Willoughby Gets ‘Fresh’ with Type Lovers

Ask any creative and they’ll tell you that designers are among the pickiest audiences to impress. So imagine the challenge involved with not only impressing designers but inspiring them? That was the task faced by Willoughby Design when they were approached by Neenah Paper about creating a campaign that would entice designers to create their projects using Neenah’s signature line. What they came up with was “Fresh Takes on CLASSIC Type,” a promotion that uses contemporary typography to demonstrate the versatility of Neenah’s CLASSIC paper.

“Instead of going over the classic typefaces that everyone knows, we wanted to talk about the new classics and show their paper line in a new, fresh way,” says Zack Shubkagel, creative director and partner at Willoughby. In the process, they proved that the right paper and type have the power to be a designer’s dream.

An Ode to Paper
The Neenah campaign had a cross-media appeal, consisting of a book, paper promotions and video to spread the word. One of the first steps was determining which typefaces to include in the project.

“Typographers are doing some real cool things whether they’re doing open source to share their typography around the world or using algorithms to design more complicated typefaces,” he explains.

In collaboration with writer Alyson Kuhn, Willoughby designed six spreads that capture how the digital and analog worlds are united in an unlimited possibility of expression.

“What you see in this book are a selection of new examples of typography that have been influenced by the digital era,” Shubkagel says. “These typefaces demonstrate how designers are blurring the lines between pixels and print.”

Various typefaces were selected to represent the “new classics,” including those created by Jessica Hische, Matthew Carter, Erik Spiekermann, Luke Lisi, Nicole and Petra Kapitza and Mika Mischler.

They also wanted designers to imagine all of the possibilities when it came to the various paper promotions they could create.

“If you look at a lot of paper promotions, almost every trick has been done at some point,” Shubkagel says. “We wanted each of these to be something interactive, tactile and something you can play with.” For example, a coffee cup sleeve with the words “Dotting My Eyes and Croissant My Teas” showcases the type on paper while providing a tangible use for a caffeine-ready audience.


For the Love of Video
Since Neenah only printed 15,000 books, they needed a way to share the concept with an even broader audience.

“Video is great because you don’t have to have a book in hand to see how it works. Still photos only do so much. So we worked with a videographer in Kansas City to help animate our story,” Shubkagel says.

When producing the video, “we needed to make a fun visual story that made you smile and made you see, for example, how giftwrap wraps around the box and how things move around. In the end, we said, ‘let’s just show off the book and the fun things you can do with it.’ ”

Shubkagel’s favorite part of the campaign was “just thinking through who we were going to put into the book,” he says. “We started off with a list of 50 different typefaces and designers and typographers, and we wanted to hone it into a story where we were representing typography today.”

The finished product has more than lived up to expectations. “We’re getting great feedback from Neenah. They’re very happy with the promotion and how it’s showcasing their paper,” he says.

And the response from that pickiest crowd hasn’t been so bad either, he adds. “We’re getting great compliments from designers.”

Now that’s something to type home about.


Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

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