Hipster Infographic: Your chance to “rebrand” America

by: Kate Mottola

October 22, 2012

The graphic design studio, mgmt., based out of Brooklyn, NY delivers a wide range of creative image-driven projects. From clients spanning all walks of life (such as Al Gore and the royal family of Thailand), mgmt. has carved quite an impressive place for itself among competitive design companies. Part of its charm is undeniably tied to its fundamentalist and stark approach to production – and nothing illustrates this better than their infographic work; notably their latest installment entitled: “(Re)Flag: A re-branding of America by MGMT.”

(Re)Flag WILD mag design arts

Infographics can be understood as quintessential indicators of the modern world’s attention span. Like a pictorial twitter account, infographics offer blips of information or data in an easy-to-understand visual representation. This allows the viewer access to (often) complex information quickly and coherently, mostly in a single image read in a matter of seconds – which, let’s be honest, is all we care to devote our time to these days.

In “(Re)Flag,” mgmt. delivers dense and obscure facts and figures wrapped in sleek and stylish simplicity. This infographic campaign humorously comments on random statistical facts about the US of A. Each tableau displays a simple image – something very non-threatening and perhaps reminiscent of your child’s drawing that you proudly pinned up to the refrigerators last night – and under the image is a sentence explaining its significance as well as implicating any underlying social, political, and/or economic commentary. For instance, the picture below is called “Obesity”:

Obesity percentages per state. A person with a BMI of over 30 is considered obese.
From left to right: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY

It intends to illustrate the BMI rates in all 50 states through the image of the stars on the American flag. The image holds both symbolic and rhetorical power by appealing to a sense of patriotism (which the American people can’t help but wax irresistibly) and juxtaposing it with what such patriotism may stand for – calling into question the eating habits of the United States, our choices for food, our food industry, surplus, poverty, class, geopolitical location, etc. etc. A clever graphic indeed and one in which we are all implicated, I’m just not sure that responsibility really comes through, on a collective or individual basis. But hey, maybe it’s not supposed to.

Another point to consider, or contend, is the sources. Each graphic references a source from various news outlets, such as Bloomberg and HuffPost. In our technologically advanced age of information, anyone can make a comment and brand it confidently with less-than-reputable foundations. Who’s to know? Or more pointedly, who cares to find out?

Finally, this “rebranding” leaves its viewers longing for direction – for what exactly is being campaigned or re-branded? No doubt any one of these graphics has the potential to become the next hipster tee, so what does that actually say? To me, it misses its subversive mark, but maybe it wasn’t going for that after all. Of course, each viewer must decide for oneself. If anything, it’s a great distraction to post on Facebook.

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