Of brand books and music

Rohit Bhargava’s Personality Not Included had a lot of things going for it to prop up book sales. Some of the innovative things Rohit did were getting bloggers to interview him, starting the Personality Project and having a competition to get a reader to have his/her quote on the back cover of the book. 

But Jonathan Salem Baskin has gone a step further. He’s made the first move towards creating a completely new experience for readers of his just-launched Branding Only Works on Cattle – a soundtrack for the book! He says: “I have aspirations of achieving something like the Beatles fame, only with the lyrics of Tom Lehrer.” He has plans for another two songs, and ‘maybe even an EP’! Presenting ‘The Sock Puppet Blues’:

New artists, and creativity vs. the financial crisis

Last night, I took in a couple of new European bands playing at a small venue in London. One was a German folk/soul singer called Sophie Hunger:

And the other was a Swiss group called Hal Flavin that played electronica:
Along with upcoming London singer Ryan Koriya and comedian Marcel Lucont (his bit on London Transport was really funny, have a listen), it was a departure from the kind of stuff I usually do on a day-to-day basis. 
There was a decent crowd despite it being Sunday evening, and I was wondering whether there has been any impact of the financial crisis on the creative performing industries at all. At the maximum, there may be less people attending their concerts (this one was free, so ticket prices were not a factor, but otherwise, for the non-hardcore fans – see point 4 below – that could be a factor). I think it is an industry that has protected itself well against the fall in the economy’s fortunes overall. This could be because of a few reasons:
– Creative people are less likely to take huge financial risks with their money, especially if they are yet to strike it big, so the downside is also not that bad. 
– They have probably already taken the biggest conceivable risk, of trying to make it big in an industry where individual fortunes rise and fall every day. They’ve seen bad economic times personally already (many of them subsist on things like busking etc.), so they think that it couldn’t really get much worse.
– They are too self-involved to realise the impact.
– Most of their real fans will still pay to watch them or, in relevant cases (where they don’t want to depend on pirated stuff online), will pay to buy their records anyway.
– They philosophize more than act on their philosophy of life. What thoughts they do have, they translate into their work – which goes back to the previous point and is insulated from market impact.
– In the case of comedians, people WANT to laugh in tough times. So there will be, perhaps, an even greater market for their work.

Mommy, look what I threw out the window!

Rob at Nonsense London just sent me their latest work that features legendary strongman Geoff Capes. Take a look at it here:

He says: “When it comes to ideas for virals, we have a pretty simple test for if they’re any good; we just see which ideas we talk about most. Not while we’re actually “being creative”, but when we’re down the pub. Normally it’s a pretty good indicator that other people will talk about it too. It’s not something you can force though.  You have to avoid thinking about it if anything! We also think about which ones we’d bother writing about if we worked in the press. The Capesy viral was so stupid, it fitted both bills. It’s working so far; there’s a load of comments on the YouTube clip, and ITV Central News covered the shoot!”

Funny stuff, and in keeping with the sentiment that a video is only really viral if viewers spread it, go spread it now! By the way, Rob also said, “Geoff was an amazingly good sport. He even researched different throwing techniques by getting one of the shot putters he trains to throw a gymnast! And the guys themselves were awesome – we just picked our hardest mates!”

Ouch – I’m glad I wasn’t one of them!!

Diversity adds to a brand

When I lived in New York, Kenneth Cole stores always got a second look from me. Their store windows were usually fronted by short pithy sentences, that – much like another Indian campaign I’m a big fan of, the one for Amul Butter – spoke about their products while drawing from current affairs. Their website, for example, has a video that draws on the American elections this year. Anyway, Kenneth Cole has drawn some positive press of late for their latest video/ad that is part of their ‘We all walk in different shoes‘ campaign. They’ve used a Punjabi Sikh model, which is EXTREMELY rare in the fashion world. To be honest, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other Western brand that has someone of a different ethnic background as the centerpiece for their campaign (Benetton perhaps, but they focus on a group rather than an individual). I saw an image of a Kenneth Cole store window that features the guy recently, on a friend’s Facebook page. He’s called Sonny Caberwal. Take a look at him (and the pretty deep message he conveys) in this video by the brand:

The Sticky-Note Experiment

I like looking at things in psychedelic colours. And I like super-useful Post-Its. So I was very amused to find the Sticky Note Experiment video by EepyBird (they are the people behind the Coke and Mentos video that created viral history in 2006). Anyway, Office Max, for whom the video was made, couldn’t have put ‘Life is beautiful. Work can be too’ in a better way. 

Can you imagine that EepyBird has grown so big that Coke and Office Max now sponsor them – that too to do (weird) things like perform the Coke and Mentos experiment all over the world?? THAT’s what you call successful advertising!!

The beauty of animation

Whenever I see things like this, I rue over the fact that I am not as skilled with the technical stuff. Carlos Lascano is a Spanish artist, who has successfully made forays into illustration, animation, comics, and photography, among other things. He has won numerous awards and is now a filmmaker. Here’s one of his most recent works, using stop motion and 2D animation. I also like the music, by a group I’ve been meaning to listen to more of – Icelandic band Sigur Ros.

A SHORT LOVE STORY IN STOP MOTION from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo.

Internet People – Who are You?

Dan Meth is an illustrator and animator who creates a lot of viral cartoon videos on the web, and now works at Frederator Studios, apart from producing and directing work for Nickelodeon. This video, called ‘Internet People’, is from Channel Frederator (a site that produces cartoons for Frederator Studios) and they call it ‘an animated tribute to the internet people of the world, wherever you may be’. I found it quite amusing. If you listen hard (and listen to it on repeat a few times), you’ll hear a lot of cool cultural references.

Sony Vaio’s Online Script Project

I was intrigued by Sony Vaio’s Online Script Project with John Malkovich. It’s been in progress for a while now and was completed in May this year. John Malkovich, as part of his involvement with Vaio, wrote the introductory scene for this video, called Snow Angel. He then invited people to continue the story and chose three winning entries. Sony then worked with animator Laurie J Proud through digital agency Dare to bring the story to life. Cossette Communications (which owns Dare) has written up a comprehensive case study on it here. The idea was to “create a campaign that would feature a well-known, but enigmatic individual who embodies the unique spirit of VAIO. The intention was to create an online window into that person’s private world. The perfect person to fit the bill — none other than actor John Malkovich, a long-time VAIO user.”

I haven’t heard of other instances of Brand + Ambassador + User-Generated Content being deployed in this way. Have you?