General Mills

Finally a TV Ad That Doesn’t Make Dad Look Like a Complete Idiot.

Over the last decade or so there has been a trend in advertising that for the most part portrays men, father’s, as complete idiots when it comes to handling anything related to fatherhood, marriage, household chores, etc. The ads are supposed to be humorous, and in some cases are, but for the most part the men represented come off like complete fools. The kind of complete fool that makes you ask “Why did that person marry them in the first place?”, and “How the hell does this guy hold down a job if he can’t even figure out how to change a fucking diaper?”. So when Cheerios dropped there new TV spot for peanut butter Cheerios earlier this month I jumped for joy. Why? Because dad isn’t some lazy, ignorant, lame ass, jackwagon.

The new spot which is aimed squarely at dads features a well written script, an actor that knows how to deliver in a light hearted way yet still comes off like someone that has his shit together, and an authoritative male voice that is aimed straight at you. By that I mean the actor never takes his eyes off of the audience as he walks through the spot delivering dialog about how he has it together. Here we have a spot that shows a male figure capable of multitasking. Capable of controlling the situation. Capable. as opposed to the dad staring at the refrigerator wondering where the food comes from while the voice over from his wife plays him as a fool.

In this spot we have dad who is funny without being condescending, or stereotypically macho. Dad can’t control everything, but with a little help from Cheerios, he can. All the characters, especially the father figure come from a place of strength and support. There is a positive message here that runs fully against so much of the messaging in advertising that says, dad can’t do laundry, clean the house, feed the kids, get them to school, make the bed, and yes that is a dominant message in the majority of TV ads. It’s easy, so people use it. This spot however has a socially positive message that I find much easier to take, and much easier to get behind.

So kudos to General Mills and their agency of record for creating a spot that actually features a dad you would want to hang out with.

Design Friday. Eve Zeisel, 104 Years of Living Artistry.

At 104 years old Eva Zeisel is as vibrant and involved in the design world as she was 80 years ago when she began her career in Europe. Known for¬† her work with ceramics, Zeisel declares herself a “maker of useful things”, but her useful things are beautiful to look at and elegant in form.

At age 17 Zeisel entered Kepzomuveszeti Academia (the Budapest Royal Academy of Fine Arts originally studying painting, but switched her field of study to design at the persuasion of her mother to engage in a career path that would be more lucrative in the long run. Zeisel apprenticed herself to the guild of potters and began to learn the craft of fine ceramics. In 1925 she left the Budapest Royal Academy of Fine Arts to work with a master potter in Budapest expanding her skills with ceramics and, her design aesthetic. Zeisel was the first woman to master the craft of ceramic manufacture, and in 1928 she applied for work with a series German ceramic manufacturers.

In mid 1928 Zeisel became the lead designer for the Schramberger Majolikafabrik in Germany where she worked for just over two years creating a range of designs for tea sets, vases, inkwells and other ceramic items. Ziesel’s designs at Schramberg were largely based on geometry and were influenced by the Bauhaus design school in Weimar and later Dessau.

In 1932 Zeisel moved to the Soviet Union to live with her brother, and to work in the ceramics field designing not only ceramic objects for a number of companies, but designing ceramics manufacturing plants as well. in 1936 Zeisel was arrested and held in prison for 16 months, 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement, after being accused of being involved in an assassination attempt against Joseph Stalin. Upon her release, she was deported to Vienna where she met her husband Hans Zeisel. In 1938 she and her husband moved to New York with only 64.00 dollars to their name. Less than two months later, Nazi Germany annexed Austria.

Zeisels career in the United States blossomed in the 1940’s, as she began to design pieces for General Mills, Rosenthal China, and Castellon. In the early 1940’s she taught one of the first courses in industrial design taught at the Pratt Institute, and in 1946 she had her first one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

In the mid 1960’s she retired from commercial design to focus on personal works. This lasted for almost 20 years, until returning to produce designs for Nambe, Chantal, and Klien Reid in the mid 1980’s. She continued to design new works including the famous coffee table that waas produced for her own company Eva Zeisel Originals, and distrbuted by Design Within Reach. Her most current line of dinnerware is named “101” and manufactured by Royal Stafford, sold exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. Zeisel has released two designs in 2010 through EvaZeiselOriginals.com: The Eva Zeisel Lounge Chair, and Eva Zeisel Salt & Pepper Shakers.

Not only do I hope that I make it to 104 years of age, but I hope I am as vibrant, energetic, and still producing art at that age. Her work is masterful, and elegant, working with simple forms and shapes often hinting at more complex forms, that draw from classic design.