LOVE / HATE: Amazon Fresh and the ‘First Moment of Truth’

‘Is it curtains for design agency claptrap?’ 

Following the recent UK launch of Amazon Fresh, Richard Williams and Garrick Hamm explore the Love and Hate of the brand packaging ‘First Moment of Truth’ in the digital age on online grocery shopping.


Hate: Packaging


Many years ago, Procter and Gamble came up with the idea of ‘The First Moment of Truth’.

This was all about how packaging works in the supermarket and how first impressions really count. I can’t remember what the second and third moments of truth were, something about bar codes probably.

I wonder what P&G thinks about the FMOT of their brands as they appear in online shopping. Does it bring on an FMOH (First Moment of Horror)? Here’s the truth. Brands look dreadful on Ocado and as we’re about to be invaded by Amazon Fresh they need to do something now.

Since it’s only partially available in the UK, I had to pretend to live in the Empire State Building (ZIP code 10118) to be able to access it. What is glaringly obvious is that, if Amazon Fresh really takes off, (the British Retail Consortium predicts that 900,000 jobs will be lost by 2025 as the industry moves online) the claptrap and mumbo jumbo that packaging design agencies have peddled for years, in an effort to cover up their lack of creativity, will have no further use.


There is no ‘shelf blocking’ since there aren’t any shelves to block and you can’t see any ‘category cues’ or ‘appetite appeal’ because the pack shots are so tiny, the copy is illegible and everything is low res. The game’s up. Brands have to find a new way to work for online shopping and it’s a wonderful, thrilling opportunity.


Love: Smiles 


Hopefully Amazon Fresh really will lead to a completely different way of presenting brands on screen.  They’re going to have to look at simple visual mnemonics. It could even lead to a new golden era where intelligent, meaningful logos represent a brand instead of dull old packaging.

Actually, this is really just a gratuitous excuse to talk about the recently updated ‘A Smile in the Mind’. Along with Alan Fletcher’s ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ it is one of the must-have books on engaging, intelligent design. I’ve always loved those clever little logos that give a business personality.

The original Spratt’s pet food logo is clunky and artless, but incredibly endearing. Dog happiness is built right into it. I also came across this little beauty for Knapp Shoes (obviously) by Chermayeff & Geismar Inc. in New York. It’s a lovely witty mark. Simple and clever. How could you resist? Similarly, Norbert Dutton’s 1959 logo for electronics business, Plessey, is something we’d be proud to have done today.


(left) Spratts – Logo designed by Max Field-Bush (UK). Copyright (second extension) 2016, Julien Clairet of DATA ACCESS Paris. / (middle) Knapp Shoes – Logo designed by Charmayeff & Geismar Inc. / (right) The Plessey Company Ltd – Logo designed by Norbert Dutton’s 1959


With wit like this, think what you could do for a brand like Bird’s Eye or Flash. We won’t see the end of supermarket packaging by any means and I fear that we won’t lose steamy shots of soup and stringy cheese slices on pizza packs, but perhaps Amazon Fresh, unwittingly, will lead to a design revolution where we go back to intelligent, beautifully thought through brand identities.

I can’t wait.


Authors: Richard Williams & Garrick Hamm. 

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