I’m excited that I spotted this cultural marketing connection but as a fan of Nick Berkte (or better known on the YouTube sphere as Pogo), the execution on Scion’s behalf makes me frown a bit.
Here’s a sample of Pogo’s transient remix cut from a compilation of scenes from Alice in Wonderland. I discovered this one day at work, in 2011, while I was working for a brand that was a classic fairytale archetype. So there I am, deconstructing the history of my client’s story and it’s meaning in myths and trends, while listening to this on repeat.
I thought, “this is a little creepy…if anyone heard or saw me listening to this, they might worry.”
But apparently over time, I was not alone. Just recently I noticed an odd commercial by Scion for their 10th anniversary that seemed a little out of place. Then I made the connection that the entire commercial was remixed by Pogo’s aesthetic.
Regardless of my opinion on the execution, the idea behind this example is to understand how mass brands take on counter-culture, (or underground, indie culture) trends as inspiration (or just buy them out). It’s been happening since the 60’s when the term “hipster” was born and companies realized that the best way to get to this new found segment was to sell their own ideas right back to them, or at least use them to get to bigger audiences, since they were essentially culture’s trend-setters.*
Pepsi was a pioneer in taking on youth culture as a differentiating point (one of the first brands to do so) making a stamp against their competitor, Coca-Cola.*
The comparison among the young actors expressions in both commercials are strikingly similar if you watch it on mute.
Much has changed since then of course, (as Bob Dylan and every brand that’s purchased his song will never let us forget) but In 2013, it looks like we’ve kept a tight hold onto our historic consumer strategies. The only thing that’s really changed is the platforms in which strategies and ideas are executed and expressed on.
“Made in Italy” has become synonymous with quality, hand-crafted design. When it comes to furniture design, Italians have always been at the forefront.
When thinking about the future of living and home design, one can not exclude the future of work. The two are seamlessly intertwining, as the movement of freelance workers rise and productivity flies into the cloud.
“Smart” is the adjective of the decade. From geek chic, to the black rimmed-Buddy Holly glasses craze, to maximizing our potential in our spare time by learning how to be an “expert” in coffee grinding, butchering, dumpling making or under-water basket weaving, we can’t escape the information age. We also can’t overlook our super Smartphones that have turned every minute into an opportunity to share, connect, express, navigate and learn…with all of these examples (just to name a few) it is no doubt that “smart” is our decades’ sexy.
Cassina is legendary when it comes to italian furniture design. It’s most prolific innovation time period was in 60’s and 70’s but since then, little has been done in terms of pushing boundaires. Cassina is exploring the latest technology that applies to furniture by looking at how people are living differently today, asking questions like: Where is society going? How do you make a sofa that allows people to live in it? What does our home need to foster today?
Recently, the brand has been trying to reinvent themselves by taking on collaborations with leading designers such as Phillipee Stark and Karl Lagerfeld. But it’s not just sexy collaborations they’re relying on, (they know better than that!) — they’re getting smart, of course.
In asking all of these questions Cassina recently launched a pretty smart-ass couch called: MYWORLD FOR THE SOFA, which allows you to be “energetically independent” yet productively connected. In collaboration with Phillipe Stark and Duracell Powermat, the company merged high- design with smart technology. No need to charge your laptop or phone, just place it on the sofa next to you, and the couch is also a modulare system, so it changes depending on your current needs.
Cassina is a great example of how a business looks and reacts to the macro-view and overarching trends that have impacted a social shift. This is where furniture design seems to be going, and by asking the right questions, we’ll find companies coming up with fascinating answers.
For Ypulse.com, I took a look at some of the recent developments in rebranding princess culture for young girls, some parents’ desires for “real women” for their girls to look up to, and what brands are doing right, and wrong, to answer the demands.
The gender equality war is not only still very much alive, but also on-trend in pop conversations via every media channel, perpetuated mainly by headlines across the Atlantic, NYMag, Daily Beast, and by the new face of boardroom feminism, Sheryl Sandberg. Recently, photographer and mom, Jaime Moore unintentionally staked her claim on the subject for the pre-tween set with her series: “’Real Women: Forget the Disney Princesses.’ The photoseries that started off as a birthday present for her 5-year-old daughter has become a great cultural example around the discussion of what it means to be a “real” woman today. Moore photographed her daughter dressed as important historical female figures, and the images were an online hit. She comments: “I noticed quite a pattern of so many young girls dressing up as beautiful Disney Princesses, no matter where I looked 95% of the ‘ideas’ were the ‘How tos’ of how to dress your little girl like a Disney Princess…it started me thinking about all the REAL women for my daughter to know about and look up too, REAL women who without ever meeting Emma have changed her life for the better.”
Recently, Disney has been working on rebranding their definition of “Princess.” The company released an inspirational video to celebrate the princess inside every young girl. The rebrand of the classic female archetype has been reframed and redefined in terms of bravery, trust, loyalty, kindness, generosity, compassion, standing up for oneself, and standing up for others. However, not all strides by the brand have been steps forward for young female empowerment. A few months ago Disney also launched the video game for young girls; “City Girl,” based on the HBO hit series Sex in the City. It received heavy backlash for the simplistic and shallow value system that the game perpetuated for young female gamers.
And of course, in the makeover heard round the internet, Disney recently gave Brave heroine Merida “A Pretty Pretty Princess” rework with wider eyes, smaller waist, sleeker hair, and an extra sparkly dress. Merida’s bow and arrow were also removed, replaced by a low-slung belt. A petition on Change.org garnered over 200,000 signatures urging Disney to return to the original character design. After the petition gained attention and the backlash was widely publicized last week, Disney removed the made over images on their U.S. site, and released an official statement that the images were a “one time effort” for a “special occasion.”
We can’t forget that this is Hollywood and they’re not just in the business of creating archetypes through stories, but also need to sell tangible products. The selling points with Merida’s character can be a challenge when marketing the ancillary items of a character who embodies simplicity, robustness and bravery through her pale, subdued exterior. In other words, “perfectly imperfect” beauty is a tricky thing to sell when your daughter has been programmed to want a sparkly princess costume. In an interview with Pixar Portal, Brave writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, “Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn’t be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess.” The statement is very much inline with Jaime Moore’s sentiment about girls needing a “real” woman to look up to.
But while Disney’s idea to rebrand the modern day princess is perfectly on target, their strategy is deceiving and contradictory. Of course, a little glam goes a long way, but what does it mean to build a stronger, braver and more authentic archetype without succumbing to typical glam strategies? The glamour of appealing heroines today is being perfectly imperfect…but a real challenge for brands is how to sell imperfection - and figuring out what replaces those extra princess accessories when people want simple and real.
Dear William Gibson: I think we’re moving closer toward an even distribution of the future.
The video above is part of Y-3’s S/S ’13 campaign allowing the viewer to manipulate the video’s content on the Y-3 website (via V Magazine). As we’re adopting to new ways of viewing, sharing, checking-in, quantifying our bodies and enhancing the moment, we’re re-sensitizing our senses to meet new standards in order to adopt and prepare for “the future”.
“Douglas Rushkoff’s new book, Present Shock, discusses, “a world where technological advancement has allowed us to live in real time. The future—which used to be a destination that we marched toward—has arrived. We need not worry about the future at all, because we are living in a present that will continue forever. Now we must either accept that fact and use our new technology to create a happier, present-based society, or constantly fight against it, in a losing battle against an always-on, always-connected economy.” What does this mean in terms of how we live and think and interact with the world? How does this change business and person relationships?”
It seems that fashion brands like Y-3 are answering Fast Co.’s questions.
Phagwah, or Holi, is the Indo-Caribbean Hindu celebration of the new year.
Every spring, the Sunday after the first full moon of the Hindu calendar, Phagwah literally paints the streets as kids and families “color” one another with dye (abrac) and powder and chase away the winter grays. The spirit—and high-jinks—are like that of Carnival.
I had the great chance to talk trends and hangout with the team and community at Quirky:
WHAT IS TRENDSPOTTING? A Q&A ON PRODUCT, TRENDS, DESIGN AND INNOVATION @QUIRKY
For the uninitiated, Feedback Friday is a weekly broadcast (Friday, 3pm ET) designed to connect our online community and staff experts for an in-depth discussion of invention and innovation. Normally, these Q&A’s focus on a certain product group, such as Pets or Electronics, but last Friday, we delved into uncharted territory to bring you a very special broadcast on a very important subject: trendspotting. Across every category, a large portion of product design is motivated by consumer trends, from more tangible examples like wearable tech, to larger movements like sustainability and DIY culture. Historically, trends rise and fall along a bell curve, and while trend-based submissions have been a common sight on Quirky, we found that far too many were targetting trends on the tail-end of their bell curve, rather than rising trends that had yet to reach their peak.
To help our inventors get a head start, we brought in a special guest panel to discuss how the community can work trendspotting into their lifestyle and design process. The panel featured a trio of trendspotting experts: Maxine Gurevich, the Trends Editor at Y Pulse, Erin Mintun, Active Editor at Stylesight, and Mai Perches, a Senior Analyst at NBC Universal’s Integrated Media division. The broadcast covered a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the definition of trendspotting, and why it is important at Quirky, to practical advise on how to think like a trendspotter, and how to work the mentality into your everyday invention process. The results were thrilling, and we couldn’t be more excited to share them with you now: check out the video below for a full recording of the broadcast! Video streaming by Ustream
Masculine Double Vision at it again. A trend I first noticed back in 2011, Masculinity is undergoing an identity crisis. It seems that as we’re all living in a fragmented, multi-screened, networking world we may be looking to ourselves more than ever for comfort and support. Men seem to be at the forefront of this struggle, or at least the media sees it that way.
In March, a few more cultural manifestations arose; the new double-self ads for Mad Men launched to promote the new season and the ADD-driven, multi-tasking James Franco starred in two movies: Oz and Spring Breakers —both launched simultaneously. In Oz, he’s depicted as a dapperly cleaver man, invitingly lending out his hand with a sly smile, while his character for Spring Breakers is an aggressive, testosterone-driven, bad-ass. We see him acting his way through multiple characters no longer in succession but all at once.
Recent media images and brand campaigns are depicting different sides of one male self, either competing against each other (good old-fashioned manly competition), one side is used to comfort the other, or two-sides of one person is struggling to live equally. Whatever position the double-self is displayed, the visual representation of the fragmented identity is about mandating a conflict between two parts of one self, mimicking our fragmented media viewing experience.
“Disney has developed a new video game called “Disney City Girl,” which lets players shop and work their way up the social ladder. To win, all you have to do is defeat all the progress women have ever made.”
“In a real sense, we are what we quote — and what can any of us hope to be but a tiny component of that hubbub of voices distilled by books of quotations and epigrams? I have always found such volumes the most irresistible reading. They make it possible to channel-surf millenniums of cultural history, moving forward or backward at will, and plucking out whatever perfectly formed fragment turns out to be precisely what you were looking for. The endlessness of it all is enough to make your head spin, but that dizziness is arrested by the steadying compactness and solidity of the ideal quote — the one that stands there bare and isolated and unencumbered, tiny enough to be grasped all at once, yet unfathomably wide and deep.
At a certain point, in a necessary act of appropriation, you make it part of who you are, whether or not you ever quote it to anyone but yourself. Culture then is not a wall “over there” but the very tiles out of which your own thoughts are constructed. The tiles are variegated and of different ages and subject to every kind of manipulation and juxtaposition. They take their place finally among quotes of a different kind — the quotes that are quotes to no one but you, all the things that friends and lovers and family and strangers and random voices on radio or television have said that cling to your memory and come back at odd hours of day or night, the words that become part of an alternate canon of what has not yet been written down. Out of all that mixing, with luck, might come the rarest thing of all, a new thought or fresh insight that can take its place with all those other sentences, a quotation that waited until just this moment to declare itself.”