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Nick Asbury on Tunnocks

~ While Alistair is away cycling the length of Great Britain, we've invited twenty disgustingly talented people to each write a post for our blog. Today's post is from really-rather-good freelance copywriter Nick Asbury. ~

This is a post about one of the great designers of the last century, whose work helped build one of the best-loved confectionery brands in the world: Tunnock’s.

First, some background.

Tunnock’s have played a big part in my life this year.

It started when someone tweeted about a poem Ted Hughes wrote on a Tunnock’s wrapper back in 1986. It’s now on display in the University of St Andrews, home of the Tunnock’s Appreciation Society (yes, there is one).

This led me to set up an online project called WrapperRhymes, full of poems written on wrappers. Greig Anderson of Effektive Studio created the identity and website. We’re open for submissions if you’re interested.

Later, I stumbled across another example of Tunnock’s-inspired art, this time of the visual kind. It’s an exhibition that took place in Glasgow last year, and it’s quite lovely:

Above: Greyfriar's Bobby, by Joy Bain

Above: Mr Tunnock, by Callum Thom

Above: More cake? by Fiona Watson

What’s fascinating about all this is that the art takes its cue from the Tunnock’s packaging, rather than the product itself.

Largely unchanged since the 1950s, the wrappers have been key to the brand’s success. It’s not just that they’ve gained a retro appeal over the years. The point is that they were beautiful in the first place, and no one has messed around or ‘refreshed’ them since.

So who designed the Tunnock’s packaging? The packaging that has inspired great art and poems by Poet Laureates? Once again, it’s the work of the most prolific designer in the business – Anonymous.

It’s strange how a lot of the best design work slips out there unattributed and unheralded and is only properly appreciated years later. I’ve read just about every article I can find on Tunnock’s and there’s no mention of any name.

Pause a while and think on that when you’re designing your next logo.

Then have a teacake to cheer yourself up.

[Images from Glasgow Art Exhibition are copyright Glasgow Print Studio]


~ Alistair is raising money for Cancer Research UK during his ride - please wander over to his Just Giving page and donate a little cash. ~

posted: 12 September 2011
categories: Art | Graphics
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