Don’t Let Them Disappear: Superfried’s smoke-inspired campaign for ape conservation

Design studio Superfried has developed the design, identity and promo animation for Don’t Let Them Disappear, an ape conservation campaign from actor and ethical investor Leonardo DiCaprio and primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

The campaign centres around a flash sale, at crowd-selling platform Represent, of organic t-shirts, a recycled hoodie, and an eco-fleece crewneck sweatshirt, with proceeds benefiting ape conservation work.

It was a challenging brief, with the design needing to represent Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Gibbons and Bonobos. “This was tricky and various approaches were either too complex or too fun for the gravitas of the message” explains Mark Richardson of Superfried. “One idea was to use profile illustrations of the ape’s faces. This conveyed all species, but it was not actually saying anything.

“I then searched for ways to connect to their habitat. This led to their forms emerging from smoke due to deforestation. However, as soon as I sent the blurred, smoke style visual, I realised that it would not work as a screen print on a t-shirt. I promptly reassured myself it would not be a problem as they would never select that route. Inevitably they did!”

Now, the tricky brief was even more challenging - creating vector smoke. After various tests, Mark developed a simple design representing the fluid nature of smoke and, working with Represent, decided to split the smoke paths into two groups, with the less significant printed in a paler grey to create a sense of depth.

He also created an animation representing one of the most compelling characteristics of smoke - the way it moves, and, inspired by the elongated form of trees, Mark came up with a condensed typestyle for the key campaign message: Don’t Let Them Disappear.

In addition to the t-shirt, a foil printed poster will be available at a later date, and there are potential plans to develop the type style into a complete typeface for commercial sale to raise funds for the related organisations.

Orangutans have lost an estimated 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years, largely due to fragmentation from the palm oil and wood pulp industries. To support the cause, you can purchase the line here.