Home > Marketing, Work > What I Learned from the Arnell Design Brief

What I Learned from the Arnell Design Brief

February 12, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments







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OK, I am officially never going to worry again — ever — that the presentations I write are too high-concept or academic.  Thanks to my esteemed colleague Lee, I had a chance to behold the joy that is the Peter Arnell “Breathtaking” Design Brief for the Pepsi rebranding. (Check it out here.)  This feels ever so slightly…high-concept and academic. 

I’m inspired to try a new torture test — would any presentation I write hold up to ridicule if exposed online? It’s fine to be smart and provocative (and yes, sometimes strategic explication requires sophisticated diagramming and fancy-pants words), but a person can go too far.  

All that said, I am a big admirer of much of Peter Arnell’s work.  He is among many other things the man who gave us the iconic DKNY billboard that graced the Soho landscape for nearly two decades (see below).  I was an assistant in Donna Karan’s office at that time (now there’s fodder for blog posts) and truly loved my work.  I was 24 with my first Big City Job, working in the epicenter of this crazy company just beginning to explode with growth, serving a woman who can credibly be called one of the design geniuses of our time — and this billboard made me burst with pride every time I saw it. 

It  never felt like advertising.  It was like Donna and Peter’s love letter to the city.  For that alone I’d forgive Arnell the Pepsi/Golden Ratio/Mona Lisa silliness. 

DKNY at 600 Houston Street, R.I.P.

DKNY at 600 Houston Street, R.I.P.

 Image via.

  1. Lee
    February 12, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    You know I never knew that DKNY billboard was thanks to Arnell. Some of their work definitely doesn’t hold up to the torture test, but some has been brilliant and really different. That billboard is a great example of a really iconic execution.

    I still wonder if that design brief was a viral leak…

  2. ssmirnov
    February 13, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I wonder too. But why? Peter Arnell doesn’t need any more industry buzz than he’s already got? Disgruntled Arnell employee, maybe?
    I remember really well Peter and his crew coming in for mtgs with DOnna back in the day — he was huge back then, three times as heavy as he is now — I remember being in and out of her office during the meetings (black parsons table, white carpet, mirrored walls, casablanca lillies!) and they’d be spread out all over her floor looking at creative. I had never seen advertising people before, I figured all of them wore head to toe black and conducted their work sitting on their floor!

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