Justified Juror Comments: UNIQLO "Storms" Pinterest

In 2013, for “Justified: AIGA Design Competition,” a distinguished jury chaired by Clement Mok selected 14 case studies that each serve as an effective tool to explain the role of designers in conceiving and implementing solutions.

The following are individual jurors’ comments on the selection “Case Study: UNIQLO ‘Storms’ Pinterest.” To view all 14 selected works, visit: aiga.org/justified-2013-selections/

Jessica Hische 300x200

Jessica Hische, letterer and procrastiworker, Title Case, San Francisco, California

This was definitely one of the most polarizing entries, but ultimately the effectiveness of the campaign was hard to deny. The scrolling animations were smart and beautiful, and I liked the DIY approach.

Brad Johnson 300x200

Brad Johnson, VP, executive creative director, Second Story (now part of SapientNitro), Portland, Oregon

No project elicited more passionate dialogue among the jurors than this one; no other submission was discussed at greater length. Few of us were ever convinced that the creative teams were “justified” in what they did, but what they did do epitomized the kind of irreverent, innovative thinking that makes interactive media interesting and keeps it rapidly evolving. The team figured out a way to exploit a medium (Pinterest) and turn it into a different kind of canvas than its creators ever imagined (or intended, or wanted). The concept, process and execution were brilliant.

Josh Rubin 300x200

Josh Rubin, founder and editor in chief, Cool Hunting, New York, New York

An innovative commandeering of a popular social sharing site, this project marries deep understanding of user behavior and age-old animation techniques to deliver an unexpected-yet-delightful experience.

Christopher Simmons 300x200

Christopher Simmons, principal and creative director, MINE™, San Francisco, California

This was easily the most innovative and interesting project submitted to this year’s competition. It was also the most divisive and controversial. In the end, I voted to include it though I remain among the most skeptical of the jurors. First, the good: The team at Firstborn recognized an existing and predictable human behavior (scrolling) within the context of a popular online platform (Pinterest). They then engineered a way to hijack that experience and put the UNIQLO brand in front of potential consumers. The resulting animations were very clever and actually rather delightful to watch. Their efforts garnered massive social media “buzz” and traditional media mentions, all without spending a cent on media placement. What I find problematic—and indeed highly distasteful—about this solution is its moral ambivalence. In essence, it’s the present-day equivalent of a pop-up ad: an invasive, unwanted visual assault and a disruption of an individual’s user experience. This particular execution happens to have been done well, but as an idea and a value it is uncommendable. Although no money was spent on media placement, the designers’ approach exacts a cultural cost. This project raises questions about design’s (and designers’) relationship to society and our shared social media landscape. Do we applaud these efforts as innovative, creative “hacks” or shun them for blithely serving commercial interests at the expense of users and communities?

Alina Wheeler 300x200

Alina Wheeler, author, Designing Brand Identity, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

More than any other competition entry, this submission sparked a lively debate about its merits and a broader discussion about online ethics. I am personally in favor of disruption because without it, we have no innovation. Kudos to those who can override the algorithms, for soon the robots will be in charge. The solution was simply beautiful as well. Perhaps I would have felt differently had I experienced the hacking and not been a judge after the fact.