Endangered Species The Hack Briefing


Have you seen our latest video?

Next week, on Wednesday, October 3rd at 9:30 AM at Makerversity (www.makerversity.org/london), we will launch the Design Hackathon – The Future of Global Branding & Packaging. Check out www.designhackathon.com: the brief and the issue will be live shortly, but there are a few interesting films to view, especially the legendary Michael Wolff and the design guru Stephen Bayley

As I have said before, the idea we can trust government and legislators with the design of information to educate people to lead healthy and responsible lives is ridiculous. Brand owners and the creative industries need to take some level of ownership, and the Global Design Hackathon is a demonstration of the alternatives to potential ‘Graphic Horror Labels’ on some of our favourite brands.

On the launch day itself, we will have some leading designers on-site at Makerversity, working on initial ideas we can share later that day. After that, designers around the world can participate via the website until the end of October, and once we have collated and curated the ideas, we will share online and potentially in print. 

To keep it fair, only participating designers and agencies will have copyright access to the work and have permission to share the work with their clients. Lewis Silkin (www.lewissilkin.com), a leading law firm to the creative industry, will be helping us in managing all intellectual property rights (with a special thanks to Dominic Farnsworth, the partner leading trademark and IP). 

If I haven't approached you directly and you want to take part in some way, please email me at ron@endangered-species.co.uk and I will respond directly. We need as much creative support as possible, and as much media coverage as we can generate. If you are a brand owner and would like to see the results, then please mail me directly also.

Speaking of brand owners, there seems to me to be a reluctance among them to discuss or engage in labeling and legislation. In fairness, I completely understand their position, as sticking your head above this parapet is an invitation for a sniper attack or worse. Hopefully the Design Hackathon will create a confidential space where creative agencies and their clients can discuss, debate and develop strategies to address future challenges.

Here is a link to a short film you may find interesting.

Very Best, 



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Many of the threats and dangers to the global packaging, design, marketing and advertising industries that make an event like the Global Design Hackathon a necessity are hiding in plain sight. Its title, “The Future of Global Branding and Packaging” is not hyperbole.
ES has covered most of them over the past months. The brief tour below of those closest to home gives us an insight into why it is just too important a subject, with too many freedoms and jobs at stake, to leave educating people about leading “healthy and responsible lives” solely to the short-termism, mercy and favours of government legislation (wherever that government may be).
What’s clear with regards to creeping legislation is that there is a domino effect. One country’s initiative legitimises another country’s follow-up. Before you know it, what happens in Lithuania happens in Ireland or France or Britain. It is a pattern repeated time and again when the government turns nanny state under the guise of health and safety. And often with an extremely powerful lobby group turning up the pressure.
Further afield, it is even more apparent that there is a need for those involved in design, packaging and marketing to take control of its future wherever possible, before that future is dictated by governments, influenced by forces ranging from pressure groups to corruption.
Here – in the week that Ireland again (just) failed to rubber stamp its new Public Health (Alcohol) legislation – is a recap of just a few of the very real and present dangers both in the UK and Europe:


The wide-ranging Bill was supposed to have been passed in late September, but there were not enough members of parliament present in the Dail (House) to vote it through. It includes plans to restrict alcohol advertising with a new watershed on television, segregate alcohol  packaging in supermarket aisles, enforce minimum pricing and cancer and other health warnings on packaging. It has had a tortuous, controversial journey since first being proposed by the current Taioseach, Leo Varadker, three years ago.
This is down not least to the multi-faceted complexity of the bill, which presents threats to already challenged mainstream media revenues, tight supermarket margins, struggling advertising and design agencies and – of course – Ireland’s crucial alcohol industry with its many iconic brands. Not to mention a tax on the poor. There is no doubting that Ireland has a significant problem with both binge-drinking and liver-related illnesses and deaths, but the draconian nature of the legislation may have many, serious unintended economic consequences.


It’s too easy to dismiss as typically French hyperbole the 60 French wine producers who wrote to Le Figaro newspaper in July to demand that the government stopped “damaging the soul of France” via proposed new legislation regarding the introduction of compulsory health warnings on wine. But the initiative by the Health Minister, Agnes Buzyn, which would see two-centimetre wide red tags on the front of wine bottle labels, go right to the heart of French culture. Not to mention its £11.5 billion wine and spirits export trade.
The proposed labels would warn in particular of the laws against under-age drinking and the recommendations around no alcohol consumption for pregnant women. Wine consumption in France is actually in long-term serious decline and the new rules seem primarily aimed at fending off potential future lawsuits. It remains to be seen if President Macron, himself an advocate of drinking wine with lunch and dinner, will risk his slumping popularity still further to support the proposals.


In May this year, members of Britain’s parliamentary Health Select Committee proposed a ban on cartoon characters such as The Honey Monster (Sugar Puffs) and the Milky Bar Kid, demonising them in the service of what they deemed “unhealthy food.” Not a ban on all characters, you understand, so the Jolly Green Giant is safe – as sweet corn is deemed “healthy.” But, who decides what is “healthy?”
The characters ban was one of a series of proposals made by the committee, including no “junk food" ads before the 9 PM watershed; supermarkets removing sweets, chocolates and other “unhealthy” snacks from the end of check-out aisles; a restriction on multi-buy packs; a potential ban of sports clubs and tournaments being sponsored by “unhealthy” brands; a restriction by local authorities on the number of junk food outlets in their areas and putting pressure on social media giants to restrict the amount of “unhealthy” food adverts that young children can see.
It is one of the clunkier examples of MPs pandering to health lobbies in search of easy headlines and votes. Because the “other side” is currently not so public in its defence of such draconian proposed legislation, MPs will continue to take the easy option instead of the far more difficult and expensive long-term public health education campaign required.


There is no specific legislation in play here, but it is worth noting that the global counterfeit industry is now estimated to be worth some $2 trillion a year and estimated to be worth $2.3 trillion by 2025. Beyond all the headline-grabbing around luxury goods, there are profound resulting problems ranging from product safety (most notably — but not limited to — pharmaceuticals), to the loss of millions of jobs in industries hit by counterfeits. Some 80 per cent of the world’s counterfeit goods are manufactured in China and Hong Kong and, if anything, the problem is getting worse.


All of these issues, plus other threats to the global packaging, design, marketing and advertising industries ranging from warnings on labels to punitive pricing are hiding in plain sight. But these industries’ responses continue to be limited, reactive and largely defensive. It is time to get on the front foot and to use a familiar phrase — “take back control” — by regaining influence over one’s own destiny. The consequences of not doing so could be dire.