Manchester Comedy Festival gets a miserable face

Manchester Comedy Festival is looking to attract a host of sponsors to secure its future development, using an innova – tive look and feel created by Mark Studio.

MCF organiser The Comedy Store selected the independent Manchester consultancy from a three-way pitch in June. It is to overhaul the image of the tenday festival – one of Manches – ter City Council’s eight ‘pillar’ events – with a view to boosting its profile, increasing audience numbers and attrac – ting sponsors. The latest camp – aign super sedes previous work.

Mark Studio creative director and founder Mark Lester says, ‘Our proposal was to start from a totally different ref erence point and do the opp osite of what you might expect.’

Explaining the motivation behind the new campaign, The Comedy Store marketing manager and festival co-ordina – tor Anna Greenwood says, ‘We wanted to do something completely new and fresh, to move the festival for ward and create more interest around the event. One of the best ways to do that is through design.’

Greenwood adds, ‘The prob – lem with comedy advertising is that most of it is really naff and stilted, with the same old topics of chattering teeth and whoopee cushions. For the festival to grow, we have to attract more sponsors and need something that looks really good. I see it as more of an arts event – the way they do it in Edinburgh – and what we’re hoping to do, really, is to bring a little bit of Edinburgh to Manchester.’

Mark Studio has commiss – ioned photographer Richard Moran to produce a range of portraits of real people looking ‘miserable’ to form an ironic graphic concept and tone as the basis for the campaign.

The ‘miserable’ faces work on a number of levels, prompting a humorous reaction and suggesting that they could do with cheering up.

‘We’ve created a typeface, a colour, a logotype and photographic styling, so I suppose we have created a brand identity, but not in the traditional sense. This branding is more about an attitude.

We’ve not created a logo for the MCF to splatter across everything. [As a result] the creative work becomes difficult to manage when looking at applications across different touchpoints,’ says Lester.

The ‘faces’ form the core visual language that will be used across brochures, posters, postcards, banners and website. ‘There’s a core of six faces that people will begin to recognise and associate with the festival,’ Lester adds. The campaign will launch on 1 September.


• Performers confirmed include Dylan Moran, Jason Manford, Jimmy Carr, Paddy McGuiness, Russell Howard, Justin Moor – house, Jim Jeffries, Brendon Burns and Richard Herring

• It is one of Manchester City Council’s eight pillar events, alongside Manchester Pride, the International Festival and the Food and Drink Festival

• Now in its ninth year, MCF will take place across city centre and Greater Manchester venues from 16-26 October

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