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  • 08.01.12

A Fallen Seattle Icon Gets A Makeover With Help From Fans

The mothballed Rainier Beer “R” will rise again, but only with public participation.

A Fallen Seattle Icon Gets A Makeover With Help From Fans

Great logos can endure forever, but their earthly embodiments are inevitably prone to rust and decay. That’s what happened to Seattle’s iconic Rainier “R,” a 12′ x 12′ red iron sign with cheerful, bright yellow light bulbs that once stood as a glowing beacon atop the Sick’s Seattle Brewing and Malting Company on the city’s south end.

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When the brewery–which produced the Northwest-beloved Rainier beer from 1884 to 1999–was sold to Tully’s Coffee Company, the big “R” descended from its perch and languished for years in storage.

With the help of locally based agency Wexley School for Girls, Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) has launched a campaign to help the “R” reclaim its former glory. Dubbed “Restore the ‘R,'” the campaign relies on community engagement to help spread the word about the fallen icon and a recent effort to give it the renovations it deserves. Visitors to the official website, RestoretheR.com, can participate in a series of offbeat activities (e.g. “Shave an ‘R’ into your hair”) to show support for the “R” as it’s prepared for inclusion in MOHAI’s permanent collection. For every completed activity (users can also suggest their own) a new light bulb will be lit on the dynamic digital version of the “R” at the center of the website.

To kick off the campaign for hearts and minds, Wexley produced a stunning and evocative two-minute video on behalf of the museum and Pabst Brewing Company, owner of the Rainier brand. In it, various household objects emblazoned with, or contorted to form, the “R” (an apple, a stick of butter, a sheet of glass) move in super slow motion from destruction to a state of wholeness. It’s like watching a devastating tragedy but in reverse.

MOHAI plans to unveil the new and improved “R” when it reopens in a new location at the Naval Reserve Building in Seattle’s Lake Union Park on December 29. That should leave plenty of time for diehard supporters to grow all their hair back.