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Fighting the backlash – what went wrong for Moleskine?

Sarah Graveling
Sarah Graveling
Creative Director
23 November 2011

I found the recent backlash against Moleskine’s logo design competition really interesting. In case you missed it, along with “designboom”, Moleskine created a competition for aspiring designers to create the logo for their blog “Moleskinerie”.

A shortlist of 100 designs will be chosen by a jury and published, with the final winner announced in December, receiving €5,000 and seeing their design used on the Moleskinerie blog.

However, unfortunately for Moleskine this didn’t go down well amongst the design community, with 400+ comments seen on blogs and the designer community outraged. Moleskin have made various responses, while pledging to continue the competition to honor the entries, but not use the final logo on the blog, so they will also pay a designer to create the final used logo.

However, I fear the damage has been done.

Many brands have created similar competitions, but here are just a couple of the more famous ones to put things in perspective:

EStings Competition
Every year they challenge illustrators and image makers to contribute to the E4 brand by making E4 stings that are shown in between commercial breaks. They have received 100’s of entries over the years, with the 1st Prize winner receiving £2,500.

Red Bull Canimation
Animators can get their animations in front of some of the industry’s finest with a competition to showcase the Red Bull can, with winners gaining prizes such as laptops and internships and will be seen on Channel 4.

E4 particularly has had enormous success from their EStings competitions since 2008, making a huge contribution to the visibility and credibility of the brand. From a designer’s perspective, the amount of man hours involved in designing a logo to an animation must be considerably less, so why the backlash against Moleskine?

Many brands have been commended for rewarding the design community with similar competitions, but maybe it’s the close relationship that Moleskine have with the community that has been their downfall. Other brands are different, but Moleskine should “understand” designers more. Still, the rather generous winnings does acknowledge their value, and would be a great opportunity for a design graduate.

I don’t have the answer, but brands and agencies do need to be careful at the moment. With the rise of competitions and campaigns across Social Media platforms, we all seem to be a little sensitive all of sudden.

As users we have choice and control, but as designers or marketers we shouldn’t come down so hard on brands that are trying to build fans and visibility or even that make mistakes. Especially as we will all learn from them!

Anybody would think they’d done something really outrageous… like put a cat in a bin or something!

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