Opinion: Pantone should have just chosen brown
By Isabelle Bennett, Features Editor
Each December, the Pantone Color Institute designates a Color of the Year. Though the choosing of a king-pin colour seems about as significant as People’s designation of the sexiest man alive, the effects of this single decision are manifested through trends in marketing, merchandising, interior design and — for better or for worse — bridesmaid dresses. Historically, the Pantone Color Institute has made bold decisions representative of timely social and political messages, but this year’s colour, “Classic Blue,” appears not to say much beyond, “meh.”
It should be noted that this is not the first of Pantone’s selections to warrant pursed lips and a slow shake of the head — last year’s colour, “Living Coral,” is a perfect example. Intended to directly pay tribute to the ocean’s coral reefs as they slowly, painfully deteriorate in the wake of climate change, many felt the colour was too naively wishful, too unsuitably bright, too insensitively blunt or — unrelatedly — dang ugly.
Understandably, the Pantone Color Institute decided to play it safer this year, by choosing a colour intended to offer feelings of, “reassurance, confidence, and connection that people may be searching for in an uncertain global milieu,” according to CNN. To summarize, they chose Classic Blue. Pantone says this shade pays tribute to a sky at dusk, though it reminds me more of the sky in the 2007 default Windows wallpaper. Or the Facebook logo. Or the Google results. Or a box of Pepsi pop-cans.
Here’s the problem: beyond the items listed, Classic Blue reminds me of nothing. It feels artificial and corporate. If offered a selection of products in a variety of colours, I would most likely not choose Classic Blue. I own almost nothing in the colour, besides a myriad of free T-shirts I’ve earned over the years from sports tournaments, volunteering, and draw prizes — all of which currently lie in a spare pyjama drawer at my parents’ house. Yes, in my case, Pantone has succeeded in their effort to choose an inoffensive colour that fails to personally resonate on any level — a colour that I don’t like, but struggle to explain why.
I’m just one of the masses, though. For many others, Classic Blue presents reminders of political parties and sports teams and — perhaps most contentious of all — Sonic the Hedgehog, whose initial CGI rendering caused a whole movie to be postponed. It’s laughably ironic to consider the way that Pantone surrendered to the criticism of the masses — whether intentional or not — and are still receiving so much backlash. Thus, the conclusion I’ve come to is this: they should have just chosen brown.