Thursday, May 14, 2009


OK, so we’re in the deepest, darkest recession for decades. It pretty much sucks for everybody. We are bombarded with alarmingly complicated messages of panic and calamity at every turn, it is easy to put your head in the sand but that doesn’t get you anywhere. Although quietly soldiering on may have some merit, for some of us, it is time to put our head above the parapet and tell it how it is. How do you fight things of such epic proportions? With satire, that’s how!

One afternoon in April Stephanie Ambrois de Pascarella, Creative Director of Taniebrand, was talking to her friend Antoine about how the recession is affecting her business. Nothing unusual there, everyone has something to say about it, the recession has slapped us all around the face to some extent and most of us really don’t deserve it. What is unusual is the action Stephanie has decided to take. She wanted to make a strong, unambiguous statement with humour, and that is exactly what she did!

Antoine, who runs HU2, a company that designs and produces vinyl transfers, showed Stephanie one of the stickers he had designed recently. Himself frustrated with the ephemeral evil of the global economic crisis, had decided to antropomorphise the recession, give it some personality, a shape, and then stick two fingers up to it: F*ck You Recession! On seeing his design, Stephanie had the idea of projecting this sentiment to the world at large, to provoke some reaction, it was time to make a stand, to tell it how it is. And what better way than to use your window to put your point across?

So on Friday the 19th of April, Antoine came back to Taniebrand’s office on Great Eastern Street, a major thoroughfare to and from the City of London, to put up a vinyl transfer in their large, arched first floor window.

Now, passers by can read “F*ck You Recession”, as their make their way past number 68. “Fuck THE Recession, would not be funny”, says Chris, a graphic designer at Taniebrand, “It comes across as arrogant and aggressive. I think the transfer the way it is encapsulates the frustration we all feel.” The hope is that a ballsy statement like this will not only make people smile along in agreement, but provide a type of slogan that we can all get behind, give a sense of unity. We are all in this mess together and we need to have a common purpose, to carry on despite the recession.

For Stephanie and her colleagues at Taniebrand, it was about taking a risk with a strong motto in order to attract attention and generate reaction. It is too easy to let bad circumstances just befall you; we need to snap ourselves out of it and do something proactive. “Putting ‘F*ck You Recession’ in your window is a risk, not everyone is going to react positively, but at least they will react”, says Stephanie. Initially, not all of the Taniebrand employees felt entirely confident about the window transfer idea, it was felt that it could alienate potential clients: “Some of our clients are traditional companies, I was worried that they would not appreciate language like that”, says Alice, one of Taniebrand’s design team, “I am French and I think we have a different attitude to language, the English are maybe a little more relaxed about the way words are used.”

The Taniebrand office is truly international; you can hear Spanish, French and English being spoken and this is reflected Taniebrand’s client base. Stephanie put it to a vote and the majority of the Taniebrand workforce voted in favour for the “F*ck You Recession” message to be displayed.

For most people, the recession, credit crunch, or what ever you want to call it, is only real in the effect it has on us: a decline in commissions, clients and customers spending less and a much lighter wallet generally. The actions that have landed us all in this hole, happened way over all our heads, but we are all paying the price and we are allowed to be angry about it. No one likes cleaning up someone else’s mess; it is not fun or right. It is in our nature as human beings to find an explanation and a culprit when things go wrong, an economic crisis is no exception. As there is no one person or single event responsible, but rather an inconceivably complicated and amorphous string of circumstances, we have no choice but to fight the symptom first, but we need to do it together.

It is a risky statement, one that could offend, but is aimed to unite us all in spirit and spur on debate and action, with healthy irreverence and good humour.

Mia Tagg 2009®

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