CR Blog Stories of the Year 2013

In our review of 2013, we run down the top ten most popular stories from the Creative Review website this year. Click on the links in the headlines to read the original posts

In our review of 2013, we run down the top ten most popular stories from the Creative Review website this year. Click on the links to read the original posts


10, Everton with the late winner… and a replay

In May this year, Everton unveiled a new club badge (shown above). In the face of huge opposition to it from fans, the club rapidly backtracked and invited supporters to choose from three more options. We covered the original design and its replacement (both posts linked above)

Football fans generally react badly to any attempts to mess with the heritage of their club. In particular, changes of club colours, names or badges can provoke huge hostility. So it was with Everton this year when the club announced a new badge for the 2013–14 season.


Development sketches for the new Everton crest by in-house design team. Creative manager: Nigel Payne. Graphic designer: Mark Derbyshire. Artworker: Lee May

On the face of it, Everton appeared to have gone about things in the right way: it consulted with fan groups and published a lengthy background rationale for the new design. But many fans hated the new look and, in particular, the fact that it no longer included the club motto. A redrawn Prince Rupert’s Tower also failed to find favour even though the new design bore a far closer resemblance to the actual building.


The club responded (or caved in, depending on your perspective) to fan pressure and announced a new, wider consultation process. Working with design consultancy Kenyon Fraser it then presented three new options for public vote. The fans’ favourite (above), which includes the motto, original drawing of the tower, laurel wreaths and the club’s formation date, will be used from the start of the 2014–15 season.




9, Matt Willey redesigns The Independent


The newspaper’s elegant, beautifully crafted redesign drew almost universal praise from our readers (post linked above), but others doubted its effectiveness

On November 7, The Independent revealed a new look, the result of a three month project from Matt Willey and the newspaper’s in-house design team. In our post, Willey and the paper’s Stephen Petch and Dan Barber, talked through the changes which included a new bespoke type family and a radical masthead redesign.

A new set of typefaces designed by Henrik Kubel of A2/SW/HK and A2-Type featured throughout. Designing from the type up meant that the way each page worked was rethought, restructured, and, in particular, de-cluttered and simplified.

From the front page onwards, the new direction was striking. The previous blocky sans-serif masthead made way for a new design that was at once radical but also elegant. Willey said its placement was a way of making the compact front page appear more sophisticated, creating a taller, more broadsheet-like format.



“I wanted to go back to an elegant serif for the masthead which felt like such a strong part of the newspaper’s identity when it was a great paper,” Willey said. “Running it vertically allows what is a fairly long name to be prominent, unapologetic, without it getting in the way.”

“We were keen to strip out a lot of the clutter, to simplify the colour palette, to have more deliberate and rational use of colour, photographs and graphics,” Willey said of the overall design. “It just feels like The Independent to me.”







8, Futurebrand rebrands American Airlines … and Vignelli has his say


Ahead of a long-rumoured merger with US Airways, American Airlines unveiled a new look, ditching Massimo Vignelli’s classic eagle logo

In January American Airlines unveiled a new brand identity from Futurebrand, replacing the 1967 Massimo Vignelli classic with a 3D ‘flight symbol’ and plenty of the good ol’ red, white and blue.



Key to the new look was what was referred somewhat clumsily to as the ‘flight symbol’. This 3D device (above) combined several AA ‘assets’ – the letter A, a star, an eagle and the red, white and blue livery. The ‘flight symbol’ was matched with the airline name (set in a custom face named American Sans) in a new mark.





Anyone who is familiar with Mad Men will have an idea of just what a central place American Airlines has in corporate America. In design terms too, along with perhaps IBM, FedEx and UPS, it has been one of the greats – the last survivor of the golden age of US corporate design when Rand, Bass, Vignelli et al branded America.

Vignelli has said that his original (above) was all about stressing “the professional, no-gimmicks attitude” of the airline. It was, Vignelli’s site says, “one of the few [logos] worldwide that needs no change”.

Obviously, AA thought otherwise. Perhaps relying on a “professional, no-gimmicks attitude” just won’t cut it in the airline business these days.

We asked Vignelli what he thought of the new look: “Design cannot cover the mistakes of bad management, but styling can. That is why American Airlines opted for that solution. The logo we designed had equity, value and timelessness. Why to bother with it?”





7, M&S unveils a Christmas ad full of Magic and Sparkle


This year’s M&S Christmas ad starred model/actress Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Helena Bonham Carter in a fairytale extravaganza

M&S unveiled its blockbuster Christmas TV ad on the same day as some pretty bleak sales figures were announced. Would Rosie and her ever-changing array of undies right the ship?

RKCR/Y&R put Rosie Huntington-Whiteley front and centre in a fantasy treatment which referenced Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz and also featured Helena Bonham Carter. The ad was beautifully made but perhaps didn’t have the ‘all things to all ages’ appeal of previous M&S Christmas spots. And a lot of you were horrified by the choice of door bell…




6, Dmitri Aske and the art of plywood


Sometimes the stories which capture our readers’ imagination simply showcase a great craft technique, as in the case of this Russian artist

Number six in our list of the most popular stories of the year on the CR website featured the work of Russian graphic artist Dmitri Aske who created a series of striking plywood artworks.



Aske starts with a sheet of plywood onto which he transposes his drawings. The individual pieces are then cut out, painted in acrylics and re-assembled. This series of pieces was shown at the Faces&Laces Street Culture Show in Moscow. Aske started his career as a grafitti artist but now works across graphic design, typography, illustration, street and fine art. For more, see



5, On The Money


Our Money issue and its follow-up online created a lot of debate in the industry as readers compared their pay with the averages quoted

Are designers badly paid? How much should you charge? What do ad agency creative directors earn? Could you earn more abroad? Our January issue tackled these and other cash-related questions. Online, we shared some of the key findings of the research






4, Dance Pony, Dance


Three’s Moonwalking Shetland Pony became a massive viral hit, prompting widespread media coverage and making Socks an instant star

Wieden + Kennedy’s London office conjured up a dancing, moonwalking Shetland pony to demonstrate that mobile network Three understands that ‘silly stuff’ is important to its users. This film – shot by Blink’s Dougal Wilson who worked closely with MPC to create the pony’s magic moves –  was a great example of a piece of content that was duly shared like crazy. The silliness of a Shetland pony strutting and moonwalking to the sound of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere proved irresistible to many.

As well as the film, W+K, with Blink and Munky, cooked up more ways for the idea to be shared in the form of The Pony Mixer, an app that also lived on Three’s YouTube channel and allowed users to create and share (via Twitter or Facebook) their own remixed videos of the pony performing to different types of music





3, London Underground Special Issue


To mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, our special issue delved into every aspect of the tube’s visual communications

It’s rare that one of our posts about the new issue of CR generates masses of traffic but a combination of the subject matter and, we’d like to think, the content ensured that our March special issue on the 150th anniversary of the London Underground received a very positive response online. It sold out too.




2, Orwell covered up


David Pearson’s ‘censored’ Penguin Classics cover for Nineteen Eighty-Four caused a huge amount of interest and debate on our site (story linked above)

Brand new covers for five of George Orwell’s books featured in a series of Penguin Classics designed by David Pearson. The set included a remarkable take on arguably Orwell’s best-known novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Pearson’s adept use of type – as demonstrated in his work on Penguin’s Great Ideas series of short, influential texts – was once again at the fore of each of the designs. For Nineteen Eighty-Four, the title and author’s name were almost completely obscured by black foiling.

“It’s obviously the risk-taker of the series,” said Pearson. The design went through numerous iterations “to establish just the right amount of print obliteration. Eventually we settled on printing and debossing, as per the Great Ideas series … leaving just enough of a dent for the title to be determined.”






1, Behind the scenes on the John Lewis Christmas ad


With its tale of furry fellowship, the Bear and the Hare captivated many. But what really got the debate going was our post on how it was made (linked above)

Adam & Eve DDB’s John Lewis Christmas ads are met with feverish anticipation by the media. This year’s sweet story about the friendship between a bear and a hare featured Lily Allen singing Keane’s 2004 hit Somewhere Only We Know.

But what really interested our readers (and many members of the public coming to our site) was the technique used to create the spot. In a highly unusual move, the ad was the work of two directors, Elliot Dear and Yves Geleyn, working in tandem.

Dear explained that the ad employed a complex mix of 2D stop motion animation and a ‘real’ set. The technique was based on something Dear had played around with at college. “I remembered something that I was doing when I was a student,” he explained, “which was to do illustrations, cut them out and place them in front of the camera [on a set].” But was all that effort worth it?


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