Archive for August, 2013

Jay-Z, Samsung and the Art of Commerce

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It used to be that there was no greater crime for an artist than to associate with a brand. It used to be called “selling out.”

But recently that’s changed. Now the high visibility of musicians in popular culture have mixed art and the cult of luxury. Hip-hop, that uniquely American sound of poetry and upward mobility, is a great example of this cultural phenomenon. And if any artist’s career mirrors the co-mingling of music and money, it’s Jay-Z, the artist formerly of the Marcy Projects and now of the 1.2 million Samsung Galaxy app downloads.

In a deal rumored at around $20 million, Samsung bought a million digital copies of Jay-Z’s latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail and made it available five days early to Samsung Galaxy owners through a unique app. Though there have been complaints from various news outlets, including the New York Times, that the app is a front for an elaborate data-mining operation for Samsung, the move earned Jay-Z a million-plus-selling album with less than three weeks of marketing behind it. In an era of intense struggling for record companies, the Samsung/Jay-Z alliance stands out as an unequivocal success.

Surprisingly, what has not been a major topic of discussion is the association with Samsung. And this is mainly to do with the power balance that has shifted in favor of musical artists in the past 40 years. Through the Internet, musical artists have been able to find their audiences without the extensive web of middlemen, resources and contracts that come with recording companies, allowing them a direct line of access to their fans and larger profit margins. This is common for both small and large artists now – Jay-Z left Roc-A-Fella, the label he started under Def Jam, years ago when it became too constricting. He now operates without a traditional label, and is able to pick and choose the partnerships that will give him the most creative freedom while remaining extremely lucrative. Major corporations, such as Samsung or Live Nation (another entertainment conglomerate that holds a multimillion-dollar contract with Jay-Z), are willing to invest in an artist that has a big following, all in the hope of a big payoff.

For smaller brands and artists, the main benefit is an increase in brand equity. An example is the partnership between fashion label Saint Laurent (formerly Yves Saint Laurent) and Zachary Cole Smith, the frontman of the band DIIV (pronounced “dive”). The luxury fashion house is luxury but in need of a fresh update, as evidenced by its new creative director, the young and arty Hedi Slimane. Slimane’s selection of Smith, whose shoe-gaze revivalist band’s debut album has sold barely 50,000 copies, is a clear indicator of the future of the brand: young, fresh, art-rock. By partnering, Saint Laurents gets endorsement from a highly respected niche artist, and Smith gets exposure and elevation from a top French fashion label.

So it looks like these kinds of unconventional partnerships are anything but – rather than unconventional they are becoming the norm. Very few artists will elect to go it alone, since there’s no such thing anymore of “selling out.”

Written by: Caitlin Buggy

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No Friendlies. Just Football (and Guinness Black Lager!).

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Guinness Black Lager Photo Credit: Marc Serota

If you felt there was more football on TV this summer than normal (the European kind, not the ‘Merica kind) and that some of your favorite sports stadiums were housing teams with names that didn’t sound like they were in the NFC or AFC, you certainly were onto something. This summer kicked off the first ever Guinness International Champions Cup; an 8-team tournament pitting some of the world’s best and most prestigious football clubs against each other in a series of elimination matches. The tournament began July 31st at AT&T Park in San Francisco and traversed the U.S. for over a week, ending with the finals at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on August 7th.

As the title sponsor, Guinness had the opportunity to sample Guinness Black Lager at all the tournament locations. MKTG INC set up stations in each stadium’s highest traffic areas, sampling Guinness Black Lager and giving away ICC commemorative cups to hordes of fans (21 and over). With sampling teams that topped 30 in some cities, Guinness Black Lager made quite the splash, leaving consumers pleasantly surprised by the rich and satisfying taste from the lager’s roasted barley. Fans were also surrounded by concession stands selling Guinness Black Lager, most of which reported record sales on game day.

The tournament concluded with Real Madrid topping Chelsea 3-1 in a thrilling final featuring two goals by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, earning him Man of the Tournament honors. Over 20,000 consumers sampled Guinness Black Lager across seven days, marking an immense step for Guinness Black Lager and for football fans throughout the U.S. Some might even say it was a GOOOOOOAAALLL!

Written by: Charlie DeCrescenzo

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Is It the End of Men? Or Just the End of Marketing to Men?

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Mantyhose. Guyliner. The murse. These days you’d have to live in a prehistoric cave to not notice that modern gender roles are changing fast, and if a spate of recent best-selling books and big-buzz articles are to be believed, all these changes point in one direction: It’s the end of men.

Now before you go punch something, just look at the numbers. For the first time in US history, more women are in the workforce than men. Only 1 in 5 men of prime working age are employed. There are more female than male college graduates, at a ratio of 3 to 2. Of the 15 fastest-growing jobs in the US, all but two are female-dominated professions. Women in every segment of society are garnering an ever-increasing percentage of economic and cultural power.

To match those numbers we’re seeing a corresponding shift in values. Increasingly, quote-unquote “feminine” values (collaboration, communication, consensus-building) are being valued in the workplace over traditional “male” values (aggression, competition, hierarchy). And the cultural milieu outside the workplace is mirroring this shift, as a less traditional version of masculinity has increasingly become the norm. Culturally, classic versions of masculinity have become either a viral joke or just plain hated. Just look at the popularity of rico-suave spoofs like Old Spice Guy or the Most Interesting Man. Or the fact that absolutely no one on earth actually likes Seth MacFarlane. These values are being replaced by a focus on men’s fashion, men’s grooming, makeup for men, even homemaking.

But what does all this mean for us as marketers?

It means two things: Men are no longer what we think they are. And perhaps more importantly, neither are women.

Let’s talk about the dudes first. The New Man is a much more sensitive fellow. Some call him metrosexual. Some call him hipster. Some say he’s a foodie, or a sartorialist, or maybe an “open-minded adventurer.” But regardless of nomenclature, he’s more aligned with the “feminine” values outlined above, and he’s far more attuned to the cultural force of his sisters around him. In other words, he’s just as repelled by Seth MacFarlane as she is.

Now let’s talk about her — is she what we imagine her to be? Turns out she emphatically is not. Time and again we see that, contrary to what we’ve been told, women are as much a percentage of our target consumer as men. For proof just take a closer look at some of the time-honored pastimes of the man-cave: football, video games and whisky. The NFL reports that 44% of its fans are now women, and the league’s decision to put their marketing focus on the fairer sex has paid off in spades. We also know that women are now 45% of gamers, despite rampant sexism in the video-game industry. And as for the darker spirits such as whisky, long considered that most masculine of beverages, a number of new numbers have come to light to show that women also drink whisky and indeed always have. Not only that, but all those new flavored whiskies supposedly created to attract the more delicate palates? Turns out men like them more than women do.

So is it the end of marketing to men? Perhaps not. Let’s just say it’s still a man’s world, but it ain’t nothing without marketing to a woman or a girl.

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Written by Michelle Heller
Michelle Heller

August 14th, 2013 at 11:47 am

Enter: Nike Montauk Project

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971019_10151710611812976_1036652111_nPhoto Credit: Nike Montauk Project Facebook Page

Getting bored in the dog days of summer? Let Nike take you away to the Hamptons for the weekend.  Ok, ok…there is just one catch.

Yes, Nike will whisk 14 running enthusiasts to the Hamptons each weekend in August (until August 18th) for a three-day intense fitness and wellness boot camp aka Montauk Project. The mission is simple: Get Moving. Get Faster. Get Stronger. While Nike is the forerunner in future footwear technology, this experience is not affiliated with time travel nor the infamous Project Montauk.

How do you get an invite? Strap on some sneakers, Nike Free FlyKnits preferably, and join Nike Run Club for your chance to enter Montauk Project.  To qualify for entry, participate in any of the Get Fly program events with at least 3,000 NikeFuel. The experience includes runs on the beach, paddle boarding, massages, lifestyle and nutrition pointers, exclusive workouts with celebrity trainers and plenty of Nike gear! Can it get any better than that? Nope.

Stay tuned for the next Nike Running experience and click here for more information on Montauk Project.

Written by: Raegan Morgan

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Written by Admin

August 13th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

A Walk in the Office Park

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Focal Desk ChairPhoto Credit:

What’s the worst thing about sitting at a desk all day? Oh, just an early death. “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking,” wrote Martha Grogan, cardiologist at Mayo Clinic. Scientists call our sedentary lifestyle the Sitting Disease.

So what’s the alternative? Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway worked from standing desks. David Clarke, former editor of Vogue Living typed from a standing desk.Martin Keen, the inventor of KEEN footwear (beloved rubber-soled, closed-toe sandals) invented the Locus desk and chair – the desk has the angles of a drawing board and the chair requires you lean and not sit.

But one step further along the reclaim-your-life-from-sitting is a walking desk – that’s a treadmill usually set at around one to two miles per hour and an elbow-height desk. “I am writing this while walking on a treadmill,” boasted Susan Orlean in The New Yorker. “And now you know the biggest problem with working at a treadmill desk: the compulsion to announce constantly that you are working at a treadmill desk.”

Earlier this year, Al Roker tweeted a picture of his treadmill desk. Google, Microsoft, Marriott and Evernote are companies that let employees walk while they work. If you’d like to try it at home you can buy an Exerpeutic 2000 Workfit Desk from Target, while Lifehacker has lots of homemade options.

Writer Susan Orlean was prompted to take up a walking desk while competing against her husband and friends with a personal fitness tracker, just like Nike+ Fuelband. A walking desk gives workers thousands more Fuel points, fitness, alertness and a longer life, one step at a time.

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On Sandal Ground

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Sseko DesignsPhoto Credit: Sseko Designs

The Create Cultivate conference took place in Portland recently. Attendees made floral crowns with Erba Studio’s Riley Messina, listened to speakers from local tomboy fashion label Wildfang and drank Oregon-made Union Wine (is it local?).

The standout presentation was from Liz Forkin Bohannon, the founder of Sseko Designs. A journalism graduate from the University of Missouri, Liz travelled to Uganda post-college. Her firstthought was to set up a charity. Her Ugandan friends told her they didn’t want charity; they needed a job. She brainstormed different business ideas (a poultry farm!) and settled on manufacturing a sandal design she made for friends in college.

Sseko Designs is now Uganda’s largest shoe exporter and employs 46 people and has enabled 30 women to attend university. In Uganda, there is a nine-month gapbetween finishing high school and starting college. The gap is intended for students earn money to pay their fees. Sseko employs gap-year women and allows them enough money for university tuition.

“Our biggest marketing challenge is communicating a rather complex story and mission in a way that is easily digestible,” says Liz. “The reality is, we don’t use a simple model that can be summed up in a three-word tagline to help solve the issues of gender inequality and extreme poverty. At our core, we sell products and we need to be able to sell a lot of those products to continue to grow our impact. We try to tell beautiful and compelling stories of hope and opportunity. All of this makes for a difficult, but fun challenge.”

It seems to be working. The Sseko Designs website features the personal stories and videos of women who make the sandals. The Starboard Sandal was featured in the June issue of Vogue magazine. The brand proves that a little creativity and storytelling can take you a long way, all the way to college. Just don’t call Sseko the next Toms.

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Nike Lacrosse presents:

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Photo Credit: John Petrina

With the fastest growing sport in America (unless you count pickleball, in which case you must be 65+ years old) continuing to take hold of the nation’s youth, lacrosse was screaming for a truly premium experience that would unite the nation’s best together in one place.

Enter THE RIDE.  A term that has its place as an essential force of disruption within the lax vernacular (expand your knowledge people), while also serving as a nod to an epic journey that was about to begin courtesy of Nike Lacrosse.

With a 3-day VIP-style experience at NIKE World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR, The Ride provided elite laxbrahs and girls with a journey unlike any the game has seen before.  Leveraging the standard set forth by Nike Football’s ‘The Opening’, 100 of the top HS lax athletes were invited out for an experience centered around the New Lacrosse; Nike’s goal to re-define the game via training (SPARQ) and speed via the Fast or Last mantra.

In addition to elite training and spending time in a player’s lounge (dubbed ‘The Crease’) designed and built by MKTG INC with the lax athlete in mind, participants also rubbed elbows with some of the elite athletes in the game, including Max Seibald, Jeremy Thompson, Kara Cannizzaro, Michele Tumolu and Kyle Harrison.  ESPN analysts Quint Kessenich and Courtney Connor served as Emcees for the week, taking players along for a Ride that raised the bar for the future of the game and its next wave of stars.

For more info check out Nike Lacrosse on Facebook and Quint Kessenich’s first-hand account of the event.

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Written by Stephanie Rudnick
Stephanie Rudnick

August 2nd, 2013 at 12:28 pm