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See Something, Say Something: NYC Condoms

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You might have noticed the posters plastered throughout subway cars these past months: The City of New York wants you to “get some”—and get it safely. Over 4 million NYC condoms have been dispensed since February, when designer Yves Béhar gave last year’s subway-inspired prophylactic wrapper a makeover. But is the new look, and the city’s rollout campaign, sexy enough? Six design experts gave mixed reviews.

1. PAULA SCHER, partner, Pentagram
The type they use, Gotham, is the same one Barack Obama is using. It’s one of those workhorse typefaces that are easy and don’t signal anything more than information. The logo is given this nice, friendly round shape. It alludes to what a condom is, and romances the form. There are basically three condoms around the letters NYC.

2. ROB GIAMPIETRO, principal, Giampietro+Smith
It’s a little cheesy. It could have been very iconic, but clients with a big budget to roll out a public-health campaign have a hard time being simplistic. This makes me think of my third birthday party. It doesn’t treat me like an adult who has a sex life.

3. CHIP KIDD, graphic designer
First of all, “Get some condom” is grammatically incorrect. Would it kill them to put an s on the end? And the scrawled handwriting is almost as if someone said, “NYC condom” and someone else defaced it. Which I don’t think is a great message to send.

4. ALICE TWEMLOW, professor, School of Visual Arts
I’m just glad that any ideas to use skyscrapers or other phallic urban elements never got off the drawing board.

5. STEVEN HELLER, professor, School of Visual Arts
When you look at Trojans or Ramseses, they look like they belong in a drugstore. This reads less medicinal, more like candy. It looks very edible, and if I needed one, I would pull it out of the dispenser.

6. BRIAN COLLINS, Chairman, COLLINS:
The type and colors make an oblique reference to the city subway, which is a smart evolution from what they did before. They’ve made it more poetic and suggestive, so it doesn’t look like a subway pass in my pocket.


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