Daniela Garza of Anagrama, Joshua Chen of Chen Design Associates, and Mackey Saturday of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv await your work in the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards.
The HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards, which is HOW’s longest-running competition, has seen thousands and thousands of outstanding promo-driven design projects over the years. One such winning project—one that informed, persuaded and filled a need with flying colors—is Baton Rouge-based design firm Xdesign Inc.‘s work for Capitol City Produce.
The project—a campaign for a cocktail creation contest created as a way for the client to showcase their products—was spearheaded by Xdesign Inc. art director Tiffanie Pitre and her team, which includes graphic designer Simone Begneaud, illustrator Vitalija Svencionyte and copywriter Paige Fenerty.
It all came about last year, when Capitol City Produce, an ongoing client of Xdesign’s, came to them with a challenge: Could they expand their service industry clientele? Capitol City Produce offers a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and specialty products that are great for garnishes and craft cocktails, but they felt ignored and under-used by the local, regional service industry. “Our goal was to get their potential customers’ attention, and then get them to be ongoing customers of Capitol City Produce,” Pitre says.
Capitol City Produce was very open to ideas, Pitre adds. “They let us take the reins on this project, and we had a few guidelines and limitations concerning budget and deadlines, but other than that, they were open to reaching their target audience in any relevant way.”
Pitre and her team knew they wanted to get the attention of Gulf South cocktail bars and restaurants, but they also knew they had to do something more than just your typical business-to-business method of promotional flyers and emails. “We wanted the campaign to be tangible and rewarding for mixologists,” Pitre says. “Something they would appreciate.”
The resulting cocktail creation competition, Sprigs & Spirits, kicked off with the celebration of fresh produce, beautiful herbs and the most creatively crafted cocktails throughout the south, while highlighting the commitment to quality and service that Capitol City Produce is known for. “Entrants would have to submit a recipe using at least one ingredient from a pre-approved list and, in turn, would have the chance to win a variety of prizes, including a showcase at the Capitol City Produce booth at the Louisiana Restaurant Show, press releases and even a $750 credit,” Pitre says.
To start this project, the Xdesign team started out brainstorming on a mood board. “We flipped through our favorite cookbooks and cocktail books, looked through our favorite websites and collected our favorite illustrations,” Pitre says. “Our individual research and inspiration-gathering process led to a collective visual theme that was whimsical yet sophisticated.”
The design and the accompanying illustrations had an old-school, 1940s vibe that was both decorative, classy, elegant and sophisticated—whilte also having some comical elements. “We were drawn to a playful, illustrative aesthetic that would bring Sprigs & Spirits to life and pulled inspiration from a variety of influences, including tarot cards, vintage posters and surrealist art,” Pitre says.
The palette was simple and straightforward but also set the bar for the brand’s message—with hues of brown, sepia tones and an-old fashioned look. The ultimate goal was to introduce the competition to regional bars and restaurants and to leave behind a card for sales reps to use as the first touchpoint. “The simple card with just the contest logo and website was dropped off with the promise of something more to come, capturing the intrigue of our target audience of bartenders and managers,” Pitre says. “A few weeks later, these same bartenders and managers received a small box containing a set of six coasters; these two-sided, metallic, screen-printed coasters not only revealed the details of the competition but, when laid next to one another, revealed our Sprigs & Spirits illustration.”
The illustrations were done by Svencionyte, a former employee of Xdesign who brought an incredible whimsical style to the table, one that calls to mind a combination of influences drawn from the iconic H. B. Barnum circus, illustrations by Peter Blake, and Jann Haworth, who co-created The Beatles album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, or even the illustrative works by Monty Python artist Terry Gilliam. “She was able to bring the campaign to life through her unique, creative combinations—strawberries shooting out of cannons, hot air balloons made of fruit, a mini village made of bottles and garnishes,” Pitre says. “The surreal scenes collide and overlap to become a dreamscape of fruits and spirits.”
As one might expect, there were many layers to this project, which gave it a handmade feel. That did lead to more challenges though. “We wanted everything to be handcrafted, which led to a few production issues,” Pitre says. “At one point, we had the entire design team hand-trimming the coasters with X-Acto knives so that they perfectly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.”
In the end, the Sprigs & Spirits campaign was more successful than Xdesign had imagined—with nearly 200 submissions. “Through the competition, Capitol City Produce gained new territory, connected to their target customers and expanded their reach in the service industry,” Pitre says. “We were so happy with the way it turned out.”