Monday, December 04, 2006

Consumers Challenged To Get Artisitic

It seems that no brand is without it's own customer generated content action these days. Two recent and very similar ideas, but quite different and interesting outcomes are by Penguin Books and Marmite (wikipedia ref: marmite).

Penguin has assembled a series of six classics, each published with a blank cover. The blank cover is made of a special art paper and the idea is that the reader draw or paint their own design on the actual book jacket. Readers designs can then be uploaded to a gallery within the Penguin website. I really like this idea, as book covers are such important design 'canvases', with such limited space and such rich stories that they have to communicate. How do you sum up thousands of words in such a small space? How do you attract a reader to pick up the book and convince them that this is the book they should want to read?

This turns reading a book into something new. Asking people to reflect on the book they have read, and gets them to add their own personal interpretation into the process. Everyone will have such different ideas and interpretations. It makes you wonder is all books should not have their own site where readers could leave their own comments, ideas and opinions about the book.

Penguin have been very important in book jacket design and have created many classic designs. In contrast to the personal nature of this new project, they are also typified by designs that standardised books cover design, such as designs by Jan Tschichold and Romek Marber that helped them become a brand instituion, immediately recognsiable as Penguin books. No doubt, the blank white covers in this series could just render them very visible in the book store and become a strong brand statement, and the challenge of creating the cover is a strong statement in iteself, even if not every reader takes them up on the challenge. The idea will certainly make both Penguin appear, and the reader feel creative.

It is not clear from the site, but one imagines if the best designs may be used to create the covers for these books in the future. View the submitted designs here, the first ones have been created by the staff of Penguin.

The series includes 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', by Oscar Wilde, 'Magic Tales' by The Brothers Grim and 'The Waves?, by Virginia Woolf.

Marmite take a similar approach, but rather than turning their product into the canvas for your art, they propose their product as the 'paint' so to speak. The canvas in this excercise is the piece of warm toast on your breakfast plate, and you use the Marmite to draw out your masterpiece. This is a somewhat more lighthearted scheme, but perhaps will generate more immediately interesting results as the perameters of the resulting 'artworks' are so much more limited.

You can vote for the designs at the specially created site MarmArt, where there is an ongoing daily featured artwork and a top ten as voted for by site visitors.

The resulting 'artworks' should be fun, as it the whole premise of the campaign...and more importantly it is an extremely clever way of reeinforcing the fact that the bottle is a new sqeezy type. I can imagine millions breakfasting British playing with their toast in the morning, and having fun with their marmite. Thing is if you design a masterpiece, will you eat it afterwards?

Check out the Marmite gallery here.

Thanks to Peter for sending me both of these links.