Simplicity Is Key: How a Water Cooler Became the Duke’s Mayo Bowl MVP

If you know me on a personal level, then you know that I’m a minimalist at heart and that whenever I’m at the helm of designing something new I take a “less, but better” approach.

While there’s a lot more to simplistic design than meets the eye, when executed well, keeping things simple by conveying a straightforward message can help you create a successful product or curate a memorable experience for your audience.

The coolers we designed and produced for the Duke's Mayo Bowl sitting on the field at Bank of America Stadium.
📸: Bespoke Sports and Entertainment

Case and point: the Duke’s Mayo Bowl water coolers.

In June of last year, Duke’s Mayonnaise was announced as the new title sponsor for the Belk Bowl, an annual college football bowl game that is played at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After taking over the sponsorship, Duke’s, along with the marketing experts at Bespoke Sports and Entertainment, left no stone unturned when it came to personalizing the new Duke’s Mayo Bowl to complement the mayonnaise brand.

So where did JKS Incorporated fit into all of this?

Bespoke challenged us to create a water cooler setup that would not only be intriguing, but also grab the attention of fans as the winning team dumped water on their coach at the end of the game.

Sketch of the Duke's Mayo Bowl water coolers by Jake Tennyson.

Looking at this proposal through the lens of a minimalist, I saw a lot of potential to keep things simple. Duke’s already has an iconic look and their brand is tailored around a cylindrical form, so I thought, why not just scale that up?

The resulting idea? Create a set of water coolers that look like two giant Duke’s Mayonnaise jars.

Simple, right?

Given the timeline and budget of the project, we ultimately decided to take a set of pre-manufactured water coolers and customize them to achieve the desired look. Our talented production team added a flexible epoxy to create a smooth finish on the water coolers’ exteriors and used a truck bed liner to paint them with Duke’s classic yellow and cream colors.

After the water coolers had baked in our paint booth, we printed and applied vinyl spot graphics and sealed the water coolers with a matte finish to avoid causing any glare when on camera.

In the end, the water coolers were a hit.

Before and during the game, the Duke’s Mayonnaise and Duke’s Mayo Bowl social media accounts posted pictures of the water coolers out on the football field. Followers speculated the water coolers’ contents and hoped that the head coach of either the Wisconsin Badgers or Wake Forest Demon Deacons would be receiving a mayonnaise baptism after the final play.

At the end of the day, this project is the perfect example of how design doesn’t have to be complex or over-the-top to be effective. In fact, keeping things short, sweet, and to-the-point, helps ensure that your audience doesn’t get distracted or overpowered by the message you are trying to convey.

So instead of overcomplicating your next project, let’s do less, but do it better.

The winners of the Duke's Mayo Bowl, the Wisconsin Badgers, hold up a Duke's Mayo Bowl water cooler in celebration of their win.
📸: Duke’s Mayonnaise