The Story Behind the Bonkers Logos in Idiocracy

By Adam Clark Estes on at

If you look closely in Mike Judge's under-appreciated (albeit slightly cruel) masterpiece, Idiocracy, you'll notice countless little logos from the future. These are the handiwork of graphic designer and former advertising professional Ellen Lampl.

Lampl recently talked about her design process with Trivia Happy and revealed just how deep the filmmakers went into creating fake corporate identities. While some of the companies—namely Carl's Jr. and Brawndo—came straight from the script, the vast majority of them came from Lampl's imagination. Simply put, she describes the overall look-and-feel of the logos as "a visual vernacular fusion of Nascar, confectionary packaging, Mexico handpainted signs and Japanese pop culture."

It sounds over the top because it is. "In Idiocracy, we let it be absurd, as part of the experience," she told the blog. "We realised that life in its present state already had tendencies towards the ridiculous—branding seeps in everywhere—so we let it be over the top."

The Story Behind the Bonkers Logos in Idiocracy

Lampl added, "Coming from the past constraints of advertising, it was cathartic to have the liberty to be bawdy and irreverent. Making everything ridiculously over-emphasised with bright colours, outlines upon outlines, and exaggerated drop shadows was my personal jab at the world of branding and in-your-face typography."

That's not all. Lampl became so engrossed in the project that she produced a lot of work that was never even intended to make it into the movie. For instance, she made a product poster for the SmartSpeek by Omnibro, which is that wonderfully defective machine that Luke Wilson's character talks to when he visits the hospital. You see the machine itself very briefly in the film, but the product posters exists just for fun.

The Story Behind the Bonkers Logos in Idiocracy

Other examples of fine-tuned detail include detailed packaging for products that you barely get a glimpse of in the film. These kinds of things show off how well Lampl's branding matches up with the movie's crude humour. It's almost uncomfortable at times—which is probably exactly what Mike Judge was going for. The Bawamba Bar wrapper is really the only example you need to illustrate that fact.

The Story Behind the Bonkers Logos in Idiocracy

You can read more about Lampl's design process at Trivia Happy. And you might also want to rewatch Idiocracy to spot her handiwork. Even if it is a little bit offensive, it's still funny as hell. [Trivia Happy via Kottke]

Images via 20th Century Fox / tehdawgz