Oh, Canada. You.

by Omatic Design

Last Sunday’s New York Times travel section had a special (and surreal) conceit in store for the “Print Is Dead, Loser” oracles and the “Shut Up, I’m Reading Lord Byron” blackfingers.

Within the 11.5 by 21.5 inch format was a one-and-a-half broadsheet insert selling the tourism experience of Canada (it’s apparently some kind of country with lots of white people doing stuff). The entire insert (and other placed ads) was presented in a meticulously designed faux Web 2-point-everything manner, populated with inoperable “links”, impotent “likes” and typographer’s quotes. I could almost hear the web beeping as it backed up into the real world.

Honestly, I can’t figure out whether this is genius or idiocy, although I’m leaning hard towards the latter. For a special, very expensive advertising section trying to seduce you into a visiting a physical place with mountains, restaurants and breathable air, all it’s really doing is bastardizing banal spray-and-pray web design conventions in some misguided attempt at cleverness. “Canada: We Really Know Web Stuff So Visit Us”.

It lacks personality precisely because it apes HTML. They’ve used Verdana for links. (The rest of it is Helvetica, a typeface designed for actual designing.) We have the standard bullshit >> punctuation appropriations. And there’s the obligatory lineup of social media logos so everyone knows Canada is in the vanguard of the next ten minutes. And each province appears to have “Add To Faves” and “Blog This”.

But, oh no, it’s all illusion! Subterfuge! Chicanery! Canada, I’m going to sue your asses after jamming my forefinger trying to activate those inklinks.

Disregarding the questionable, concept-free take on paper vs. pixels, it sure looks better than the website that beckons you away from stodgy old paper. At least the physical insert is catching morning light as I write this and the resolution is that of reality. It’s staying nice and still. The design is tightly controlled if not stunning.

And the website? It’s a cheap attempt to copy a cheap copy. It ends up looking like the lesser cousin with an I.Q. of 72 pixels per inch.

And I will now dump all of this into this pre-fab automated blog with the personality of a cotton ball.