31 January 2008

People as corporations

Hello. I have scanned the column, so here it is.

New Next Feb 08

I mentioned this on Flickr, but I'm a small bit upset that For the Love of God wasn't included as a visual. It would have been great! It's a good shot of Jay-Z, but... well, here you go.

Finally got the text version, guys. Here you go.
People have been promoted as and acting like brands since the beginning of time, far before brands themselves even existed. From Napoleon’s empire to Martha Stewart’s, the most exciting corporations around are the actual people who started them.

Fortune favors the bold. We live in an ever-empowered world, where one day you can be writing a blog in a garage and the next you could be Nick Denton. You can go from rapping in Brooklyn to being a multi-faceted corporation courted by the UN. Or from young British artist to superstar and cultural influencer. Today’s creative class brings entrepreneurship to a new level: These people-as-corporations are selling their personas as much as anything.

>> Damien Hirst

This Bristol, England-born internationally renowned artist has helped democratize the art world as we know it today, bringing his often controversial works to the mainstream as few contemporary artists have been able to do. Hirst is now the most expensive living artist, having recently sold his diamond-encrusted platinum skull, “For the Love of God,” for $67 million (he played an active role in raising the price — and his own worth — by being a member of the investment group that purchased the skull). In addition to his art and co-running his restaurant on the coast of Devon, 11 The Quay, Hirst has also recently collaborated with Levi’s and designed a pair of 501s for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

>> Jay-Z

The Brooklyn native made his name with freestyle rapping. But adding to his net worth of nearly $550 million, Jay-Z served, until very recently, as president and CEO of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella Records. He co-founded the clothing brand Rocawear, co-owns a sports bar, the 40/40 Club, and is a part-owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA franchise. He doesn’t just own companies either: he participates. He has recently opted for being
co-brand director for Budweiser Select. Jay-Z has teamed up with the UN to raise young people’s awareness of the global water crisis. He’s acquired a property in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood where he’ll build the flagship for his five-star J-Hotel chain.

>> Nick Denton

With a love of journalism and a good sense of timing, Brit Nick Denton realized the potential of blogs in the early 2000s. The former reporter for the Financial Timeslaunched Gizmodo in 2002 and it was an instant success, drawing tech heads and gadget lovers from all over. Gawker came next and became the go-to for anybody interested in celebrity and media gossip. Others followed, fueling his blogospheric rise. Denton’s methodology for Gawker Media is quite simple: If he can picture himself and others wanting to read it, it shall exist. He must be doing something right; Nick Denton’s wealth from his ventures is currently estimated at almost $290 million.


30 January 2008


My intention for today was to share my February column with you, but the scanner room is currently occupied by a Very Important Phone Call. Instead I will provide entertainment in the form of a HEARTSREVOLUTION video. Heron wrote about HeartsChallenger last summer on our House of Naked site succinctly:
HeartsChallenger is a baby pink specialty truck from L.A. It operates in the same spirit as your typical neighborhood ice cream truck, but comes with some extra goodies. Founder Leyla Safai stocks the truck with rare ice cream brands from around the world, along with products such as Cobrasnake tee shirts, magazines, buttons, various mixtapes including some from her band HeartsRevolution and even toys.
So, a band. That's what HeartsRevolution is. a great band. This type of music (and video) usually has only been seen coming from Europe (namely France), but these guys – as Heron mentioned – are from Los Angeles (EDIT - There seems to be a little bit of confusion... someone commented this morning saying "Actually, the video makers are French : B. Lattanzio, J. Demery, G. Berg (but Latanzio lived a bit in L.A)." but GBH.tv says "This is some seriously slick LA shit (even though it looks like it was filmed in Barcelona or some other European city) being brought to you by two guys named Jean Demery and Bastien Lattanzio". I seem to trust both sources somehow... which will it be?) I saw their video for C.Y.O.A. this morning via GBH.tv and could not stop hitting play. I was excited to be able to understand the screaming Japanese in the beginning. The girl is cute, the colors are bright and the backdrop is the type in which I hope to find myself this weekend.

Enjoy, guys. Put on your silver RBK Customs and start dancing.

28 January 2008

year two!

Over the weekend, my blog turned two. I have been thinking about where to go from here. I was pretty set on moving onto a different phase in the form of a Tumblr page because it is my nature to express myself in little bytes moreso than in longer form, which I sometimes feel pressured into with a blog. But then as I was sifting through the past year of entries (to link back to particular ones), I got a little emotional. I don't think I'm ready to stop with Cellar Door yet. Things will probably just continue to be erratic, as always. So, some highlights, yes?


The following seven entries weren't necessarily written between 26 January 2007 and now, but here are the ones that get the most traffic other than my index page (mostly from search keywords):

  • An advantage of living in a small town - people tend to type "advantages of living in a small town" into searches for this one... I guess it's a topic that people think about right before making some sort of big life transition. [link]

  • Versadome - maybe not a lot of people have written about this, making my entry higher on searches and therefore clicked on. [link]

  • Lee Jeans Ads - I think this is because people are perverts and like to Google Terry Richardson. [link]

  • Naked Party and Russell Coffee - about our "Death of the Marketing Model" party in 2006 and meeting Russell Davies for coffee. [link]

  • We are the Hollow Men - presumably because the piece Dylan Trees guest-wrote won a "post of the month" award from Russell's blog... also because it's a brilliant piece of writing. [link]

  • Dasepo Naughty Girls - this one is probably mostly due to perverts as well; the search terms tend to combine the words "schoolgirl," "Korean," "naughty" and "girls" in various ways. This is one of my favorite movies though, so check it out. [link]

  • Heron the blind pimp - pretty straightforward search here: "heron blind pimp." Either lots of people know about this video he made, or... there is some famous pimp out there somewhere who is blind and also named Heron. [link]

  • I have to start storing my own images.

    These next three are the ones I think about over and over again a million times:

  • State schemas - the top top one. It's a phrase I made up; I love talking about them, writing about them and telling other people about them. [link]

  • Typewritten - this one's about analogue v. digital and taking pleasure in rituals (no not that kind, more like steeping tea in a diffuser and the like). I have been thinking about this a lot lately (I recently bought a record player) and want to write about it again but am not sure where to start. [link]

  • Taxi Driver - comparing the protagonists of Taxi Driver & Buffalo '66. I was trying to explore an archetype here but didn't get very far. [link]

  • This one deserves its own paragraph: my food photography project in August. It was a very cool experience even though I wanted to die for most of it. What ended up happening was my friend Jason thought it was neat and wrote about it on Mental Floss. Well, that gave me 700 hits in one day. A couple of months later, his writeup was a side link in a Mental Floss-summarized article on CNN, and I got 500 more! hooray. This thing actually got me a gig submitting my food photos for a new Mental Floss food trivia section, so hooray again! Also I was approached last week about two other photography projects, so you'll be hearing more about these soon.

    week color food set screen grab

    I apparently did a lot of thinking about music & culture, particularly with electronic music:

  • France, France, France. Para One - about music exploding in France and how much more fun they seem to have than the image-conscious hipsters of New York. [link]

  • Remix insanity - self explanatory title, I think. [link]

  • DJs vs. Socialites as the center of attention - related to the France entry. [link]

  • San Francisco and the UK - genre (music & fashion) blending? - also self explanatory. [link]

  • I still feel very attached to the entries I wrote about my Mom and Dad.

    And I still want to partake in this neon aerobics flashmob type of thing I wrote in Hallo Berlin.

    Was that annoying or unnecessary to read? hm. Of course I also met great friends in the past year through this thing, including Tristan (who gives me awesome little electronic musical toys he makes and teaches me how to say things like "I like gummy bears" in Japanese) and Sanithna (who is designing something lovely for me). Hi guys :)

    Thanks for reading, everyone. Yes, even you.

    14 January 2008

    VCU Brandcenter

    Last week, I started getting emails about Change from the VCU Adcenter. They linked to this site, where one video clip would be uploaded each day: industry leaders' thoughts on what change is. It didn't click until the second day that this was all leading up to the launch of their new brand: the VCU Brandcenter. That same day, I was linked to the AdAge article and we (alumni) got an email from the Managing Director, Rick Bokyo. What brought me from mourning to optimism - other than the fact that I trust Rick with the school - was this line:

    It’s about creating communication plans that include all touch points, including advertising, of course, but extending to public relations, the retail environment, packaging, websites, content, word-of-mouth messaging, new technologies and much more.

    I can't argue with that, not one bit. This is why I chased Naked down with a stick and annoyed them into hiring me (just kidding. I hope.). Everything Communicates, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of believing that.

    This weekend, I received a package in the mail. In it, I found two stickers.


    Then, out came a card.

    card front

    card back

    The text reads:

    From the confines of four brick walls in the heart of Richmond, VA, students have bred a contagious new strain of thought – one that suggests the most effective brand experiences are engineered by fusing the minds of strategic thinkers and creative visionaries. If this letter has fallen into your hands, it is because you area already infected.

    So, the VCU Adcenter is now the VCU Brandcenter. The name change, the logo change, the move from a cramped suite in an office building to its own Clive Wilkinson-designed palace building. It's definitely been talked about. a lot. Maybe that's why I wasn't going to write about it. Most probably though: as I mentioned, I was in mourning. I saw the VCU Adcenter logo and its star get literally erased in one of those Change videos and almost cried. But you know what? I have to get over it. After getting through my initial bratty knee-jerk reaction, I am starting to be optimistic about this VCU Brandcenter. I was telling Mike about this and he said "Well, people are always resistant to change. Before, we were a bunch of ad kids, trying to be creative and professional. [Rick]'s trying to make us more legitimate." I'm always going to miss "the old days." But he's right.

    11 January 2008

    New Next 08 [on retail]

    For some reason we haven't received the January issue of Media Magazine yet, so I haven't gotten the chance to show you that column. Well, they were very nice and just sent me the PDF, so here you guys go. It's about retail as an underutilized channel (more interesting than it sounds, actually; I was initially dreading writing it but then had a super time doing so!).

    New Next Jan 08

    Here is the text, for those of you who want fewer (i.e. zero) clicks:
    When you work in advertising and media circles, the thought of retail communications can be a dull one, bringing to mind uninspired point-of-sale displays and staff push tactics. Retail executions from the same said agencies are, for the most part, produced as an afterthought, often containing the same messaging as the rest of a campaign as though a consumer will behave with all touch points in the same way.

    Often, the most creative we can be is with a shelf wobbler. When you consider the huge opportunity to give consumers an experience in which to physically immerse themselves; retail can be the missing link to establishing a full connection with your brand.

    Apple got it right years ago: They transformed the torturously lackluster computer purchasing experience into a beautifully simple and service-focused one that truly matched the aesthetic of the rest of the brand. Today, some argue that the best ad Apple ever produced was its store.

    Supreme is a NYC-based skate brand that keeps their consumers in mind: A few years ago they installed an immense plywood skate bowl into their multistoried Los Angeles store. Inspired by the empty swimming pools that were home to skateboarders in the 1970s, the formerly unused piece of retail space was transformed into something that helps customers interact with the brand.

    Benjy's, one of the biggest sandwich retailers in the UK, unveiled their "Delivered" service in 2003. They drive to business parks with "vanchised" vans that unfold into fully functional coffee and sandwich shops. (Think the poshest roach coach ever.) This was both good for the consumers and also gave Benjy's the opportunity to enter into areas where they previously had no presence.

    Uniqlo remains consistent in its theme of accessible simplicity: Before it opened its doors in New York's SoHo, the retailer moved crate-like pop-up stores around the city to show that the affordable and label-free clothing was shipped straight from Tokyo and made accessible to us. Their Japanese design philosophy translated perfectly to the store, neatly stacking and lining up brightly-colored clothes - a retail design style that is usually reserved for high-priced fashion houses and boutiques in the United States. Uniqlo also opened a concept store called UT that celebrates the democratization of the T-shirt. When the store opened, the four-story space was stocked with nothing but T-shirts in clear plastic canisters and at affordable prices, designed by avant artists like Terry Richardson and Gareth Pugh.

    When retail is needed in the marketing mix, look at it as an exciting opportunity instead of a burden. Make the move beyond the window clings.
    The next one will be published in about two weeks, which was even more fun to write because I got to do a ton of research on Damien Hirst. And that's all the teaser you get for now. Have a great weekend everyone.

    [x-posted to House of Naked]

    07 January 2008

    The curse of knowledge

    Last winter, I wrote the May2007 issue of New Next in which I interviewed Heron. Now a full-timer at Naked New York, he was initially hired as an intern. The column focused on choosing your interns wisely, sort of, but also spoke about how we like to hire people at Naked:

    The hiring is very strategic here - Naked celebrates diversity of experience in a calculated way. Another intern is from Luxembourg and speaks six languages; we have youth culture and entertainment marketing experts; we have digital jacks-of-all-trades; we have management and research veterans; we have creative strategists, and lots more. With all of us coming from interesting places and having strengths in interlinked areas, we can pool resources to develop more well-rounded (and less generic) solutions to our clients' business issues.

    Whether you're hiring an intern, a junior or anybody else, always keep your eyes open for the brilliant misfits. You might find them straight out of school, breaking out of a traditional agency or at a recording studio. The key is to look for good people rather than a skill set. Young people are eager to consume and produce stimuli; they have unrestrained and untainted views on the changes that happen every day in our industry. This new generation has fast-forward futures ahead. If you ignore them, you surely will have a future behind you.

    I just read a semi-recent article in the NYTimes about the "curse of knowledge" : "...a phrase used in a 1989 paper in The Journal of Political Economy, means that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your conversations with others in the field are peppered with catch phrases and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated." We have since hired a Clinical Psychologist and someone with an advanced degree in Cultural Studies, among others... they always have interesting things to say and angles from which they approach situations; we also don't have to worry about hearing things like "user generated content" or "paradigm shift" ;)

    The article is fascinating and looks at this topic in a way I hadn't thought of before. My favorite line is "When experts have to slow down and go back to basics to bring an outsider up to speed, she says, “it forces them to look at their world differently and, as a result, they come up with new solutions to old problems."" I frequently have noticed that when explaining something I know a lot about to someone who doesn't, I get really excited and want to fly out of the room to do something, anything... go to a museum, write a letter to someone, play my piano, etc. I wonder if it's because while I'm doing said thing (typing code, trying to write a strategy, etc.), I am too far into the familiar "process" to really think about what makes up what I'm doing. Thus, breaking it down helps me remember everything that makes it up, and I get excited all over again. Does this happen to any of you?

    Check out Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike here (I found out about it - unsurprisingly! - from Creative Generalist).

    [The image is called Song in a Minor Key from Snailbooty on Flickr... it was on the first results page when I typed in "minor key," something I'm mildly obsessed with that I often find myself explaining to people (and as a result getting excited /inspired /flying out of the room)] Apparently s/he had a problem with my using the image (or maybe not), but Song in a Minor Key is private now. Searching "most interesting" under "schema" (another love of mine) produced this cute Fiat model photo, from parri67's photo stream. _

    02 January 2008

    Top songs of the 90s?

    Warning: This is a video-laden entry.

    I went to Florida for a week for the holidays. When I'm there, I have the tendency to watch a ton of terrible television. One of the things I spent hours watching was VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s. It wasn't terrible at the time... it was fun to watch because a huge portion of those songs were very instrumental in my angsty teenage years, as they were with a lot of you (maybe). The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that there were some HUGE OMISSIONS in there that I cannot understand for the life of me. Thinking about them made me want to hear them /watch the videos, so here they are.

    No Doubt: There was no No Doubt on the list. none. Out of 100 songs of the 1990s, no No Doubt. Whether or not you like them, there was no way to get away from them when you turned the TV on. I can't decide whether it should have been Just A Girl (which put them on the map and was an anthem for girls everywhere) or Don't Speak (which showed how versatile they were).

    Speaking of (sort of), there was no Bush on the countdown. I feel like Glycerine should have been on there, my roommate thinks it should have been Everything Zen. Their Mouth remix was still my favorite (or Machinehead).

    I did NOT like this song, but it was still very popular. Dishwalla - Counting Blue Cars

    This omission stunned me. Who could forget one of the biggest songs from Empire Records? Gin Blossoms - 'Till I Hear It From You

    I might be able to understand why this one was left out, MAYBE. But it was one of my favorite songs and I was sad to not see it on the list. Superdrag - Sucked Out

    Like it or not, this song was huge when I was in 7th grade. Seal - Kiss From A Rose

    There was no Sponge on the list. Would it have been Plowed (Sony BMG disabled embedding, wth), or Molly?

    Candlebox - You. Was this just huge to me? I am never sure when it comes to songs whose videos didn't get ridiculous rotation (like No Doubt's did. I still can't get over that).

    Tonic - If You Could Only See (another video with disabled embedding from the label. Why?)

    Soul Asylum - Runaway Train (come on.)

    I feel like these songs (and probably some others - comment with any omissions I may have missed myself) definitely definitely should have made the list. I am not sure which ones I would take out though; as much as I hate songs like EMF's Unbelievable, they were still pretty instrumental in the "music of the 90s" thing. I don't know, maybe they should have made it The 150 Greatest? _
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