Why Comic Sans was created

Campaign spoke with its creator and discovered Comic Sans has been used in some surprising places.

Why Comic Sans was created

Dave Trott

Most read: Dave Trott on content

In this week's column, Dave Trott relates his experience of "a roundtable discussion with a dozen of the most senior people in the ad business" where they discussed the future of content.

It led Trott to the realise "the delivery system must now come before the idea, before the 'content'."

And boy, did that ring true.

On Twitter, Alex Micu, the content manager at Karmarama, blamed the media agencies:


BR commentator David Burdon weighed in with:

Dave, very sage like. We've always known about crap content. Crap ads. Crap brochures. Crap PR. Crap sponsorships. Now its just so easy create so much more crap and spread it everywhere. Crap blog posts. Crap tweets. Crap emails. And my latest bugbear, crap LinkedIn posts. How about reintroducing some discipline? Such as only writing on subjects or matters that you know about.


Sean Fleming had a counterpoint:

I wonder if this story actually tells us more about the calibre of the people sat round the table.

Content is a shit word for it, yes; I heard Richard Sambrook talking about that very problem about four years ago.

That some people can't define it just tells us that some people don't actually know what they're talking about.

One can choose to conclude that if enough marcomms folk can't explain a thing the thing is not important... like content.

But I suspect it matters a good deal to the people on the receiving end of it.


Just one more, a bit of bonus content (sorry, couldn't resist) from Trott himself.


There's plenty more views in the comments, as well a few choice bits of word play.

Zaid Al-Zaidy

People moves: Zaid Al-Zaidy leaves McCann

Zaid Al-Zaidy, the chief executive of McCann London, is leaving after two years, Campaign's James Swift reports.

Al-Zaidy said: "I have decided that this is a great moment to play out some of my own ideas and seek a new type of creative opportunity."

Al-Zaidy is stepping down immediately and will be replaced by Alex Lubar, the global chief marketing officer of McCann Worldgroup. He will report to Mark Lund, the UK group chief executive.

Lubar will relocate from New York and start his job in January 2016

In other people moves news, We Are Social has appointed two associate creative directors.


Pitch news: Emirates pushed for Virgin and Arena split

Campaign's Gideon Spanier has an update on this week's news that Virgin Atlantic moved its £12 million media account into PHD, less than a month after appointing Arena to the business.

Arena's decision to part ways with Virgin Atlantic came after pressure from Emirates, sources told Campaign.

Emirates is understood to have expressed concern that Arena was taking on Virgin Atlantic’s £12 million account. Its sister agency Havas Media already handles Emirates’ estimated £100 million business.

Observers said Emirates has a tense relationship with Delta, which holds a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic is said to have been less than impressed that Arena "failed to resolve a conflict issue at the holding-group level".

Arena and Emirates declined to comment.

James Murphy, Adam & Eve/DDB CEO

Careers: How to be a creative agency CEO

Continuing Campaign's series, Adam & Eve/DDB chief executive James Murphy reveals what it takes to sit in the hot seat. In a nutshell, here's how to be successful in the role:

You have to enjoy balancing process and chaos. You need some process – more so as you grow. But when it becomes an end in itself, you kill the energy and joy in a creative organisation. I’m never happier than when the whole thing feels like it’s going at 200mph and might leave the rails. But that’s not everyone’s bag.


And just in case you need to get your foot in the door first, here's Murphy on what he looks when hiring:

Someone with opinions and energy. Agencies, especially larger ones, can become crippled by too much respect for authority. People assume that, because someone is in charge, they know best. This is dangerous. Just because someone schmoozed their way to a corner office or did one Cannes-winning ad back in the 90s doesn’t mean they’re an expert on delivering a seamless social and content campaign to engage distracted millennials. You want people who speak up, who flag up problems so they can be solved. The old hierarchies and egos of adland have stifled this creative energy over the years. Great talent must feel free to be opinionated and contribute – whatever their age, stage or specialism. Many of the best things we’ve done were made brilliant by unexpected contributions from unexpected people.


There's plenty more advice where that came from.

Vincent Connare

Comic Sans: Blame Vincent Connare, type designer

It's a much maligned font, but Campaign spoke with its creator at Wired2015 and found he has no regrets. "People choose Comic Sans because it’s different. It’s not the font you read a book in. It’s looser, friendlier."

But how did the font that's a shibboleth for aesthetes come about? Glad you asked.

It was 1993. I was working at Microsoft ahead of the launch of Windows 95. I was asked what I thought of the fonts in a new programme, Microsoft Bob. In it, a cartoon dog popped up to assist the user, but he was speaking in Times New Roman. I just thought that’s wrong. I have comic books and they don’t talk in Times New Roman – they are handwritten. Using a mouse, I slowly drew letters over and over again to get the weight right. I wanted it to look like a comic book.

Vincent Connare

And there are some surprising places where Comic Sans has been used. "The Spanish engrave their Copa del Rey football trophy in Comic Sans. The Vatican used it when they made a photo album for the last pope. And Cern used it on the presentation to announce they’d found the Higgs boson", Connare revealed.

And if you think Connare was run out of the design industry, think again. He went on to design the Ministry of Sound logo.

Read more from the eyebrow raising interview with Comic Sans creator Vincent Connare.


Compiled by Jonathan Shannon

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