If Don Draper had a better sense of humor and wasn’t so busy suffering existential crises whilst being handsome/drunk*, he probably would’ve wanted to hire Lisa Hanawalt. Because in a time when even companies themselves are engaging in bouts of self-mockery in order to entice disillusioned customers by making them laugh, Hanawalt’s delightful doodles of alternate slogans are about a million percent better than what’s out there. And by better I mean, way more hilarious.
Consumerist had a few questions for the NYC-based artist about what made her start sinking her teeth into the familiar brands we all know and love/loathe, and what these companies can learn from a bit of gentle ribbing. If you’re picking up what she’s putting down (and you’re a joyless sort if you don’t), be sure to check out Hanawalt’s Tumblr for more, as well as her new book, My Dirty Dumb Eyes.
Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to start doodling company logos?
I was doing my usual thing of fretting about all the things I needed to get done when suddenly the Nike slogan popped into my head “Just Do It.” And that made me start thinking about how deeply embedded slogans are and how I’ve been so thoroughly exposed to it for most of my life. And the involuntary nature of that is both awe-inspiring and frustrating.
How do you decide which companies to draw?
It’s a combination of picking whatever companies I have funny ideas for and also trying to mess with the biggest, most notorious, and most in-your-face brands.
Are there specific messages you’re trying to expose or draw out about slogans?
I think slogans are funny because they’re so meticulously worded, yet are incredibly vague and simplified. They make less and less sense the more you repeat them. I’m lovin’ it. I’m lovin’ it. I’m lovin’ it? Some ad executive made a hundred thousand dollars deciding to abbreviate the word “loving” because he/she decided it would sell more burgers, and he/she was probably right.
Are you trying to express a viewpoint or just make people think and ultimately join the discussion?
I’m not starting some big movement, slogans are here to stay. But it’s good for consumers to be aware of them and want to talk back. When I read a slogan, I can’t help but interpret it as a company telling me I’m stupid.
What do you hope to achieve?
I started doing this to entertain myself, so I just hope other people find it funny as well. Messing with brand recognition and advertising is a tradition.
Will you keep doing these drawings or is this just a brief project?
I’ll keep drawing them until they no longer feel fresh and funny. That’s my approach for every project.
Have any companies approached you about your work? Maybe someone would be interested in hiring you.
McDonald’s followed me on Twitter, but no companies have directly responded to my slogan suggestions yet.
What do you think about sloganeering — are these companies succeeding or, as seen by your work, are their messages outdated or ill-conceived?
At best, slogans are an effective way to worm your way into a consumer’s head. They’re the written word version of a jingle. I have to admire them for that, for using language so effectively, but of course they’re also insipid and disingenuous and taking up space in people’s brains against their will. So they should be made fun of and trolled at every opportunity.
*He would also have to be a real person living today and not a fictional character on the 1960s’ era show Mad Men. Disclaimer here because I know, I know, not everyone watches the same TV I do.