— THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

Another (relatively) enforced hiatus has prevented posting too much recently. So I’m going to start again with something small and smart to get the get the ball rolling again…

Years ago, Ji Lee (@pleaseenjoy) was one of the first artists/designers to truly realize the power of street art as a communication tool as much as a promotional tool. The Bubble Project provided a forum for people in NYC to create their own comments on the advertising that dominates the city. Happily timed around the rise of social sharing, the Bubble Project took on a life of it’s own. Spreading around the world.

Ji is now back with a follow up project of sort. Mysterabbit sees small (what looks like 3D Printed rabbits) dotted around the world. A collaborative project designed to ‘spread a little mystery around the city’ it has a simplicity and calmness that I love. It resonates even more so as someone who has moved to a new city recently, and am experiencing the joy of discovering the nuances and the gaps that make up the many layers of city living. It’s in that sense that projects like Mysterabbit always surprise and delight.

See more of the places Mysterabbit has gone over at the website.

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I love this thank you film from BReel & Google Chrome for the Google I/O Conference a couple of weeks back. It’s a simple idea exceptionally well executed, and doubles as a great succint guide to how fast the quality of the web has evolved. It makes you excited for the future. Which should surely be the point of I/O; which proved itself to be the most exciting and ambitious conference around.

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Sometimes the most interesting ideas are sparked by the most throw away of conversations. Just such a conversation became the evolution of this presentation: ‘Death To Online’ (a deliberately punchy title I’ll admit…) was conceived at one of the many, many portfolio nights that we have in and around the world of advertising. While not to give too much away, a seemingly throwaway line by one of the junior’s presenting their work, led to an exploration of where Advertising is going, and where it needs to head to keep Brands evolving and innovating. And, how the nature of our digital language is hindering this evolution.

When 75% of Agency CEO’s reporting that online ‘ads’ are more effective than traditional TV ads (when they are basically the same thing) it shows how far our digital language has helped deform and deny advertising’s need to work with the Internet as a tool, not just a channel.

One way of moving beyond the language of online is to delve into the vibrant arguments around ‘digital duality’. This debate is spinning back and forth between a series of cultural anthropologists with fervour and verve (and a smattering of pretension.) Their arguments are well worth the time to read and digest, for they form the backbone of what I’ve come to dub the ‘Semi-Internet State’ as it relates to Brands and Advertising/Marketing. It only takes a minute to look at the interest around Douglas Rushkoff’s most recent tome ‘Present Shock’ and the disquiet and debates around Google Glass to know that we are at a next significant stage of our relationship evolution with the internet. And the Semi Internet State is only getting more pronounced and difficult to penetrate. No matter how big, tagged, or trailered your ‘online ad’ is.

So… take a look, share and comment. I’m really interested in hearing people’s thoughts around this idea and the role of language in our industry.

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I love this idea. So simple, so nicely done, and a great use of YouTube. The problem was pretty simple (and one that I guess Orchestra’s around the world have…) How do you engage a younger audience in the delights of Classical Music? Using YouTube and some of the most iconic movie soundtracks of all time, the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra achieved a 40% increase in youth audiences for their new season of concerts. I love how this embraces YouTube as a communication tool, as much as a viewing platform to really bring home the point. It’s fun, it works and it strips away much of the pretension of Classical Music; which can only be a good thing…

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I’m an unavowed fan of Forsman & Bodenfors. While remaning resolutely Swedish in their outlook, their philosophy and output blends digital nous with creative inventiveness and a focus on craft that is hard to beat anywhere in the world. But I find their most recent piece somewhat of a missed opportunity to build a fully integrated digital and film storytelling device. As much because the potential of this idea, is the equal of one of my favorite pieces of creative in the last few years (for the same client; Volvo.) North Kingdom’s ‘Cross Country Travels’ platform.

Leave The World Behind is a collaboration between Volvo and Swedish House Mafia. While not exactly over familiar with Swedish House Mafia’s oeuvre, it’s hard to ignore their international success and place at the center of the exploding EDM movement here in the United States. The collective has now split up to pursue other opportunities (by the sounds of it, Playing MSG to a bunch of bro’s isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – who knew?) Volvo saw an opportunity to create a campaign around this moment, imbuing it with a sense of grandeur and pathos not usually afforded to DJ’s & producers. It’s a smart bit of tactical strategic thinking, placing the brand at the center of a very contemporary piece of culture.

The resultant film – ‘Leave The World Behind’ is a beautifully realized piece that sees the three protagonists go their separate ways and follow their own paths, with help from Volvo’s luxury cars; all soundtracked by a spaced out version of the title track (One of their most famous songs and their ‘breakout’.) Sweden looks suitably epic and sparse, the cinematography giving the film an epic that befits the level of success they enjoyed. It’s part ad, part film, part music video, and it’s great.

But what lets this down is the digital experience. The website (www.leavetheworldbehind.com) has some really nice design touches, and feels immersive and overall well considered, but it also feels like a vessel for video itself, nothing more. It doesn’t contextulise their (or the brands’) story in any way. The journey that the Swedish House Mafia have been on is clearly one of a scale very few performers get to these days (whatever you think of their music.) And ties them closer to the brand than mere ‘Swedishness’. Their significance could be bought to life as a storytelling experience, augmented by avalanche of multimedia that exists around them. User generated and beyond. By ignoring their past in the main interactive piece, it lessens the impact of the film, and creates a disjointed effect. It lessens the drama that the film is trying to elicit. Which itself augments a weak call to action, which seems like a classic case of just sticking a hashtag on something and loosely gathering social sentiment. Whereas it should be generating the very nostalgia that the powers the myth and memory of the band.

You may ask why this is a problem. Well, I’m sure for many, it isn’t, and I might be picking on something disproportionally (which is not my intention.) But it highlights a problem that I’ve been investigating (see tomorrow’s blogpost for more…) of just sticking things ‘on’ the internet as opposed to building things ‘with’ the internet. By avoiding building a digital storytelling experience around this (albeit) beautiful film, we are robbed of the emotional resonance that an interactive, immersive digital experience could bring to the brand and band. What we are left with is an advert that happens to exist on the web, which is a missed opportunity all concerned.

(Via Creativity. )

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A slight deviation from my usual digital orientated postings, I wanted to bring to the fore this fantastic 12 minute slice of DFA life. Produced to coincide with the Red Bull Music Academy festival in New York this month, DFA Records was, and remains one of the touchstones of my life musically. (I urge everyone to get this album from 2004: A DFA primer, it’s basically their ten musical commandments…) Their bands, their commitment to great music, and their sheer joy has fueled what much of what makes music so interesting these days, yet they’ve done this through one of the most tumultuous times that recorded music has ever faced, let alone record companies. (Whose woes are well documented and plentiful.) This film shows that passion fuels great art. And the best communication, always comes from the best art. It’s a great coda to the outright quasi-religious experience that was ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’ 

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I really really like what Goodby Silverstein and Wired have done here. Blending digital media, editorial creation with brand storytelling, the team have created ‘The Connective.’ A digital magazine designed and written in 48 hours. (Seemingly with A LOT of coffee and Red Bull powering it.) that helps articulate Cisco’s point of view on ‘The Internet of Everything’ and the $15.4 Trillion opportunity that implies. What’s interesting for me is how editorial content is weaved through a Cisco storytelling device. It works with something that I’ve been calling the ‘Semi Internet State’. Where our connected devices create disruptions in traditional media consumption, helping us live in a perpetual semi internet state. For brands, this means they must work with the flow of this to truly have an opportunity to connect and build equity in their message. As opposed to building bigger and noisier distractions.

This work fits exactly into the narrative of the ‘Semi Internet State.’ It is smart, timely and useful. I hope it gains some real traction and this is more than just a one off between these brands.

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