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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 5, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    Purple is over as a colour and it’s all the fault of Ed Miliband, Heathrow and Yahoo!

    Laura Slattery

    Watching political leaders give game soundbites to news reporters covering the UK elections has left me sure of one thing: the colour purple is so finished.* Purple used to be cool. It was the colour of Cadbury; of Silk Cut; of clothes worn outside wine-and-navy-and-grey shaded school hours. It is also the colour of royalty and, according to playground humour (ho, ho, ho), the colour of sexual frustration.

    I used to love it. Now I think it’s an away strip of a colour.** Purple is the choice of politicians desperately trying to avoid the naff fate of wearing their party colours. So Nick Clegg, when he’s sick of wearing an obvious yellow tie, wears a deep purple one; Ed Miliband and David Cameron regularly contrive to ditch their respective party shades of red and blue for an apolitical hue that’s halfway between the two.

    The only things that rival silky political ties for purple-ness are corporate liveries, lobbies and logos. Eircom and VHI Healthcare both go for the purple-and-orange combo. Purple is also the colour of Yahoo! – former CEO Jerry Yang claimed on resigning his post that he would “always bleed purple” – and it’s the colour of the older signage at fraying-at-the-seams Heathrow. So that’s Eircom (in examinership), VHI (not exactly in the black, financially), Yahoo! (famous for not being Google) and Heathrow (there’s plenty of time to ponder its colour schemes when you’re stuck in its “unacceptable” border queues).

    Purple is also the colour of Hallmark, of Greenstar skips, of TV3, of Premier Inn and of try-hard E4. It was the colour of the sofas on ITV’s breakfast show Daybreak for the first few months of its flopped launch. And it’s set to be the colour of the “Boris Pods” that will be dotted around London during the Olympics to help confused tourists and ticketholders find their way to the toilets. It’s over-exposed.

    Purple is still the colour of Cadbury, which has even trademarked one shade of it, Pantone 2865c to be precise. This was much to the chagrin of Nestlé, which went to court so it could keep using a similar colour in its Quality Street assortment – you know, on the wrapper of the one everyone loves even though it’s got a hazelnut in it. But iconic confectionery is the exception that proves the rule. As long as corporate marketing departments and the over-thinking image consultants who dress politicians continue to embrace it, the colour purple will be worth about as much in fashion terms as it is in snooker.

    * Yes, this is a side issue, but, I think you’ll find, a vitally important one. ** Magenta is still okay.

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