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A Giant, a Fairey and Obama walk into a bar…

ACCORDING TO A POST ON WWW.DESIGNOBSERVER.COM, BARACK OBAMA DID NOT ORIGINALLY LIKE HIS LOGO—a sun rising over a field in the shape of an O, symbolizing hope and opportunity—because he thought it looked too polished and corporate. Not to worry, Obama, there is an underground Fairey spreading HOPE and keeping things real.

The Giant and Fairey Walked in First.
obey.gifKnown for underground propaganda design, Shepard Fairey has been a force in the design and art scene since the late 1980s. His career started with the now famous “André the Giant Has a Posse” street art campaign that was initially distributed by members of the skate culture. Eventually, under pressure from a potential lawsuit with Titan Sports, Inc., Fairey changed the campaign to an abstracted image of the Giant’s face with the words “OBEY.” It has virally grown to be seen, well, everywhere. From street signs to an episode of the Family Guy (where in an effort to help with restoration, Peter repaints the Sistine Chapel ceiling with the image of the Giant), the “OBEY” campaign is the epitome of guerilla marketing.

According to Fairey’s manifesto, the original purpose of the OBEY campaign was to, “stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the campaign and their relationship with their surroundings— because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the motive is not obvious.”

One of his most recent projects is stimulating a lot of talk and questioning, but, this time, his motive is clear.

They saved a seat for Obama.

Fairey states in an interview with Jeff Peer for Creativity magazine, “I think I’m a pretty good judge of character, and my feeling about Barack is he stuck his neck out by being against the war. He always seems to speak his mind whether it’s the popular position or not, and he just seems like he follows what he believes in, which impresses me. So I decided I’d support him and put up my own money to do so. Some people asked me why I don’t wait until he’s got the Democratic nomination, but if you want a candidate to win, why not try your best to ensure he actually gets the nomination?”

Fairey’s recent self-release of “HOPE” posters in support of Obama sold out in minutes and created a wave of support showing up on hoodies, t-shirts, buttons and walls. Diverse musicians like rapper LL Cool J and Scott Ian of the metal band Anthrax have been seen wearing the t-shirt. One of Fairey’s limited edition “HOPE” prints recently sold on eBay for $2,000, with 10% of the proceeds going to Obama’s campaign.

Of course, this has spawned a wave of spoofs too. Also on eBay are “NOPE” stickers as well as other spoofs like those seen below.

So, what did the bartender say? The medium is the message.

Fairey’s “HOPE” campaign has become another excellent example of guerilla marketing where the art and the message are passed along from one person to another, with the effects of compounding exposure. And not so coincidentally, isn’t that one of the main parts of Obama’s platform—coming together in a different way for change? Obama’s message has found a perfect medium which is not always seen in typical political campaigning.

People are inspired by the art and the candidate to the point that they are creating their own spin-offs and passing them along, spreading the message in a way that all the advertising dollars in the world could not buy. This is when design and advertising are at their best–when the message and the medium gel for the greatest possible outcome.

Aside from Fairey’s “HOPE” posters, Obama’s campaign is one of the most sophisticated and well-crafted brands ever in political history, and the first that truly embraces guerilla and viral marketing techniques. In fact, there is a new spinoff to his website that allows people to slightly alter his logo for personal use. The site reads: “That’s what Obama is representing… someone who wants all of us to participate in changing the world. And together, we can make this change, one logo at a time.” (See for yourself

So, it looks like Obama’s logo has grown on him…maybe it just took a Giant and Fairey to help him see the way.

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