Piece by Piece

There’s no easy way to make a great poster, but this distinctive and intelligent example for Parkinson’s UK is a perfect storm of creative techniques

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Making a great poster. It’s hard. Especially if you happen to work in an advertising agency. Because it seems that the vast majority of people in ad agencies have completely lost interest in making great posters (or posters at all come to that). Not very sexy apparently.

It’s so much easier to hide behind a load of gimmicky, real-time, interactive, pop-up, jargon-riddled, YouTube-pilfered, experiential, wearable bollocks isn’t it? Or maybe do a poster in five minutes and just lazily plonk a still from the TV ad on it and then sod off down the pub. Let’s face it, the client and the account person will probably love you for it.

But there’s just one slight problem with all that nonsense. It doesn’t work. This month’s offering, on the other hand, does.

It’s a poster for the charity Parkinson’s UK and it’s called ‘Making a cup of tea’. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that it’s brilliant. I’ll even forgive that bit of ranged right type just this once. And the rather insipid shade of Germolene pink.

This wonderful graphic idea is designed to dramatise the effects of the neurological condition called Parkinson’s. In a millisecond.

It’s simply achieved by chopping up sections of the poster and rearranging them in the wrong order. ‘Mak up o te ing a c f a’ quickly becomes ‘Making a cup of tea’. How refreshing. Especially if you’re a bored commuter waiting for a train on the London Underground. It’s nice to be treated with respect and credited with some intelligence for once. Rather than the usual condescending garbage. Surely this is the one poster you’re actually going to remember.

The different sections of the composition balance nicely and the type looks pretty good (you can get away with tracking-out condensed sans caps I reckon). And I love the confidence to chop up the logo.

The photographic style is appropriately mundane for the subject matter. And the art director has cleverly used depth of field in the picture to help keep the yellow body copy legible. Also note that the pink shade of the panels has been sampled from the photo. A neat trick to help make all the colours balance in a layout.

And when your layout has ‘graphic glue’ as strong as slicing it up and rearranging the sections, you don’t necessarily need a consistent typeface for branding. That’s why the other posters in this campaign all had different headline typefaces, keeping the work fresh and interesting. Branding agencies take note. Don’t be so boring. Loosen the shackles please.

I really don’t have a whole lot more to add on this one. Other than to recommend you use it as an example, the next time you find your account person, planner, client or indeed executive creative director a little bit mixed up about the potential of posters.

Paul Belford is the founder of advertising, graphic design and digital agency Paul Belford Ltd, based in London. He tweets from @belford_paul. His work can be seen at paulbelford.com

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