The world’s economic paradigm is shifting quicker than Lewis Hamilton would in a Red Bull. Brazil has officially overtaken the UK to be the 6th largest economy and Africa is the new China.
The relatively recent growth of the African nations is based on rich commodity resources (but that’s nothing new), improved infrastructure and a generation of young folk wholly embracing technology.
However, the perception of change on the continent will be a tad slower. Decades of mediated images and reports of famine, war and dictators has left westerners with a single vision perspective.
Afrographique is a blog that consciously aims to change that through infographics based on economic and lifestyle data from the African continent. From countries broadband speeds, Co2 emissions to foreign investment in Africa. Created by Ivan Colic, an art director at Zoom Advertising Cape Town part of the Ogilvy and WPP group, is an interesting story in itself.
The repositioning of the African continent for the 21st century has only just begun. First step first though, and it’s an important one. Repeat after me; Africa is not a country.
What’s that saying; two things you can be sure about in life is death and taxes. May I suggest that the other inevitability is change.
Civilisations come and go, fashion and cultural trends rotate and someday we’ll all turn into robots. In the mean time, the global economy is imploding and the 99% are voicing their opinions on an economic system that has a few inherent flaws.
So where does this leave advertisers? Well it’s clearly not a time to only ‘sell’. One good and jolly sensible reason being that there’s generally less money flowing in the 99% sphere. This means an opportunity for communications that engage and create dialogue.
Inspired by some art house sensibilities, Motorola have started the conversation with a series of ads that pose an existential question of ‘What does Abundance mean to you?’.
Featuring a range of Japanese creatives and thinkers, each one in turn answers that very question. An interesting and innovative strategy that proves particularly poignant given the Japanese peoples’ attempts to recover from national and personal tragedy.
In times of uncertainty, nostalgia is often the prescribed remedy. An alignment with an audiences real concerns though, has to be the future. I’m not sure how radical the ‘brand message’ will get over on this side of the pond, but the consumers appetite [and taste] is slowly changing; becoming just that little bit more discerning.
Leading brands of the future will have to extend the idea of purpose to more than CSR policies, making them integral to their brand values and indeed communications.
NTS: a new community radio station based in Dalston, launched in April this year. The community in this instance is the bubbling sub-culture of electronic music influenced by a staple of soul, funk and jazz amongst others.
Their recent short gives you a glimpse into the beginnings of the station, their developing culture and a five-a-side football team. Que Umbro’s involvement and the second reason for my musings.
Umbro having taken tips from Adidas and Puma, have been quietly repositioning the traditional football gear company as a lifestyle brand, producing content featuring musicians Chase & Status, Liam Gallagher and Murkage and other sports stars.
En route to embedding themselves in pop culture, the Umbro Industries campaign focuses on supporting fledgling creative entrepeneurs in Manchester with £10k bursaries.
The trend of courting creative communities looks like one that will last for a while for culture savvy brands, ensuring buy in from taste makers and all that goes with it. Thus giving creatives alternative forms of investment from financial to profile raising.
If you’re an avid culture vulture then you’ll know that art, music and style are cyclical: the old becomes new, and the new inevitably becomes the old.
Whether any of the above are in sync with ‘now’ or not has little bearing on the notion of something actually being good or not. Having said all that, I do love to spot a trend or two. And one bubbling under the radar is the returning influence of reggae and dancehall culture.
Maybe it has been the impact of Dubstep that has seduced audiences into the heavy bass lines, but another thing I’ve noticed and been quite happy about is the resurgence of Reggae & Dancehall legend DJ David Rodigan. Recently I can’t turn for the mentions of ol’ DR’s upcoming gigs and features. Whether it be with Urban Nerds, Giles Peterson or his upcoming show that starts this week Thursday on BBC Radio 2 as part of a ten part special on the origins and current stars of Reggae music.
So why am I excited? Because Rodigan was one of the first DJ’s I followed as a kid. My fingers were always on standby to press play & record on the tape deck whilst listening to his evening time slots on stations such as Capital and Kiss. Later on I would go on to hear his live sets at sound clashes and at parties I probably shouldn’t have been at (sorry Dad!).
Looking like a cross between an accountant and a trendy granddad, when he gets on the turntables his skilful selection and feisty wit going toe to toe with the dancehall establishment is a sight to behold.
With a career that has spanned over the last three decades, what has made Rodigan an enduring force within music is his palatable energy, knowledge and enthusiasm for the music he so dearly loves. Here’s hoping that it will keep him going a few decades more. We salute you David Rodigan!
Empty spaces are becoming hot property at the moment. With our own Open Shop using disused spaces to hold community focused workshops and Libyan refugees occupying the empty Hampstead home of one of Qaddafi’s sons, people are finding new ways to re-invent the white washed window front.
I love underground music. I love music that comes from the heart, not the convoluted spiel of A&R reps and major labels that don’t have a clue.The problem with the underground is that for too long, artists end up with not much more than dirt in their mouths and kudos which doesn’t quite put food on the table.
Demon Sounds are a new sound design and licensing company who obviously think the same. What’s more, they have a solution; popularity through what I call ‘the back-door’ – music for games, film and television.
The brainchild of Kris Jones, Demon Sounds boast a stellar crop of artists and an inside-out understanding of the record industry. All of which puts them in a perfect position to bring the underground over ground, in turn adding some much needed credibility to the media industries ‘street’.
It was only a matter of time: the return of the tape cassette. I’ve been waffling on about this some time now, though I’m not one to blow my own trend-setting trumpet.
The tape release of Goldfrapp’s latest album Head First could well see the floodgates open in the near future, as other tastemaker artists / labels do whatever it takes to create commercial viability / visibility for their physical products.
The albums is of course available in the traditional formats, but I’m sure though that Goldfrapp’s longstanding relationship with Big Active will have no doubt forced the creative issue.