A few years ago I began noticing a trend in print advertising: the intentional deletion of a word or words. (Original post here; more examples here.) The trend turns out to have staying power, as several recent examples demonstrate.
Working with design agency Pentagram, the venture capital firm First Round recently updated its logo, website, and print collateral. Shown here are two examples of what the design-critique blog Brand New called “poster kind of things” that were created for the relaunch.
The strikeouts appear to say “We don’t do that, we do this.”
Hofstra University, on Long Island, uses the strikeout to suggest something about destiny being preferable to desire (I think).
Full-page ad (New York Times): “What I want I’m meant to be.”
To illustrate a story about the Republican Party’s “reformicons,” the New York Times Sunday Magazine produced a cover that could read either as a nearly completed to-do list or a record of vacillation.
“The Party of Family Values Tax Cuts National Security Reform?”
Here’s how the Times’s 6th Floor blog explained the design:
‘‘Sometimes language is the strongest way to convey an idea,’’ says Gail Bichler, the magazine’s art director. That’s her explanation for why Sam Tanenhaus’s article about the Republican Party’s identity crisis was given a typographic treatment on the cover this week.
Bichler started by picking out words from the article that had been previously associated with the G.O.P., then played with scale and spacing until the whole felt ‘‘punchy and bold.’’ Originally she used vector lines to strike through the G.O.P.’s discarded ideas — the article focuses on the so-called reformicons, who are trying to move the party away from its obstructionist identity — but she soon realized that hand-drawn lines had more energy.
Hand-drawn lines may have more energy, but HP, whose latest tagline is “Make It Matter,” takes a more precisely engineered approach to crossing out the “un” in “uncertain.”
Full-page ad, New York Times, July 10: “The future is uncertain.” Cropped out at the top: a banner reading “An open conversation about shifts in the x86 server market.”
I’ve come to think of this deletion phenomenon as “Schrödinger’s ads.” Like the famous thought experiment involving a cat that may be both alive and dead, these blue-penciled statements have it both ways: thesis and antithesis, error and correction, covering all the bases while also striking out. Are they a reflection of some deeper cultural ambivalence? Yes No Maybe.
UPDATE: Commenter Tanita suggests another example, the cover of the July/August issue of Foreign Policy.