The next big thing (Project 4: Exercise 1)


I have chosen the advertisement below as my example of “new”.

6bbe31b77c246cd425773732d52e10a9 black and blaze
Fig. 1. Black & Blaze 2014

My list of the characteristics that give this advertisement such a contemporary feel is as follows:

  • Style – The minimalist tone immediately gives it a very contemporary look and feel. This is achieved by:
    • Lack of colour. The ad is black and white but for the coffee which is many shades of brown.
    • There is texture to the black surface but it is subtle and not intrusive. Although the branding is anything but modern in style, it too is small and maintains the minimalist look of the ad.
  • Reference to the power logo used on modern electrical devices
    • The combination of digital 1 and 0 is ubiquitous now, but in this context makes the coffee cup itself appear modern.
  • Symbols and branding but no text.
    • All of the communication is through image and symbol. There is no explicit textual message.
  • There is a hidden implied use of modern slang. Coffee gets you “on it”. For some of us older people the implied slang might be that coffee “turns us on”!
  • There is no reference to people.
  • There is no reference to the nature of the product nor the roasting process.

(Note that an older advert is included at the foot of this page as contrast to the above.)

The broader cultural trends are, arguably, precisely those mentioned in the list above such as modern technology and the current trends towards minimalist design. Of course coffee itself is part of a wider trend, especially in the UK where there has been a large increase in coffee bars as well as coffee consumption.

There are potentially two links to historical artefacts. The first is the image of the coffee cup. Seen directly from above it resembles an old fashion power knob or dial. The second is the company’s branding. The choice of font and various flourishes give it an old almost classical look.

As soon as the next hot drink fad comes along, this ad will, of course, age. But perhaps the largest factor that will age it is that minimalist style. If trends move towards bolder colours, busier images and/or more text then this ad runs the risk of looking austere.

Here is an older coffee ad to act as a contrast.

Fig. 2. Edwards coffee advertisement (1953)

Note not only the amount of text, but the direction of the text to a housewife buying coffee for her husband. Whilst looking for an older ad I came across one where the sexism was so vile that I couldn’t bring myself to include it in this blog.

List of illustrations


Figure 1. Black and Blaze Coffee; off and on (2014) [Advertisement] At: (Accessed on 02/11/17)

Figure 2. Edwards Coffee (1953) [Advertisement] At: (Accessed on 02/11/17)






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