Fall 2009. My two designer friends and I decided to continue our one-year tradition of “Make Something Present.” This year, it was going to actually be “make something” (rather than the previous year of everyone specifically making calendars). But I decided to make a calendar anyway because it’s one of those useful things to make and giveaway. This year I wanted to make something more amusing (because I like to amuse myself).
While watching Mad Men, I got inspired by their fake ads and wanted to make my own. So I thought of not only plausible products from that time period, but also how I could incorporate some humor into it (since I love a bit of cheekiness). I took into consideration what housewives, teenagers and kids might buy and narrowed things down to six products:
Mad Cow Burgers: I wanted to create my own little burger joint where teenagers could hang out and eat their burgers and enjoy their milkshakes. So I selected “Mad Cow” as the name of the establishment because it sounded like it could have some sport affiliation and therefore could relate more to an angry cow (rather than a sick cow). (But perhaps the cow is just angry because he's being eaten.)
Tasty Sucker: I just think the word “sucker” is funny. The word itself sounds funny, and moreover it has negative connotations and would likely be avoided in describing a lollipop today.
Candi Doll: Little girls like dolls. Pretty dolls. And add a wedding dress in the mix and you’ve got yourself a winner. I named the doll “Candi” because she’s all sweetness, and I decided that she would be a “wedding edition” doll because it’s really just the wedding the little girls are aiming for (not so much the marriage part).
Apollo Cigarettes: Cigarette ads were prevalent during this time period, and I wanted to create one that was bright and happy and plausible—basically appealing to everyone. I selected “Apollo” as the name for the brand because of the Greek god and his connection to the sun (since the sun gives off light and heat—just like a cigarette). Plus, I think it’s amusing that Apollo’s also associated with healing, and of course, cigarettes do nothing good for your health.
Princess Purge Dishwashing Detergent: Perfect housewives want to keep their hands princess soft, yet purge that grime away. I enjoy the brand name not only for its alliteration, but also because it sounds rather gross.
The Rabid Robots From Outer Space!: I think of the 1950’s/1960’s as a time where space exploration was of great interest. I thought about cheesy space TV shows, and came up with my own. I thought that this action-packed show would appeal to boys. I just think the idea that the robots are rabid is funny because they’re not alive (in the way that animals and humans are) so how can they be rabid?
For the format of the calendar, I decided that each ad would have two months at the bottom of the page, and it would be punched at the top so it could be hung on the wall. As for the layouts of each ad, most of it came about somewhat organically; I drew lots of images and then figured out how they related to each other on the computer.
I’ve tweaked this calendar a few times over the last couple of years. While none of the products have changed, I have redone some of the layouts of the ads (and some more dramatically than others). Yet, the essence of this calendar remains the same and it still makes me smile.