Strategic design agency Trollbäck + Company (T+Co) recently created the show open and graphics package for the new HBO comedy series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Presenting a satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver debuted on HBO on April 28.
Led by creative director Kelli Miller, T+Co designed the graphics to encapsulate the humor and wit behind John Oliver’s brand of news parody.
Each episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” features a mix of topical commentary, pre-taped pieces, and often an interview. T+Co’s visual language needed to convey the show’s tone and format while differentiating the brand from other series.
“All involved in the show – HBO, the showrunners and John Oliver – stressed that they were not looking for a parody of news, but rather something that expressed their unique perspective on the genre that they could own,” said Miller. “We explored ways to trope and highlight familiar topics that make up the news and media. Metaphors such as our ‘curiosity cabinet,’ which is filled with iconic topical objects, were the perfect solution.
“The open needed to be subtly funny and smart because John Oliver is a very understated and clever comedian,” Miller added. “It was important that the overall show packaging convey the heightened sophistication and production value of the program, which is instantly elevated by its once-a-week airing, not to mention the HBO pedigree.”
T+Co relied on dry, tongue-in-check iconography and faux Latin labels. Miller explains the modularity of the concept made it even more appealing: “It’s easy to imagine swapping out new topical objects as the show progresses. This dense visual language keeps the open fresh. In fact, you’re not likely to ingest all that is happening in one viewing, so our hope is that audiences discover new objects each week.”
The graphics draw on topical current events and pop culture icons. Miller explained that the company was conscious of touching on hot-button issues like gun control, LGBT rights and world politics while balancing it with pop culture topics like Silicon Valley, obesity and Hollywood. In addition, it was important to stay away from topics that might disappear from the media too quickly.
“Going into this project, we were already huge fans of the news parody genre,” said Miller. “As both a comedy and an HBO fanatic, this was a dream project. Collaboratively, they were supportive and encouraging of our vision. We were all on the same page conceptually from the start, which made the project a breeze.”