Design agencies warn of health legislation stifling creativity

Experts in the design industry have voiced their concerns about health related information on food and drink packaging stifling the creative process, as legislation becomes more rigid year-on-year.

Mcdonalds calories counter boards
Mcdonalds calories counter boards

The remarks come as McDonald’s became one of the first UK retailers to display calorie information on the menus of its 1,200 UK restaurants earlier this week under the Government’s voluntary Public Health Responsibility Deal.

Legislation is making it harder for agencies to differentiate brands according to Avril Tooley, client service director & partner at strategic design agency BrandOpus: “Now more than ever, it is essential for agencies to design brands in such a way that have a role over and above their product, enabling them to successfully overcome these enforced category generics.”

The high-street restaurant chain has been publishing similar calorie counts in New York since 2008 and Silas Amos, creative director at design and branding agency JKR says that the introduction of the counts to the UK market needs to stay true to the brand.

“More information typically means more clutter and they [McDonald’s] will find themselves criticised in some quarters for not making this new information bigger on their already busy menu boards.”

McDonald’s already puts calorie information on its website and on the back of tray liners, and Tooley argues that the extra layer of information on menus in-store “only adds another layer of friction to the purchase decision, making the brand more generic.”

However, David Bicknell, creative director at Echo Brand Design, argues that brands affected by food and health legislation shouldn’t let it affect their core proposition, and creatives should tap into the idea that fast food is healthy as long as it is part of a balanced diet.

“The appeal for fast food brands has never been healthy eating, it’s an indulgence,” he says. “Design creativity should tap into this and position the brand as more of a reward outside of people’s balanced diet.

To read more about what the design agencies said click through to the Pitch blog here

To see the best creative work from creative, digital and design agencies go to the Pitch website by clicking here

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