NY Spends $17 Million on Saatchi 'Clip Art' Logo

Last Updated Nov 14, 2008 11:05 AM EST

parks385_432837a.gifSaatchi & Saatchi has charged New York State $17 million for a clip art squirrel.* New York state is to spend $17 million on a Saatchi & Saatchi campaign featuring what appears to be a clip art squirrel. The move came after the agency was asked to redesign the New York famous "I Love NY" logo, which adorns millions of T-shirts and shopping bags. But the new logo is virtually unchanged from the old one -- save for the addition of a silhouette of a small squirrel and a butterfly, which are meant to suggest that New York has a countryside as well as a city.

According to a NYS spokesperson:

It's pretty brave of us to change a logo that's been around for 31 years.
iheartsnowtm_1_385_432835a.gifWell, not that brave. All that seems to have happened is that Saatchi has found a library of free images such as this one, and snaffled a butterfly and a squirrel from them. Pepsi recently commissioned a new logo from the Arnell Group (which looks suspiciously like an old Diet Pepsi logo, or even the Obama campaign logo) and paid $1 million.

The move (or at least the cost of it) has -- entirely predictably -- sparked outrage. Says the London Times:

Squirrels don't work for me; why spend $17m on a new 'I love NY' logo? Leave the imitations to the copycats.
ilnystakt2c385_432836a.gifTo be fair, the agency also added cartoon snow to another version of the logo -- something we've all done ourselves when we made homemade Xmas cards as children. Which raises the timeless exclamation that society always makes to itself when confronted with overpriced art --"My kid could have done that!" In fact they're already saying that over at Tribble:
It's an outrage to say the least, and it's your tax dollars at work. Honestly look at the logos below, and tell us if you feel the 17 million dollars was well spent?
We're expecting a blast from George Parker any second. (Update: Here it is, right on schedule!)

Claim: More time was spent constructing Bob Isherwood's hair than creating this logo.

Update: Tribble Agency has kindly posted a PDF of the new logo's usage guide -- and as with all documents written by uptight art directors it's hilarious. Among the banned usages are a big "screw you" to small businesses in New York. They won't be allowed to use the logo to advertise such things as:

  • All the buffalo wings you can eat $19.99
  • The potato sack races of the Hudson Valley
  • Hot sugar doughnuts
The PDF features a full catalog of the new clip-art-improved logo, along with a list of ways it may not be used, such as don't display it diagonally! For god's sake! Keep it horizontal!

The PDF also contains the interesting admission that:

Over time, I LOVE NEW YORK has become more and more fragile due to brand dilution and a need for a firm structure and a focused message.
That sounds like a coded "screw you" to Eric Mower & Associates, who handled the brand before Saatchi won it.

*This item was corrected to reflect the fact that the campaign as a whole will cost $17 million, not Saatchi's fee.