Retail Reviews: Jacob, Metrotown, Reitmans, Please Mum

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Jacob Connexion offers top-notch signage

Figuring out which price tag is associated with which clothing item can be an unnecessarily complicated procedure. I spotted this brilliant signage solution while helping my wife pick out some clothes at Jacob.

Jacob Connexion’s shopping legend

Instead of just broadcasting a meaningless dollar value near a pile of shirts, these signs show you exactly which article of clothing the price is referring to. The clear shot of the product keeps you from having to mess up the nicely folded piles to see what the shirt actually looks like. It saves time, and makes the consumer’s shopping process just a tad more bearable.

Metrotown markets to the android crowd

“The Metropolis at Metrotown” is an uncomfortable name for a mall. The multi-syllabic M-words are reminiscent of similarly-inspired words, like monolithic, monstrosity, and menacing. Metropolis is a word that is connotatively associated with being lost, overwhelmed and isolated within a large city.

That’s exactly why it makes no sense for this mall in Burnaby, BC to be using faceless, featureless mannequins as the central figures of a recent marketing campaign.

The Monolithic, Machinistic Montrosity at Metrotown

As these sleek, silver mannequins go about their shopping duties, their expressionless faces and uninviting surfaces create an immediate sense of coldness. Not only is it an unwelcoming picture, the very concept is insulting. The creators of these ads have effectively compared their valued shoppers to mindless mannequins, repetitive robots, dull drones and androgynous androids. Not impressed, Metrotown.

Reitmans goes from catwalk to sidewalk

Several months ago, Reitmans tried out their new slogan, “Designed for real life,” with a series of strange ads. These posters featured well-dressed women posing unnaturally in kitchens and beside lawnmowers. The signs didn’t make a lot of sense, because the style of dress these ladies were sporting didn’t at all suit the activities they were pretending to carry out. In fact, the shots seemed to contradict the slogan the posters carried; these clothes seemed far too fashionable to wear while being part of “real life.”

So Reitmans went back to the drawing board, and came up with a revised concept that actually works. This time, the poster is split in two. In one frame, the well-dressed woman strides across a dark fashion show catwalk, while in the other, she’s already embracing her real life roles: holding a stop sign as a child crosses the street, plugging a parking meter, etc.

These new posters are finally convincing: the slogan, “Designed for real life,” is easy to believe. By using this clever montage style, the ads manage to show the union of fashion and function in an entertaining manner.

Reitmans designs for real life

Notice how the designer deliberately left the dividing lines where the two photos connect. It was important that the woman herself appear to be split in two and stitched together, otherwise, the posters would have had a similar effect as last time: just a lady posing where she doesn’t belong. Here, because of the designer’s intentional patchwork style, we can see that this woman is not impossibly, magically, unattainably “in two places at the same time” – instead, it’s clear that she has the flexibility to switch venues when she needs. It’s an image we can relate to, and a message that is meaningful to many people. Whether it’s a weave or a website, that’s what it means to design for real life.

Please Mum gives up on the kids, pleases mom instead

Sure, cutesy fonts in glowing primary colours aren’t exactly all the rage right now. The “kindergarten look” is by no means trendy, so we suppose it makes sense that this store, “Please Mum,” wanted to give its identity a bit of an upgrade.

Please Mum used to be recognizable as that brightly coloured clothing store for kids. As of recent days, however, the happy-go-lucky logo has been replaced with a very self-conscious wordmark that is trying very hard to fit in to the trendy shopping mall culture it inhabits.

Please Mum

We feel the new look is nice enough, but it entirely changes the intended meaning of the name. Once it was obvious that “please, mum” was being spoken by the child, begging to visit the store. Now, with its slender, trendy and urban form, the store’s name seems to be more about making mom happy than it is about the kids. Can you imagine if Toys “R” Us were to do the same thing?

(Update: We didn’t actually know that Toys R Us was in the process of rebranding themselves when we wrote this. But as it turns out, our example was more timely than we knew: the new Toys R us brand respects the old look, and still tips the hat to children.)

  • maria

    Jacob,

    horrible women work there. This girl named Kim was so rude and stupid.!

    Never go there. I am advising for her firing.

  • maria

    Jacob,

    Jacob in Metrotown was the worst experience ever! This girl named Kim should be fired.

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    You sound mad! What happened?