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Ivan's picture

Design culture shock

The Saudi Arabian Airlines logo freaks me out. I realize that the swords are part of the national iconography, but I can't help but think of plane hijacking. I mean what were they thinking? It's an international brand! Surely they should've thought about the fact that any aggressive or disturbing imagery might hurt their brand.

Designers are breaking their heads about what angle they should portray the plane, so that it doesn't look like as if it's in uncontrolled descent, but taking off. They try to come up with international symbols with positive meanings. And these guys put a freaking double sword on their logo? Pirate airlines? At least the colors are good. They sort of calm you down, don't they? ;)

The coffee packaging with the lady in national dress is only for the local market and it portrays hospitality, but I have to admit that the image looks like a ninja preparing the instant potion for the dumb Eurotrash like me. :) I realize these designs are culture specific and the fake bacon dog treat from Switzerland must seems as weird for the Arabs as the Arab designs for me. It's not just that the dog and the bacon are both "haram", but also the humorous tone of voice must feel alien to them. Or at least that's my perception. If I have any Arab readers that are not exposed to western culture too much please confirm.

Do you have pictures of designs that you think might shock someone on the other side of the planet?

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Anonymous's picture

Quizno had a rescent campain that included two rat-like creatures singing silly songs. This scared most people in the US who saw it, I would imagine it would be really scarry to another culture. This link isn;t the actual commercial, but it the the saem rats.

kit's picture

It seems that 'they' were appalled, as well, by the cross of 'our' swiss air.

Ivan's picture

good catch! definitely. the christian crusade has left bad memories. that's why it was awful use of terminology from Bush when he was talking about a crusade against terrorists.

Anonymous's picture


I'm sorry, but I have to take you to task for a bit of cultural ignorance. (Not stupidity - ignorance).

Why would Saudi Arabian Airlines use a logo with crossed swords? Well, take a look at the CIA's World Fact Book here: There you can see their flag, which contains . . . wait for it . . . a saber! According to that page, the flag was created in the early 20th Century - long before planes were flown into the World Trade Center.

For that matter, U.S. soldiers who participated in the first Gulf War (remember that one?) earned this medal: Looking at it, you can see it feature . . . crossed sabers.

I humbly suggest saving your righteous indignation for a more appropriate opportunity. - Dale Cruse

Ivan's picture

Thanks for your post. I'm afraid you misunderstood me. BTW, you're very kind not to call me stupid. :)

I didn't have to look up the CIA fact book to see how the KSA flag looks like. I live in Bahrain (let me save you the search: just off the coast of Saudi :), so I know exactly what you're talking about. I think I wrote: "I realize that the swords are part of the national iconography".

Regarding my indignation: I'm not angry. I was observing. I think you may be projecting your own righteous feelings here.

I'm just joking! No hard feelings. :)

Ed Knittel's picture

Man, Beggin' Strips have been big in the States for years and years - the commercials are always amusing.

PsychoCat's picture

The Coffee, I wonder if she's the equivilent to Betty Crocker. The Airline logo, My first thought- A symbol of, "Don't try it here" type warning. I think it's very reasonable that people might associate swords or sabers as something that might hurt, especially when so much negative is highly publicised, but I had a positive thought. Goes to show you symbols can be extreemly powerful. Beggin' strips, what's so funny? What strikes me funny is a "flavor" of cat food- I think it's Friskies- Called "Kitty Stew". Great subject!

Anonymous's picture

Over here in malaysia, people think twice about buying chevrolet. It's the logo - a cross (albeit distorted).

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