The inaugural 1996 Canadian Cancer Society’s Diamond Ball.

In 1995, I was approached by the communications and marketing manager of one of our larger clients to volunteer Baseline’s time and skills toward the creation of a new fundraising initiative for the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C.
& Yukon Division

Baseline was very busy at the time, we were serving a long list of clients both large and small, just the thought of taking on an additional volunteer creative and production position seemed overwhelming. But when one of your larger clients makes a request, well you simply acquiesce and hope for the best, plus we felt it to be a worthy cause and an opportunity to give back.

A volunteer committee had been formed and we met to discuss the immediate communication requirements for the inaugural Diamond Ball’s identity and graphic communication requirements. This would become an annual event and over the following 15-years, would help raise millions of dollars toward cancer research.

“We are going to call the annual event The Diamond Ball” exclaimed the Chair. “We will need a classy logo, stationery package and invitation package aimed at the well-to-do who will be invited to this lavish ball and dinner. After being wined, dined and entertained, they will be asked to bid on lots of lavish items that volunteers will have spent previous weeks and months procuring from vendors of expensive services and supplies.”

Limited to a 2-colour (black and metallic gold) treatment.

The 1999 Diamond Ball, 2-colour, gold and black with two colour duotones. Click to enlarge.

During the mid-90’s print was still dominant and expensive. Our first order of business was to engage the help of a print supplier (volunteer) willing to donate their services, which the committee instructed I take care of. Always difficult to ask fellow professionals to donate their services, and even harder when you know design by a committee of volunteers will push for more. That larger client, I mentioned earlier, was influential in promising a particular printer we used on a regular basis, continued patronage in the future if they took this assignment on. It was the only carrot I had to offer by way of securing their commitment, and the domino game didn’t end there. The printer then had to secure agreements with paper manufacturers, other finishing suppliers and shippers.

The printer requested we limit the number of inks to 2, and chose a house-stock (paper) wherever possible (4-colour today is a fraction of what it cost in the 90’s). Armed with these known and established production limitations, concept and design could begin.

The actual logo presentation went well, with a choice made from 3-alternative submissions. We decided that a rich black and metallic gold (2-colour as dictated by the printer) would give the overall identity a distinctive flavour. When the printer saw what we had in mind – “We hadn’t allowed for metallic inks, just a flat pms colour, now we have to look at more expensive paper and…*!?*#!”, it was back to re-negotiating the necessity of our decision and with some cajoling they agreed grudgingly to metallic gold and black.

For the next three years, each theme would have to be thought about in terms of this limited use of 2-colour restriction, although print technology and more importantly, pre-press where moving quickly toward computer-to-plate which eventually would make the use of full-colour (4-colour) a more affordable alternative.

My poor print rep never looked forward to the call each April, where I respectfully brought up the subject of the next Diamond Ball project. But in 2000 the printer announced “You could move to 4-colour, but NO! addition of a metallic please”. With a little work at convincing the powers at the Cancer Society and the Diamond Ball committee, we embarked on a completely new approach, providing more flexibility in conveying each years theme with colour, colour, and more colour, what a liberation from a design and illustration perspective.

2000 Diamond Ball

Click to enlarge. The 2000 theme allowed us to utilize 4-colour, and on the theme approval we approached Tin-Tin, a young, Vancouver illustrator who agreed to help and she donated her talents and time for this event.

2001 Diamond Ball, 4-colour and metallic gold. Click to enlarge.

Baseline continued working for this worthy fundraiser until 2003 and after seven years we felt it was time a fresh set of creative minds should continue working on this yearly event. We thanked the committee for their hard work and dedication and have watched as the 2010 event marked the fourteenth anniversary, raising more than $5.5 million dollars since its inception in 1996.

“We received the invitations, RSVP card, bag tags and envelopes yesterday, and wanted to let you know that we are thrilled with them! They look absolutely beautiful! The colors are great, and the silver really shimmers in the light. Thank you so much for all your hard work on this.” — Lisa Lockerby, Manager, Special Events, Canadian Cancer Society

All logo’s, photo’s, illustrations are copyright© registered® or trademarked™ by their respective owners.

Click to enlarge. The 2003 Campaign

2004 Diamond Ball. Click to enlarge.


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