Sunday, August 24, 2008

Doodle bug (me)

So lately I've been seeing a lot of fake doodling in advertisements and it's really starting to annoy me. At first, I thought it was clever. I even felt a fond wave of nostalgia for the doodling that marks our youthful days. I'm to the point now where I'm starting to resent Madison Ave for doing such a bad job of it.

Case in point:

This is an ad for Kellogg's -- its design is like a giant cereal bowl of doodles kids can never escape.

Now compare that with doodles from my 8th grade yearbook:

Clearly, there's no comparison.

I think back on all the doodles I drew and shared with friends (especially Jenn Grill -- now Ritter -- my best friend and co-conspirator in a 7th grade attempt to sketch and make fun of everyone who lived in Coral Springs, FL).

None of my adolescent doodles mentioned a love of Captain Crunch cereal. Most of our sketches came from a place of pure evil; in fact, the capture of one landed me in detention for a week with "Admiral Asshole" (from the doodle pictured above).

Why would advertisers think they could safely mine such a treacherous shaft? I'm guessing it all started with 2004's "Napoleon Dynamite," whose innocent "ligers" were quintessential dork doodles.

Shortly after the surprise success of that movie, I started noticing t-shirts in Delia's, Urban Outfitter's and Alloy catalogs that were close representations of school-inspired doodles (thy muse being Boredom).

Ah, if only they WERE lifted out of actual notes, I might buy one. Nothing compares to the real thing. No advertising exec can match the evil wit of a bored 13-year-old.

And even if they could, it's unlikely that any corporation would want real doodles selling their products ("be a Cokehead like Kate" with someone snorting a can of Coca Cola off a mirror, for instance).

It makes me wonder: At what point do our doodles cease to be creative, clever, evil and fun? My adult doodle life is mostly my name in a cloud of lightning and bubbles. I've observed other adults doodling those lame-ass boxes within boxes (yawn!). It's sad what becomes of our doodling lives as we age. Does anyone do a good job of it over the age of 25?

Of all the nostalgic doodling going on in advertising now, I think JC Penney does it best (their throw-back "Breakfast Club" commercials are dead-on awesome). Check out their cute take on the classic "doodle heart" renderings we've all scratched at one point:

p.s. Incidentally, Molly Ringwald used doodle "product placement" back in 1984's "Sixteen Candles." Her 3-ring binder has "The Rave-Ups" doodled across the back (she was such a fan of the band that they later appeared in "Pretty in Pink" playing in the background of the club scene). Not sure how successful she was since the only people who bought their album were Molly and her sister, Beth.

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