget the much-loved photo booth, as we tried to cram as many friends in at once for a group shot. There was no stigma attached to shopping them, they were what they were, something for everyone at an affordable price.

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As time moved on into the 60’s they either morphed into discount stores like Kmart (which was Kresge’s) or disappeared completely by the 70’s. No more lunch counters, no photo booths, no more cherry cokes. They were all lost due to suburban development that allowed for shopping centers and vast discounters like Korvettes, Two Guys and ironically the Kmarts. Discount fever gripped the nation, as well as huge parking lots.


The 70’s were the darkest period for urban centers and older fringe communities as the flight to the suburbs continued. The 80’s weren’t any better as downtown department stores closed and retail went into a downward spiral.


It was the 90’s that brought a change. General merchandise stores started popping up in urban areas that once played host to those 5 and 10’s. Some even operating out of the same space once held by a 5 and 10. They were a mess, merchandise bought off price and thrown in. No departments, no consistency of product, what ever was available was what they sold. Poor quality goods CHEAP.


As in all retail competition makes for better stores. The recession brought about more companies, competing for your dollar. The past twenty years have seen the Dollar store concept mature into the 5 and 10 of old. Their supply chains have matured,but unfortunately China is their major wholesaler,no more occupied Japan no, made in theUSA, all due to the dollar store. The average family in the states has little choice but to shop where the price fits their budget. The most successful dollar stores now have consistent departments for every need, just like Woolworth’s. The lunch counter has been replaced by dairy cases and grocery, record departments have become phone cases and headphones, goldfish are now by Pepperidge Farm and turtles are chocolate covered.


Although they have improved and are now a permanent fixture on the retail scene, they just can’t provide the entertainment factor of the old 5 and 10’s. Hanging with friends at the counter eating fries, shooting gum tipped straws at the ceiling and seeking immortality in a photo booth.

Ever Wonder Why No One Shops Sears?

22 Oct


Sears doesn’t know who they are, this empty cart is emblematic of their identity crises. Are we Kmart? Or are we Macy’s? at least Macy pretends to be a “real”department store. No carts. Kmart knows that carts are an essential part of their program. Make up your mind, Sears.

The contrast is extreme, in a world of battling branding waged by retailers like Apple and Urban Outfitters how can Sears not see that they look abandoned. The following photos remind me of the series “The World After People” a department store left to the ravages of time without human habitation. It’s no wonder that Sears (once the largest retailer in the world) has lost its customer base. Despite all it’s problems even Penny’s looks like Bergdorf’s by comparison. I wish someone would explain why the oldest retailer in the States hasn’t figured out how to merchandise product.


This is the result of employee rigging, no VM would ever mount this display, or would they?


Now here is an exciting electronics dept. three boxes on the floor. Guess they gave up on this category.


Empty gondolas,could you at least remove the shelves and make a display of one product every 4 feet…


This is a shoe dept? Go to Nordstrom’s


The day of department store portraits passed a decade ago. Time for a barricade.


Dead fluorescents in a drop ceiling, Sears has all the signs of defeat,


An invitation to browse, I think not, this mess is too great a challenge. I will pass.


How about a face out? Put something there, anything! Go grab a couple of tee shirts


Boxed items are the easiest products to make into a story, This is the best they could come up with? apparently there are no VMs in this store.


I’ve seen better display at flea markets, this is down right scary. Would take two days to make sense of this tangled mess, but why even try there is nothing here that anyone wants.


Are there any sales people on this floor?


Not even price will move these goods, the Salvation Army does it better, they size order.


Stained point of purchase branding, I think not.

This is why it’s over for Sears, stick to hardware and appliances. Give up the fashion goods. Time to downsize.

A Look Inside Urban Outfitters Headquarters

9 Oct

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I live in Philadelphia the home of Urban Outfitters corporate headquarters   I’ve been in their commons building a number of times, it is quite a campus to say the least. In the Philadelphia Navy Yard. a world unto itself.

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Take a look at Officespacesnapshots

America’s Favorite Subject: Celebrity

4 Oct


I’ve done window displays for 30 odd years. In all that time I have acquired a large set themes and subjects that I rely on daily, Hollywood Celebs from the studio system is one of them.  My prep time for an install has thankfully dropped to a reasonable amount, the clients still do not understand how long it takes to pull it together, and often question your invoice. Gone are the days of heavily propped vignettes, I am so over furniture, columns and elaborate fabric confections. I am not an interior decorator, although most clients think I am. I design retail  stores not boudoirs and no I will not do your sons Bar Mitzvah. I long ago discovered the wonder of Google search, Staples printing dept. and Mylar decals I can walk in with an entire display under my arm.


There is no one more iconic than Marilyn and so easy to install.

“Less is More” has been my mantra for years, but never has it been more true than recently. My years in this bis have taught me that it all comes down to three components. A good tagline, A good Image and most important a Good product. being freelance also helps, I generally have the last word as to what we are displaying.


Judy and Katherine…..Some girls were born for Black and White

I have found that when all is said and done Celebrity icons are a sure way the attract attention, the advertising industry has known this for years. Celeb endorsements sell product, especially if they are dead. I am the first to admit I live for the pantheon of Hollywood actors, my entire creative psyche is based on my life long immersion in movies. Every display I install can trace its roots to a particular frame in a film that stuck on my minds silver screen. Needless to say Americans share this mass hallucination, and I have no problem exploiting it.




Elizabeth Taylor….all the of them…are still magic when it comes to creating attention, I miss her.

If one wants a successful display that at least stops the viewer or better yet gets them in the shop, remember these 3 major rules; 1. Less is really more.. don’t put one more thing in. [ because the client will probably do it after you depart] 2. White is always right. [Maximum contrast in glare ridden windows is essential] 3. When in doubt don’t [ if you have the slightest inkling that what you are doing will offend don’t!] I’ve learned that the hard way.



Lately there has been a resurgence of Bond..all the Bonds, Remember “Shaken not Stirred”

I have proved to myself time and time again that celeb photos will always garner attention and comments, especially from the aging boomers [like me] I have concluded that there now exists two generational groups who will spend, the Gen Xers who are now in their 30s, working, married and still acquiring material goods due to their fascination with the 60s [thank you Mad Men] and the empty-nester boomers who thought they would never be 60, who are now pining for the days of their youth [like me] Boomers are refusing to accept old age, hence the perfect target for all sorts of marketing, infomercials are full of anti aging products. I for one I refuse to join ARRP [denial on a grand scale] I admit it.



Don’t forget Animals, they always create customer engagement. although it’s a bit like listening to parents brag about their children.



The “Sex and the City” period was huge, everyone commented. never has there been a show that so many identified with. Sold a large amount of fashion with this one.




The “Main Attraction” Was the best of all worlds, the movies and the famous couples who inhabit them. We all want it just like it is in the movies.


Even Harriet Nelson was a popular celeb..her windows were always met with the applause she wanted. Talk about apple pie squeaky clean, she had it in spades.

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Brad the First and Only Man to do Chanel

3 Oct

In case you have never seen this, Brad Pitt speaks for Chanel. The only man to ever do so. It’s easy to see why.

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Watch the Video                                       



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