Have you ever seen an ‘I ♥ NY’ hoodie or tee shirt? Stupid question, of course you have. But do you know the story behind this iconic design? No? Well let us tell you a story…
Today The Big Apple’s logo is as synonymous with the city as Central Park, Theatre, Shopping and the Empire State Building, but the ‘I Love New York’ logo (its official name) is now some 47 years old and dates back to a time when the city wasn’t quite the friendly, cosmopolitan metropolis we know today.
New York struggled massively in the 1970s – unimaginable as that might be today. Tourism fell to an all-time low in the wake of bad press about the city’s problems. In 1975 the then US president, Gerald Ford, denied federal assistance when the city faced bankruptcy, and in 1977 there were rolling blackouts and large-scale looting which lead to over 4,500 arrests. In short the streets resembled Gotham without Batman, and something had to be done.
The New York State Department for Economic Development headed to the 60s stronghold of the ad men of Madison Avenue, enlisting the help of ad agency Wells Rich Greene to create a campaign that would bring a change to the city’s fortunes and give it a tourist-friendly face once again. And so the I Love New York campaign was born.
With a song, strapline and advertising campaign sorted, it was just the logo that was missing – which is where Milton Glaser enters the scene. A man with a reputation, on the first meeting with Wells Rich Greene (the story goes), Glaser took a crumpled bit of paper from his pocket that he’d been doodling on in the cab there and low an behold, the concept of the universally recognised logo was there.
It needed polishing a bit, but after a little work on its design – the typeface used is ‘American Typewriter’, if you’re interested – the logo was in place and the campaign aired.
Nearly half a century later the logo remains unchanged. And whilst it is no longer part of the city’s advertising, it is recognisable across the globe and has generated untold numbers of imitations. The trademark is also still held by the city’s development agency (now called Empire State Development), reputedly earning them millions of dollars every year.
Like many logos, no one could know how iconic I ♥ NY would become, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the next time you design something – whatever it might be for – most of the world’s iconic logos have a story behind them. What is yours going to be?Images courtesy of the New York Museum of Modern Art.
- 20 Aug, 2014
- Louise MacKenzie
- 0 Comments
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