Superhero designers

Published: 18 October, 2018

Categories: General

Superhero designers

As designers and creative thinkers, we have the unique ability to combat complex social, economic and social problems. Like many architects, interior designers and industrial designers are doing their part, we cannot underestimate those in the advertising and graphic design industries.

One area Graphic Designers use their skills for the good of the environment is through adopting sustainable methods within their design approach. In packaging design, graphic designers use the ‘Three R Method' - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce – this step looks at how packaging can be designed to use fewer resources and asking yourself how can I reduce the number of materials in the final design solutions?

Reuse – how can the packaging be designed to have a reusable function?

Recycle – using recyclable materials in your packaging design so that it can be processed into new products and cutting down the number of new resources needed.

However, doing good as a graphic design can extend into the choices you make when faced with a client’s brief. Consider the number of posters that need to be printed, the paper the posters are printed on, using sustainable ink or maybe offering an alternative solution to printed posters? These are but only a few of the many sustainable considerations that can be taken.

But what about advertising sector? Advertisers are doing their part in raising awareness for social and environmental issues. In this year’s Design and Art Direction Awards, the category ‘Creativity for Good’, showcased the most effective and creative campaigns for good.

One of the winners ‘Bullying Jr.’ campaign was conceptualized by the agency ‘David Miami’ for the fast food franchise ‘Burger King’. The aim of this campaign was to highlight that one of the biggest problems with bullying is that people don’t stand up to it.

“Burger King's live social experiment shows how more people would stand up for a bullied sandwich than a bullied child. Within days the Bullying Jr. experiment was shared over half a million times, earned over three billion impressions and over 100 million organic views. Today, Bullying Jr. is part of classroom curriculums worldwide.” (D&AD Awards, 2018)


As the state of our environment is becoming more and more of a concern, environmental groups are using advertising agencies to bring awareness to these issues and hopefully reach audiences to make a conscious impact. The Emirates Environmental Group contracted J. Walter Thompson Dubai to create an awareness campaign highlighting the effects of polluting the oceans and by doing so the effects it has on the wildlife that inhabit it (adsoftheworld, 2018).

By using food from the ocean and subtly incorporating pollutants, results in impactful images that make the viewer think.

I believe, as designers we have a moral and ethical responsibility to utilise our skills for good, whether it be reducing our carbon footprint through conscious packaging design, tackling social or environmental issues. These are but only a few ways Graphic Designers and those in the advertising industry are making a difference.


Written by: Leigh Wright

(Cape town Associate Full-time lecturer)