Author: Wade Johnston

I'm a designer living and working in the Kansas City area. I'm into art, design, music, food, adult beverages, auto racing, architecture and more.

Jones Knowles Ritchie Burger King Rebrand

When you are asked to rebrand any company or organization it is not something that can be executed quickly. There is quite a bit of strategy that goes into the process, especially when you are rebranding a higher profile, internationally known company. Jones Knowles Ritchie was charged with rebranding Burger King and I have to say the results are fantastic. Everything from billboards to employee uniforms has a distinct and cohesive flair that, in my opinion, gives a nod to the design styling of the late 1970s.

From a strategic point, JKR in collaboration with Burger King set out together to bring to life what Burger King’s commitment is to the food, free from colors, preservatives, and flavors from artificial sources. They wanted to use design to help close the gap between the negative perceptions a lot of people have of fast food, and the positive reality of Burger King’s food story by making the brand feel less synthetic, artificial, cheap, and more real. To put it simply, JKR makes the Burger King Brand and the food even more crave-able.

The typography, illustrations, color pallet, copy-writing, all of it has a strong cohesive voice that differentiates itself from the competition. What will be interesting to see is if Burger King continues to use any of their past advertising that focused on the King and had at times an almost surreal approach in terms of content. In the past, Burger King has been known for off-the-wall campaigns like Subservient Chicken. This is light-years away from that approach.

For Burger King’s first global rebrand in more than two decades, we set out to make the brand feel less synthetic and artificial, and more real, crave-able, and tasty. We were inspired by the brand’s original logo and how it has grown to have an iconic place in culture. The new logo pays homage to the brand’s heritage with a refined design that’s confident, simple, and fun.

JKR Global

Cinta from Lumicast Set My Heart Aflame

I get a lot of email promotions from various companies over the course of the week. Most of them get ignored but every once in a while something rolls into my inbox that gets my attention and makes me stop and take notice for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s the actual design of the email itself, sometimes it’s the product, sometimes it’s a combination of both. So today when I was looking through the folder I’ve set up to collect solicitations from vendors that haven’t been flagged as spam I came across an email for the Cinta firepit from Lumicast, a California-based company that is making architectural cast concrete fire pits.

Most fire pits are rustic block cast stone rings or steel bowls for holding logs. The other common option is table style burners powered by propane. Cinta, on the other hand, is an elegant canyon of cast concrete with a unique form articulated by the axial parametric ribbons, that cradle the flames within a vessel of digitally sculpted terrain.

This hand made item is available in limited production at a cost of $15,000.00, so all of my well healed friends with the means I implore you to consider picking one of these up for your outdoor leisure and entertaining activities. Just look at it. If I had the cash, and the space, this would definitely end up warming me on cool nights as I lounge on my patio.

As I spent some time on the Lumicast site I was impressed not only with the quality of their designs but in the manufacturing process that uses 25% recycled materials to make our products more sustainable and is more environmentally friendly while producing a product designed to last a lifetime.

On The Beach “Someday” with Iggy Pop

The first time I saw Iggy Pop preform was at the Lawrence Opera House in Lawrence Kansas sometime around 1980. What I remember from that show was Iggy’s intensity and his I don’t give a damn about anything attitude.

Fast forward 40 years and we now have the godfather of punk rock narrating a two-minute monologue on what 2020 brought to us and what we have to look forward to. Iggy’s distinctive gravelly voice overlays a scene of people running along the beach looking forward to brighter, better days ahead. The monologue relives all of the insanity that surrounded everything in 2020. Stockpiling toilet paper, washing your hand 100 times a day, working from home, remember to wear your mask, giving up eating out, and on and on. Iggy ends it on a lighter note though reminding us that the beach will be ready and waiting when we are all able to take that much needed vacation again.

“We got angry, we got sad, we cried. But we picked ourselves up and we started again, knowing that the sun is always shining somewhere,” he says. “At some point someday you’ll be on your dream holiday, thinking ‘Is it too early for a drink?’” 

The spot is set to an orchestral interlude from the track Sunday, off of Iggy’s latest album Post-Pop Depression. Directed by Uncommon Creative’s executive creative director Sam Walker with Pulse Films it first aired on ITV’s Britan’s Got Talent and will run through February. In addition to the spot, there are the obligatory social media campaigns and a partnership with Amazon Prime.

“This will pass. Sometimes it takes the perspective of someone who has seen a lot in their life to make you realize that. Your shoulders drop, and hope returns,” Iggy says as the spot opens. A statement that Iggy can attest to because he’s seen more than his fair share thanks to 50 plus years of his rock and roll lifestyle.

“Never mind the worst week of someone’s life, what about a year in the life of the UK? We wanted to say it like it is, so we needed a voice that has seen it all. Two minutes in Iggy’s company can make anyone feel better, hopefully, everyone.” Uncommon co-founder Nils Leonard said. And he’s right.

KFC Gaming and the KFConsole is Brilliant Marketing.

Over the last couple of days, the internet and mainstream media have blown up over the new Kentucky Fried Chicken gaming console that dropped earlier this week. People are baffled by it and in many cases are playing it off as an absurd joke. The reality is, that the new gaming console is part of an ongoing campaign that reaches back a full two years. If you head over to YouTube and search for KFC Gaming you will see the first video was published two years back and since then KFC Gaming has produced and released a total of 47 videos over this period of time. In fact, the gaming console was actually introduced on the KFC Gaming channel 6 months ago with a release date of 11/12/2020 which they apparently missed.

This is all part of an ongoing ccampaign strategically designed to attract a younger audience through a series of goofball promotions. If you go back and look at any of the videos over the last two years you will see a very specific theme. There is an entire section featuring a guy wearing a KFC bucket on his head and reviewing video games. KFC has managed to gain 21,000 subscribers to the channel, and the videos have racked up a fair amount of views considering the limited amount of promotion that has been put behind this.

The gaming console however is the big winner here. The video has 294,000 views, and it’s been picked up by everything from the Today show, to very specific gamer blogs and vlogs. KFC and their agency of record have managed to create the kind of viral buzz marketers dream of through some clever positioning, savvy media buys, and by partnering with a manufacturer that has created what appears to be an actual functional gaming console for them. (I’m pretty sure it’s all smoke and mirrors but the landing page is pretty impressive)

Yes, this thing actually plays games. KFC teamed up with computer cooling brand Cooler Master to manufacture the console with some serious gaming specs. The console is capable of running “the latest titles in stunning 4k, 240fps”. With Asus-powered graphics and an Intel Nuc 9 chip, it seems the KFConsole is essentially a glorified gaming PC. Which heats chicken.

In addition to gaming, it features the “worlds-first” built-in chicken chamber “that uses the system’s natural heat and airflow system you can now focus on your gameplay and enjoy hot, crispy chicken between rounds.” Sounds like a game-changer to us.

This is just one more extension of some of the other campaigns that KFC has run in the last few years. Along with the landing page, there is an impressive social media campaign they have rolled out on Twitter Instagram, and Facebook all of which have been designed to promote the brand amongst a very specific target audience. You have to admit, as goofy as this is, it worked. KFC got the word out and generated a lot of chatter which is what good advertising and marketing are supposed to do. KFC knows the ridiculous nature of all of this and is willing to play it up if there is a chance that they might expand their base and get some fried chicken converts in the process.

I would have loved to have been at the pitch meeting for KFC Gaming 2 years back. Can you even imagine how that went down, how they sold this concept to executive management?