Netanyahu: Yes We Can … Knock-off Obama

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Stephen Coles | November 14, 2008

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign identity is largely credited with being the most well-designed and consistent of any in recent memory. Other politicians worldwide are taking note. The NY Times reports that the campaign website of Benjamin Netanyahu, conservative Likud leader running for prime minister of Israel, feels unmistakably Obama-esque.

Obama/Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu’s website bears an uncanny resemblance to Barack Obama’s.

The Times got a reaction from the creators of Obama’s site, who took it all in stride.

Thomas Gensemer, managing partner of Blue State Digital, say the Netanyahu site is closer to Mr. Obama’s than any others they have seen.

“Nothing has been so direct as the Netanyahu Web site, though we have seen others with shades of it,” he said, adding that when a campaign is successful, “people are going to knock things off, both in terms of functionality and aesthetic.”

So Gensemer considers it as a copy, as does Ron Dermer, one of Mr. Netanyahu’s top campaign advisors.

“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. We’re all in the same business, so we took a close look at a guy who has been the most successful and tried to learn from him.”

Ethics controversy aside, I’m thrilled to see design get some attention from politicians. We’re very accustomed to second rate campaign stuff here in the U.S.

Fortunately, despite their obvious influences, the Netanyahu designers demonstrate some very competent original typography. The headlines of the Russian version are in FF Daxline Cyrillic (also available in the Pro version), which exudes a friendlier, softer, and perhaps more modern air than Obama’s Gotham.

Supporting FF Daxline is the very safe and legible P22 London Underground, the most recent and complete digital interpretation of Edward Johnston’s landmark typeface, and certainly the first to come with Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic character sets. Read more about P22 Underground in the FontShop release announcement.

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9 Comments:

  1. Found this on ynet.news:

    Despite the obvious similarities between the sites, Netanyahu’s Spokesman Yossi Levi claimed that the design of Bibi’s website was not copied from Obama’s site.
    “We view the comparison as a compliment,” Levi said. “The guideline of the Likud’s online campaign is openness and maximal transparency to the public, with maximal public participation in the election process.”

    So not everyone in Netanyahu’s camp is so gracious to admit they actually looked at Obama’s website for inspiration. And I’m being very kind here — this looks like a shameless rip-off to me.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Nov. 14, 2008
  2. Well, Nentanyahu’s always been smart and pragmatic. I’m not surprised to see him jump on a popular formula.

    Posted by James Puckett on Nov. 14, 2008
  3. I noticed a much less significant and prominent (but still obvious) example of this in a local election in San Francisco:

    http://www.julioramos.org/

    Posted by David Cole on Nov. 14, 2008
  4. That orange and black logo set in ITC Bookman and Arial looks like a pair of pliers on a pig as we say in Belgium. ;)

    Posted by Yves Peters on Nov. 14, 2008
  5. Wow. Even the horizontally flipped layout is due to the right-to-left reading of Hebrew.

    Posted by Joe Pemberton on Nov. 14, 2008
  6. I knew I should have included Hebrew as well! Maybe next time…

    Posted by paul on Nov. 14, 2008
  7. It is a different country. I’ll give it a pass. In America, no politician should be this foolish. But someone in every democratic country is going to just on something Obama-like now. Whether they translate things like “change” or “yes we can”, or steal the website design, this is going to cover the world like Helvetica. Could this political party have been more creative? Yes! Can I blame them? No.

    Posted by Dan Reynolds on Nov. 15, 2008
  8. Surprisingly (I don’t like the latin cut) Daxline Cyrillic looks nice despite the slated zhe. May be because of the constructive, artificial nature of the cyrillic letters which blend well with the font. Or may be because the cyrillic is THE LANGUAGE for slogans.

    Posted by Plamen Tanovski on Nov. 17, 2008
  9. Ya’ know, as designers, it is with extreme rarity, if at all, that we design something that doesn’t stand on the shoulders of another concept, formula, or framework. Although, in doing so we must differentiate between borrowing the ideas and concepts we’ve seen work and admire – for inspiration, and full-blown ripping off of an implementation from top to bottom.

    Obama’s online campaign worked for lots of reasons, few of which were not already in implementation elsewhere, only one of which was the way that it looked, and all of which can be emulated with original design and flair. In other words, you could cherry-pick the navigation and layout setup, massage it around your needs and design your own site around it. This site, on the other hand, has stolen EVERYTHING about Obama’s site… I know that blue and white are the Israeli flag colors, but the entire color scheme, button style, and layout are copied… and more.

    Now we all know that the color scheme and the look of the buttons isn’t what made this website work. It was the accessible navigation, use of media, and social nature that made this site shine. And all those things can be implemented without xeroxing the design.

    Also, other blah blah blah.

    Posted by Joseph Sims on Nov. 17, 2008

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