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DDB Düsseldorf & BIC's 'Universal Typeface' Now Available to Download

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MediaMonks combines digital penmanship and demographic data to make a single typeface

DDB Düsseldorf & BIC's 'Universal Typeface' Now Available to Download

More than 1.725 million characters submitted by people from more than 150 countries have been put together to form the first universal typeface. This typeface is now available for download right here

The “Universal Typeface” project was initiated to honor BIC’s Cristal ballpoint pen – of which more than 100 billion pieces have been produced since 1950. The experiment was created and conceptualized by DDB and put into effect by digital production company MediaMonks. A unique campaign, that manages to combine digital penmanship and demographic data from all around the world in a single physical typeface.

The Cristal ballpoint pen is the most-sold pen in history and often dubbed as “the Universal Pen“. The challenge of this project was to digitalize the handwritings of its users from all over the world, in order to be able to unify them in a single typeface. A typeface that is alive and continuously evolves through newly added contributions.

Users are invited to submit their handwriting on the microsite http://theuniversaltypeface.com/, which uses Mobile Connect Technology. This allows them to directly write on their smartphones and tablets. To date more than 1.725 million characters by participants from more than 150 countries have been uploaded. Participation has no time limit. New contributions are submitted daily. The website also features an area in which users can compare their handwriting to the ascertained average, and also to particular groups of users (selected according to criteria such as age, gender and profession). To make all of this possible, a unique algorithm that converts input into typeface results was created.

BIC and DDB Düsseldorf started their quest for the universal typeface in the middle of 2014. Since then the collected data are continuously being put together. So far the universal typeface of all participants, just as the specific typefaces sorted according to characteristics, could only be experienced visually, but as of now anyone interested can download these typefaces and actually use them.

Joris Pol, Executive Producer at MediaMonks said: “Figuring out how we could replicate the act of handwriting online was really interesting” said Executive Producer, Joris Pol of MediaMonks. “Handwriting is not only about feel but also about convenience. We considered many different options, including hardcopy approaches employing OCR. One reason we end up using the mobile phone’s touchscreen is because phones these days are as ubiquitous as pens. However, there’s no pen to describe how proud we were when the experiment hit one million contributions in less than a month.”

“Our handwriting is one of our most personal possessions. Since the BIC pen is one of the most ubiquitous writing instruments and billions of people use this product, we initially asked: How would a universal typeface look like? The now available typeface finally gives us an answer to this question”, Jan Propach, Creative Director at DDB Düsseldorf, explains.

“DDB has always created ideas that touch people and bring them together for a common cause, which is why we found the idea of a universal typeface so exciting. We used our technical expertise and modern technology to breathe life into this claim, says Dennis May, Creative Managing Director of DDB Düsseldorf.



Full Credits

Client: Société BIC

Claire Gerard, Communication

Agency: DDB Düsseldorf

Eric Schoeffler, Chief Creative Officer

Dennis May, Managing Director Creative

Jan Propach, Creative Director

Dominika Zajac, Art Director

Fabian Jung, Art Director

Christian Bueltmann, Art Director

Tobias Hecking, Copywriter

Sönke Bruns, Project Manager


Production Company: MediaMonks

Jouke Vuurmans, Executive Creative Director

Joris Pol, Executive Producer

Quinten Beek, Project Director

Nicolas Mollien, Creative/Art Director

Matthijs Klip, Data Creative

Willem Baas, UX

Elbert Niezen, Designer

Jorge Garcia, Designer

Maxwell Reed, 

Hendrik-Jan de Harder, Front-End Developer

Nigel Manson, Front-End Developer

Richard Mulder, R&D Developer

Johan Holwerda, Canvas Specialist

Chase Sillevis, Back-End Developer

Matthew Elworthy, Copywriter


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Media.Monks, Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:02:32 GMT