There’s been a lot of public debate about inept branding this year - that Olympics thing, the new Wacom identity, Adobe’s bizarre Photoshop logo. Now, as 2007 draws to a close, Popjustice have a good point and laugh at one of the most inept attempts at rebranding I’ve seen in a long time: Zavvi.

What they don’t mention, although it’s apparent throughout, is that those two Vs next to each other look an awful lot like a W. Surely somebody noticed this when they made that stupid word up?

Circus envy

Whilst reading Jeremy Leslie's excellent MagCulture blog (and basically seeing if anyone was responding to a minor rant I'd left on there about Creative Review's recent coverless issue) I clicked another commenter's link and found myself in a beautiful new world: Boicozine.

Michael Bojkowski's design blog is one of the most - no, wait, drop the "one of" - is the most beautiful, well designed blogs I've ever seen. The layout, the use of colour, the type: it's all gorgeous. Oh, and the content is jolly good too.

One day I'll learn how to design webularly (rather than my current method of smacking someone else's CSS repeatedly with a spanner until it does what I want it to) and have a site like this. Or maybe I could sneak into Bojkowski's site in the dead of night and replace all of his content with my own. Hmm …

Popworld Pulp: what the hell went wrong?

Popworld Pulp has been axed after just one week. Despite an initial print run of 130,000, they only managed to sell 9,000. Is this symptomatic of the whole “end of print” thing, with the magazine’s target audience of 16-24 year olds heading to the Internet for their music news? Or did something else go wrong?

As an attempted buyer of Popworld Pulp, I’ll offer my theory: terrible marketing. You could make the best magazine in the world, but if you don’t pay up for an obscene amount of launch publicity then initial sales are guaranteed to be paltry. Titles like Heat and Grazia will be paying off their start-up costs for a long time, but they succesfully positioned themselves in the market and each have a healthy circulation.

I chose to buy the new magazine based on some kind of brand loyalty to the Popworld TV show, rather than the shitty (and solitary) advert I saw. I then popped into Borders and… where was it? With the music magazines? With the teenie magazine? After several laps of the periodicals section I gave up.

Later, I tried two branches of WHSmiths, still no joy. Given that the magazine was essentially invisible on the high street, I’m impressed that as many as 9,000 people managed to buy it! I don’t know if they had distribution problems or if the stockists weren’t sure how to position it, but something went very very wrong.


After an hour of flicking back and forth between The Apprentice and Grand Designs (yes, I'm that target audience) I went over to the usually-terrible ITV to catch the new Ben Elton-Alexa Chung show, Get A Grip.

Now, although Ben Elton is generally seen as being a complete and utter twat these days, we must remember that he was partly responsible for The Young Ones and Blackadder and must therefore be given a chance to make amends for his Lloyd-Webberisation at least once every few years. And Alexa Chung can be rather witty, if a little bit too wry for her own good.

So I watched. To give you an idea of what the show was like, let me start by saying that it successfully lived up to the official blurb:

Each week, Ben and Alexa will be having a look at events taking place in our often bizarre and frequently wonderful world. And once they’ve dissected what’s been going on, they will undoubtedly be shouting ‘Get a Grip!’. With their unique cross-generational take on anything and everything from their specially constructed newsroom, Ben and Alexa will make sure that you never look at the world in the same way again.

Oh dear lord.

Get A Grip is one of the worst things ever made for television, and would actually be just grounds for putting an end to the entire medium. Watching Ben and Alexa reading the autocue at each other while making witty observations like "isn't spam annoying?" was just excruciating.

The thing is, I feel partly responsible. I've met Ben's father, Lewis Elton (a highly respected historian and academic who looks a bit like Yoda) and just a few months ago I saw Ben himself lingering outside his own show, We Will Rock You, looking a bit worried. Maybe I should have said something to Lewis about his son's increasing money-grubbery or maybe I should have just slapped Ben in the face and screamed "STOP IT YOU FOOL! JUST STOP IT! THIS! IS! SPARTA!"

So I'm very sorry. Next time I'll try harder.

Leaving New York

Apparently there's a bit of a hoo-hah over which New York the I ♥ NY actually refers to - the city or the state? On one level it raises an interesting question about where the boundaries of urban and regional identity overlap, and what the "New York" brand actually signifies.

… but on another, more mercenary-tourist level, I don't really care just as long as Amazon send me my long-awaited New York Moleskine next week.