Brand Toys: a monstrous threat to the humble pie chart?

Ad giant JWT reckons we've become stuck in a rut when it comes to visualising data. And it's come up with a (rather adorable) replacement.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 13 May 2011
We’d heard accusations from the anti-capitalist brigade that brands were becoming the monsters of the modern age, but this is just ridiculous. In a quest to make the world of data more playful, marketing communications firm JWT has taken the features of some of the world’s largest and most well-known companies and, erm, transformed them into a menagerie of strange-looking animals. Thus, HSBC becomes a smiling gorilla, Smirnoff is a rather smug-looking mouse and Apple is a sort of odd mutant with a cheesy grin on its face (Jonathan Ives probably wouldn’t approve). Confused? That’s not the half of it.

The ‘Brand Toys’ have taken data from Millward Brown’s BrandZ study, as well as ‘online buzz data’ to influence how the creatures look. So MT’s own creature (we’ve named him Colin, in case you were wondering), is tall, indicating that he’s fairly influential, and is wearing a hat, because he’s assertive. He’s also a mutant, which shows he has a lot of potential, and is sporting a rather natty pink rosette, which means he’s trustworthy. Natch.

Apparently, the toys were the brainchild of JTW’s Guy Murphy, who said these days, we’re not creative enough about the way we present data. So he did away with the staid corporate conventions of presenting pie charts (easy to read? So noughties) in favour of something a bit more ‘playful’. The result, says Murphy, ‘represents brands as consumers feel them – with personality and character, not as a series of numbers or complex mechanisms’, helping to combat ‘global indifference’ to companies.

Now don’t get us wrong – MT is very happy with the latest, addition to its team, and we can see his potential to jazz up the odd PowerPoint presentation. But somehow, we don’t see Brand Toys replacing bar graphs quite yet. Although we have to admit, they’re far more appealing…

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