Archive for July, 2012
Photo credit: Rap-up.com
Product integration is nothing new. For years, we’ve seen it in movies, television and of course, music videos. As integration has gotten more creative in recent years, there has been a fair share of criticism, praise and even satirical TV episodes about product integration sponsored by the brand they are satirizing. But I don’t recall a time when I’ve seen product integration in… a commercial?
Jay-Z has just become the (invested) face of Duracell’s new Powermat, designed to keep your smartphone charged at all times. “Never Be Powerless,” say the ads, which I’ve seen all over town on bus stops and subway cars. However, they just released a YouTube commercial, which has attracted a lot of attention in recent days (I saw it when a friend posted it on Facebook). The ad features a young professional guy living his ‘crazy busy life in NYC’ surrounded by people with phones on the brink of death. He finally finds himself at a club charging his phone with attractive friends and accidentally picks up Jay’s phone when B(eyoncé) is calling. Classic mix-up/”Never Be Powerless”/end scene.
But let’s take a look deeper into this production. The commercial for Jay-Z’s battery charging system features Jay-Z’s song “Run This Town” while a club scene happens at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club and bartenders are serving bottles of Jay-Z’s (unofficial but official) champagne Armand de Brignac and then all of a sudden Jay-Z shows up? Holy crap… Did I miss anything?
Fortunately for the brand, most people probably aren’t as obsessed with Jay-Z as I… er… some of us and therefore won’t notice some of these minor details. But what an incredible brand Jay-Z has become, that he can seamlessly integrate five of his brands (including himself) into one commercial and it still doesn’t cover his basketball team, his beer, his car, his shoes…
With apps like Pandora, 8tracks, Shazaam, turntable.fm and many more continuing to change the way that consumers listen to and share music, one could argue that the music industry has reaped some of the greatest benefits from the world of apps.
While most apps thus far have focused on music discovery and content sharing, some (relatively) well-known bands are choosing to focus more on interactivity and empowering the consumer to do more than just listen. First up is Passion Pit’s Gossamer app, which lets fans create their own music videos via artwork from the band, while also providing an opportunity to remix certain tracks from the new album.
On the darker side of things, System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian recently launched a narcissistically-titled iPad app dubbed “I am Serj“, which allows fans to remix tunes from his 3 solo albums using a beat-sequencing app complete with “billions of loop combinations”, tempo and pitch effects and more. On the even darker side of things, Slipknot recently released a new app entitled “Wear the Mask,” which blends gaming, social media, and photography, and invites users to design their own Slipknot masks and find out what type of “maggot” (or Slipknot fan) they are” (via Rolling Stone). Note: This app is only intended for males between the ages of 14-18 who like clowns and hate their parents.
While it certainly can be argued that the reach of these apps will be limited to their existing fanbases (you probably won’t find the casual music fan eager to find out what type of “maggot” they are), it’s interesting to note the music industry leveraging the benefits of a digital world that they once set out to destroy (see: Sean Parker/Napster). In the age of Guitar Hero where even the most musically-challenged can rock out in their living room, empowering the consumer to be a part of musical creation creates a more active and engaging experience in a previously passive world.
For a great example of bringing music to the digital world and to a new audience, check out our post on Paul Simon’s #Graceland25 promotion.
Photo Credit: toughmudder.com
In recent years, numerous obstacle races have sprouted throughout the U.S. and have become increasingly popular among Gen Yers. People craving to move away from the ordinary find spontaneous and exciting outlets through Army-inspired activities like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. Unlike marathons, obstacle races are more convivial and bring a sense of camaraderie. New York Adventure Racing Association (NYARA) defines adventure racing as “…one of the few sports where completing a race is considered a victory. Adventure racing not only challenges the body, but the mind as well. Competitors must always travel together as a team, putting emphasis on teamwork rather than individual achievement.” Weekend obstacle races provide many young professionals the opportunity to unwind from the week’s worth of office stress and to fulfill their “live more” attitude.
However, participating in obstacle racing events can be costly. Costs come from registration fees for the event, performance gear, and course training. The brands that deliver performance, function and style resonate and succeed most with obstacle racers. GoLite is an example of a brand that has been successful in the obstacle racing area. It pioneered the “fast and light” revolution in apparel and equipment by offering products that are fueled for performance while maintaining minimal impact on the environment. Many participants don’t see cost as a barrier. Rather, they see obstacle race as an investment to their self-identity and an addition to their growing collection of experience badges.
Last November, I joined the band of adventurers and participated in Tough Mudder’s Tri-State event. It truly lived up to its claim of “probably the toughest event on the planet.” With the help of my friends and fellow Mudders, I was able to reach the top of a quarter pipe, jump into a dumpster filled with water and ice, and survive a field of live electric wires. 12 miles and many hours later, I’m fortunate to have completed this event with no injuries and to have bonded with my friends. From this, I learned that obstacle races are all about upping the ante on experiences and adding a zing to the weekend.
It was only a year ago that Apple Retail Chief, Ron Johnson, was announced as the new CEO of JCPenney. A year has passed and Johnson’s vision for the fledgling department store has come under fire, specifically from its pricing structure and the removal of the word “sale” from its vocabulary.
The company’s next initiative is to create smaller shops within the store. In time for back to school season, Levi’s, Arizona and Buffalo are the first concept shops to go live.
Levi’s shops will be in all JCPenney stores by the end of the year. Shops will include mobile checkout, a denim bar, and iPads to be used as another resource for shopper and staff including additional fits and product videos.
JCPenney plans for more store-within-store concepts for brands including Izod and Liz Claiborne. The retailer will also look into creating lifestyle shops (i.e. active sports).
Can JC Penney reimagine the department store?
Photo Credit: Cult of Mac
Every time Apple launches a new product, the rumor mill starts speculating when the company will launch a “mini” version. It happened with the original iPhone and even after five years, there is no sign of a smaller version. They did it with the MacBook Air and we saw an 11-inch version a few years later. Even with the iPad selling as fast as they can make them, everyone is still waiting for a smaller form factor.
According to a report from the New York Times, Apple will in fact be announcing a smaller version with a 7.85-inch screen and we can expect it by the end of the year. End of story.
Well not quite… There are two challenges that a 7-inch screen faces on being successful and those are differentiation and app development.
First off, I have been skeptic about something smaller than a 10-inch screen; I mean that is why I have a smartphone. In October 2010 Steve Jobs even shot down the idea when he said, “It is meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size.” (A little bit of a fanboy here.)
It has been two years and no other tablet or size for that matter has been able to overtake the 10-inch iPad. Things are changing though and much like the PC industry, various screen sizes will meet different needs for different types of consumers.
I got my hands on the newly announced Google Nexus 7, which Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal called the first challenger to the iPad, and the size makes sense. It feels great in your hands and with the upgraded Google Play store, it is perfect for watching video, checking email, reading magazines and books, etc.
We might be at a point in the evolution of the tablet where smaller sizes make sense for consuming content and a larger screen is reserved for content creation. Will people purchase both? Some people own a desktop and notebook computer, so we shall see…
The other challenge that Apple faces is fragmentation of screen sizes. More screen resolutions and sizes affect how developers create apps. Apple has a very strong developer community whose applications are one of the reasons for the iPad’s success. Will it be possible to throw a 7-inch iPad into the mix and make it easy for developers to build for that screen?
In the past, Apple has done a great been job at eliminating fragmentation by creating tools that help developers build for new screen resolutions. When the time comes to make an official announcement on a smaller iPad, we will see how Apple handles this. One hint was when Apple announced iOS 6 at their WWDC conference in June where one of the new features of the operating system was an Auto Layout API, which could be a clue to new screen sizes coming…
Want to get the most out of your Google searches? Why not use the same tricks investigative reporters use? Google Research Scientist Daniel Russell tells us how to get the most out of our Google searches at the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference.
As their final home-cooked tune-up before heading overseas to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, the USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams took part in a hoops-centric celebration known as the Nike World Basketball Festival in Washington, DC. As a follow up the 2010 celebration in New York City, MKTG INC once again had a hand in celebrating the game’s finest ballers from around the world.
The events kicked off on July 13th in front of the U.S. Capitol, where Team USA posed for an official photo shoot prior to the weekend’s festivities. MKTG INC was responsible for finding and selecting the venue as well as overall management of the shoot.
Nearby at the D.C. Armory, Nike, MKTG INC and others were busy converting a former Military training facility into a full-fledged basketball mecca. In addition to the hardwood, a Nike+ area was created on-site to allow consumers to trial and showcase the revolutionary Nike Hyperdunk+, while the Jordan brand offered a chance to create and share your very own Jumpman photo.
Both the Men’s and Women’s USA teams got things rolling on-court with intrasquad scrimmages on Saturday morning, with Jay Bilas providing color commentary throughout. The City Challenge was up next, which featured teams from all of the major cities in a battle for territorial bragging rights. To cap off the night, we celebrated local talent with an amazing performance by the Howard University drumline, into a 4 song set from Wale. In case you’re wondering, yes, he still has his Nike boots.
On Sunday the Armory played host to the Global Challenge, which featured the top high-school players from around the world on the court, and a who’s who of college coaches in the stands. Once the champ was crowned, it was time for the Nike+ Dunk Contest on Sunday night, where this happened.
The final event day on Monday saw things come full-circle on-court with a series of youth and community skills clinics. From Team USA to youth clinics in three days, the 2012 Nike World Basketball Festival celebrated the game for all ages in a fitting send-off for Dream Team 2.0 to try and live up to their name in London.
Photo by: Jordan Zuniga
Every year major Division 1 football programs dip into the state of Florida to recruit the best athletes in the country. South Florida in particular is said to be a hotbed of the best high school talent where many players are college ready at young ages. For this reason, Nike has made a concerted effort to become the brand of choice for these players that will eventually be suiting up on Saturdays.
MKTG INC recently assisted Nike with this years installment of the 7-on-7 football tournament in Miami featuring 32 teams in the ultimate showcase of skill and athleticism. In line with Nike’s current marketing strategy, MKTG INC brought the new Nike+ trial zone to Miami where players could compete against each other in vertical jump, foot-fire races, and jump rope drills while trialling the newest Nike footwear technology. The event was a huge success as the athletes competed at the highest level while being exposed to everything Nike has to offer.
With the positive endorsement of the event from everyone involved, it is possible that the Nike 7-on-7 tournament will become a benchmark for players to strive for in years to come.
Written by: Drew McAvoy
Photo credit: Peter McCutcheon
Complex Magazine Sneaker Editor Russ Bengtson just wrote this great article looking at the changes to the sneaker scene over the past ten years. It’s now a zoo of blogs, high eBay price tags, camping out in lines with machetes & baseball bats and massive trunk shows filled with obsessed collectors. But there was a time when it was a simple industry where passionate sneakerheads could go into a shoe store and pick up a pair as long as their size was available. “Oh, another thing,” he writes, “there was never any question whether I’d wear them. Of course I would.”
But there is something very powerful that comes at the end of the article: “The best sneakers have stories inherently built into them, but that is only the beginning. A truly great shoe should become part of YOUR story, and not just be something you take out on a special occasions or own simply to be able to say ‘yeah, I have those.'” I couldn’t agree more. For example, I wrote last week about running with the bulls. I ran in a pair of these. And I still have them, with holes and worn out soles, under my bed. When I was a kid, I rocked the hell out of some Jordan IVs (pictured here) in a (children’s) size 13. And I still have them at my mom’s house. I have a very special pair of Air Max 90 IDs that I designed as a Christmas present a few years ago. Although Mr. Bengtson wouldn’t approve, those only come out for special occasions. Different shoes have taken me on journeys all over the world so I hold onto their battered remains as living proof.
This is probably one of the first of many times in my life that I’ll say “I remember the good ole days…” which I guess means that I’m getting old. I can deal with that reality, but can I still rock my Jordans when I’m 65?
From July 13-16, as their last stop in the ‘Land of the Free’ before heading over to London to compete in the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, the 2012 USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams celebrated in Washington, DC. Overseas, the teams will train, compete and participate in youth skills clinics and community events in Manchester, Barcelona, and London. As part of the 2012 World Basketball Festival, the teams joined with NIKE to celebrate the performance and culture of the sport.
Looks like they had a ball!