Craig Ward Creates a Winter Wonder for Mastercard
It was right around Thanksgiving when Craig Ward got the call. Mastercard needed Christmas ads, and they needed them now. Usually, Christmas ads are ordered in the summer, giving everyone the opportunity to slow down and examine every possibility and corner of a concept. But Mastercard had 10 days between the first call and needing to hang the ads. Of course, this is Craig Ward, so he jumped right in.
The concept was a series of type heavy ads that looked as though the viewer were gazing outside their window on falling snow, and the snow just happened to spell the message that Craig and Mastercard were bringing to consumers. “We wanted to do it with ice and snow,” explains Craig. “Of course my first impulse was to buy an ice shaver and freeze some giant blocks of ice. But it was November so we weren’t going to be able to shoot in a walk-in freezer.” Instead, Craig tapped into the long tradition of movie magic, utilizing techniques we see in Hollywood films. “We bought three to four different varieties of fake snow; some that’s good for falling, some that looks good for individual flakes, and some that looks good for middle distance,” Craig says. “And we created the full alphabet using stencils on glass, backlit with a black background.” They build nearly a dozen versions of each letter so that every usage would be different, and the viewers eyes wouldn’t catch patterns. Each word is entirely unique.
Craig is best known for working in typography, which is a unique place to be when advertising has become so image heavy. Craig is fully aware of striking this balance, but he leans into it, considering his way of working a way to interact deeply with viewers, even if there are fewer of them. “It’s not going to speak to everybody, but it’s easier for me to target a certain type of people by treating type in a certain type of way. I’d rather one person stop and read a piece of advertising or communication on the subway. That’s kind of where I start. This is another example of that.”
All in all, the tight schedule and clean lines of the ads are exactly what Craig and Mastercard needed to bring the message to life. “It’s nice because it’s in place in Columbus Circle next to all these boutiques,” says Craig. “At a distance it just looks like some nice clean typography, but when you get in, it reveals itself.” You see more than you expected: a wonderful achievement in such a short timeframe.