Crease is the word if you live on the street

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The Independent Online

Some commercials are obviously going to win prizes. They're simple, clever and made on a shoestring. They're made for good causes – charities, public sector campaigns. And they're the ones that have design values, meaning they appeal to the design types that judge these competitions.

Some commercials are obviously going to win prizes. They're simple, clever and made on a shoestring. They're made for good causes – charities, public sector campaigns. And they're the ones that have design values, meaning they appeal to the design types that judge these competitions.

The commercial for The Big Issue hits the spot on all these counts. It's not just clever, it's origami. For a certain cohort of designers, origami is somewhere between the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and a Frank Lloyd Wright house in their pantheon of utter wonderfulness. It's paper. Folded. What greater tribute to the unshakeable human spirit. This ancient Eastern people's art is a bit like a dignified version of graffiti. If you think about it.

So there's a Big Issue in the road, just lying there, with a lot of deeply urban noise: burglar alarms, toot-toot beep-beep stuff. Street life, you could say. Of course, we're talking black and white with that greenish filter on it. A horny hand of toil – nails in mourning, grimy cuticles – picks up the mag and starts on those impressive-looking folding strokes (cf napkins and hospital corners).

Important, deep-feature headings fold past "equating value with pity" or "second-class purity". And as all this type goes past – graphic people love it – there's an almost subliminal strip that keeps saying "coming up from the streets". And what creative type could resist that?

And there's a positive pay-off too, a Blairite Welfare to Work moral. The pages turn to brick effect, the sky turns inanely blue and then there's a little paper house in his hardened hand. Enterprise means hope and what people always call self-esteem now. Someone's off the streets, a roof over his head.

It's classic economy of means, but I'm not sure what it's actually meant to do. Sell copies? Recruit street sellers? Make you feel good about The Big Issue and its sellers? Elicit big donations? Shame critics into silence? Whatever, they've got the chic graphique vote.

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