Box Vox

packaging as content

December 11, 2012

People are Brands: It’s All Good

This is sort of a follow up to an earlier 2008 post featuring people wrapped in plastic.

At the time that these 1950’s ads for DuPont Cellophane came out, they were just meant to be cute. I think what they were going for here —apart from the one small, apparently overlooked risk of suffocation— was a way of humanizing cellophane by bringing it into the family.

In retrospect, ads likes this also seem to have foreshadowed the concept of “personal branding.”

As a designer of packaging, I know I’m supposed to be all about the branding. And to a large extent, I suppose I am. But about becoming a brand, personally, I cannot capitulate quite as enthusiastically as some people do.

Anyone who is still cheerfully exclaiming that now “people are brands, themselves” (and denies noticing that there might be anything wrong in this), well, I personally wouldn’t trust them. Any more than I would trust the plutocrat who declares “Corporations are people too, my friend.” Both of these ideas are really two sides of the same coin.

As with Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” speech in Wall Street, the assertion that people are (or ought to be) more like “brands” may have once seemed like a harsh but bracing astringent. Hearing it now, it sounds more like a dull, self-fulfilling cliché.


Three out of four vintage ads above are via: The Ethical Adman

See also: Olin Cellophane, I Love you, Women’s Designer Packs! and Packaging Goodness