2008 Promotion Design Award Winners – Best of Show

Good And Green

By Bryn Mooth

You might think it’s the obvious choice to select a printer’s or paper mill’s promotion as the Best of Show winner in a design competition. But from the first round of judging, Rubber Design’s Treehugger Series promotion for Paragraphics Printing and New Leaf Paper really stood out as a very fresh (and slightly snarky) take on this design staple. So much so that judge Sarah Whitman fretted overnight about whether she’d remembered to mark the entry as a Best of Show contender as she was evaluating entries.

Mark it she did, and it scored the most Best of Show votes from the HOW staff, which annually judges the Promotion Design Awards.

Paper promotions land on our desks here at HOW HQ with the regularity of 747s gliding into LAX. So we’re well familiar with the genre: lavishly produced showpieces that these days tout care for the environment with regal photos of trees and text describing windpower and carbon offsets.

Not the Treehugger Series. A joint promo for the printer and mill, the three books take a U-turn from the norm, with clever copywriting and imagery that mock the gravitas with which most companies hype their greenness. Art director Jacquie Van Keuren notes that both companies have deep commitments to the environment: New Leaf was founded on producing quality, printable recycled paper, and Paragraphics was the first printer in the San Francisco Bay Area to receive FSC certification in 2005. “It’s a big leap to take this lighter approach when no one else is,” Van Keuren says. “It’s safer to look just like the competition, but the rewards are greater when you take the gamble. They listened when we said people are numb to the usual crunchy-granola look.”

While most such jobs come with a comfortable project schedule and lavish budget, Van Keuren says that wasn’t the case here. Paragraphics rep Marco Rodriguez and New Leaf account exec Erin Biegel wanted to produce a joint promo specifically for the AIGA Compost Modern conference in January 2008; they approached Rubber Design in December (with the holidays, the creative team had just a week and a half for concept development and design). In lieu of multiple spot colors and finishes, Paragraphics wanted to show that its four-color hybrid-UV printing (a greener process) is a great-looking and low-cost option.

In addition to the printing and paper demos, the design team added useful information so designers would hang onto the series. “We decided to create something that hopefully wouldn’t end up in a landfill,” Van Keuren says.

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Title Treehugger Series Desk Reference Guides
Design Firm Rubber Design, San Francisco
Art Director Jacquie Van Keuren
Designers Will Yarbrough, Ian Gordon, Jacquie Van Keuren
Illustrator Simon Oxley
Photographer Will Yarbrough
Copywriters Jacquie Van Keuren, Will Yarbrough, Ian Gordon, Parker Channon, Mike Pearl, Devon Dawson
Printer Paragraphics Printing
Clients Paragraphics Printing, New Leaf Paper