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We met Jed Miller, who was the ACLU's Director of Internet Programs, over dinner. He told us about a case the ACLU was bringing against the US government that dealt with ideological exclusion. We were intrigued. The ensuing creative brainstorming session led to the ACLU hiring us to do the creative direction, design and development of a site dedicated to educating the public about the case.
The story is woven together by the individual experiences of various renowned literary, political, and artistic personalities who were denied entry visas to the US because of their political beliefs. Visually, we wanted the experience of interacting with the site to connect to the moment in time when these personalities were refused entry. We decided to use passports as the vehicle for telling the stories of their ideological exclusion.
The passports we designed drew reference from authentic passports of various time periods, mimicking, but not replicating, the originals. We designed unique documents for each member of our cast - John Lennon, Doris Lessing, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Nelson Mandela to name a few. It was a dream project.
Seeing it come to life was a blast. The animated mini-site allows visitors to select a passport from a pile scattered on a table. Once the visitor selects a personality they can open the passport and read about each case. We dramatized and concluded the experience by stamping each passport with the denial of entry stamp.
It was one of those rare ideas that was so immediately right for the assignment that it didn't need to be turned over too much. It got everyone excited from the very beginning. We loved researching and recreating the intricate look and feel of passports and then making them come alive. From an intellectual standpoint it was super gratifying to see how people interacted with the site. It remains one of the most popular projects in our portfolio. Without requiring much explanation, it delivers a powerful slice of American history embedded in a piece of social commentary.
Through our work on the ideological exclusion project, Jed introduced us to his friend and colleague, Alison Walker, who had been leading and building her own program for the ACLU called Rights/Camera/Action (RCA). Allison's new program was in dire need of branding, promotional material, and a web presence to inspire participation from both Hollywood and the legal crowd.
Armed with the understanding of how influential the entertainment industry is in shaping public opinion, the program leverages pop culture as a platform for discussion. RCA promotes events such as poetry readings, film screenings and panel discussions in which high profile entertainers address civil rights issues with the intention of building platforms to engage in dialogue. The goal is to inform and excite audiences, as well as empower them with the resources to learn, change, and take action.
As with any extensive branding project, we explored the mark first. We loved the name, which cleverly communicates the relationship between the entertainment industry and civil rights issues. The use of the clapboard as a motif for the identity was our first instinct. The trick was to simultaneously capture the literal connection to Hollywood and infuse the identity with the bold visual language of political activism. The mark became the pivotal asset for creating the supporting materials.
We extended the brand through a marketing brochure, a labor of love for us all. Diagonal lines moved from vertical to horizontal thorough the spreads to mimic the motion of the new logo. Alison wanted the final piece to be slick enough to impress the Hollywood crowd, so there was some room in the printing budget to play with fun paper, printing details and binding possibilities. The final piece incorporates transparent overlays, white foil stamping and glossy spot varnishes. It's a show stopper.
Once the brochure went to press we worked on developing the look and feel for the program's website, developed poster designs, and created event collateral templates so future edits could be taken care of by in-house designers.
Ideological Exclusion and Rights/Camera/Action were both about educating the public and establishing new platforms to discuss some of the most pressing civil rights issues affecting our generation. We hope that, through these pieces, we've helped to inspire dialogue, participation and action.