Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Paint the World Red

Today, Angelenos could look up at the Hollywood Sign with an additional unit of pride, for the sign’s restoration was completed and its renewed state was unveiled. I say this knowing that from where most people live, they could not actually tell that the paint on the letters was peeling in the first place much less recently fixed, nor would many of known about the sign restoration unless Mario Lopez had tacked it onto the end of Extra, and he would have only done that because the C-lister who was supposed to appear got run down by the trolley at The Grove. And really, when you talk about the Hollywood Sign being restored, you have to overlook the fact that this project didn’t include the reinstallation of the “L-A-N-D” that once appeared at the end. I suppose everyone’s over that. But whatever, they redid the most easily recognized landmark in Los Angeles.

I accidentally got a look at the restoration project a few weeks ago when I hiked up there with Nate and a vagrant we met. Here’s a photo:


I realize it doesn’t show the most important part of the sign — that being any part of the sign itself — but that’s because we’d actually hiked above it. Below the ridge you see behind us, a chain link fence separated us yokels from the sign itself, and as if to compound the indignity of it all, the letters appeared backwards because we were standing behind them. Once done scoffing, we noticed the banners identifying the company that had sponsored much of the restoration: Sherwin-Williams. The banner had the logo. It looked like this:


Isn’t that… creepy? It looks like a some sinister twist a protestor would put on the actual Sherwin-Williams logo at some anti-paint demonstration. I mean, sure — any fool with an Icee stand can tell you that red and blue make for an eye-crabbing pair of colors, but when I see the color red dripping like that, I see blood. And if any company should have foreseen this potential association, shouldn’t a paint company be it? Even if I strain to just see red paint and not a crashing tide of human suffering, the idea of coating the earth in it still seems like it would end all life.

And then the slogan “Cover the Earth” — at worst, that sounds like a command the alien queen gives her army, and at best, it sounds like something a prude would tell the planet if her South America were showing (which it is). Fast Company design writer Rick Barrack agrees that the slogan smacks of ill omen, and he suggests “Color Your World” as a substitute that essentially means the same thing without sounding scary. And The Stranger can’t extricate it logo from oil spills. So clearly I’m not alone in finding the Sherwin-Williams logo odd, but how can it be that no one at Sherwin-Williams has suggested that they revise the logo to evoke something other than a world domination plot by a Roger Moore-era Bond villain.

… Right?

3 comments:

  1. I went to school with the scion of a rival paint company. He assured me, straight-faced, that the Sherwin-Williams logo was an obvious message about SWP's international communist agenda. Why, "SWP" could stand for Socialist Workers' Party!

    This turns out to be a popular and extremely long-lived theory: http://www.alt-country.org/Thread.aspx?ID=2556504

    And completely fallacious, of course.

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    Replies
    1. That's wild. Did this, perhaps, inspire you interest in brand identity?

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  2. I've been interested in brands since I could walk and talk. The encounter with Mr. Paint Jr. was just one more nudge in the general direction.

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