Show: Unmissable Manchester, created by m-four and creatively led by Rich Edwards and Chris Jennings. Identity created to support city wide events, incorporated into an outdoor advertising campaign, brochures and on and offline advertising.
Tell: “Although we are the council’s in house creative agency, the first step in the Unmissable campaign was actually a competitive pitch to our colleagues in the events team. This kind of work had traditionally been commissioned from agencies like Love Creative or Dinosaur, so it would take a shift in the organisation’s thinking to bring it in house and us to demonstrate our ability to compete with such renowned companies. There’s a stigma, not unique to public sector organisations that nothing cool comes from in house teams.
“Working towards the pitch, our creative thoughts flowed from the simple message: You can’t afford to miss these events. The history of Manchester, and particularly the Factory records era played on my mind. From there we toyed with a few ideas before we sketched the first version of the eye with the matchstick and we’re really proud of the fact that the idea didn’t deviate from that moment onwards, staying the same through the pitch all the way to final execution. Taking Michael Wolff’s advice that going into a pitch with three ideas only serves to make you appear unsure, we went into the pitch with the eye motif on t-shirts, badges and print proofs. After twenty minutes of conversation we were being asked how soon we could make it happen.
“Having a copy of the Ministry of Information’s ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster in the office influenced the sober, conservative approach to the typography. My style of design is very direct and bold, influenced by Josef Müller-Brockmann, so it naturally became quite minimal and to the point. I love the fact that the six-sheet poster appears resolute up to a point before you get to the eye, which is actually quite cringeworthy.
“The reaction has been typically ‘Marmite’, with lots of people asking for copies and others not taking to it, but we loved both reactions because it meant it would be seen and remembered. Peter Saville, the city’s creative director, looked over the work and said: ‘I’m not sure’, which was disappointing for a moment before he clarified that he loved the design, but just wasn’t sure about sticking a matchstick in his eye. That was enough for me.
“Our Creative Director Ian Smith was behind us all the way on this project. Ian has been influential in all of my designs and illustrations and I owe credit to him for the success of my work.”
Words: Chris Jennings
Info: m-four is Manchester City Council’s full service in-house communications agency. Chris Jennings is a Graphic Designer and has been with the agency for 2 years since graduating from Liverpool School of Art & Design in 2008.
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