We’ve discussed the soap opera roots of brand entertainment. But when did brand entertainment begin to take on the forms we see today? There is a remarkable difference between today’s brand entertainment and the 1960s television soap operas that P&G created to increase their brand awareness—we specify television because the practice originally started with radio soaps in the 1930s. Today we experience the symbiotic evolution of media and advertising on a whole new level. At what point did this integration begin?
We think in 2001 with the series of short films, “The Hire.” Created to pitch the BMW line of automobiles, these films focused on a central character, the driver, whose harrowing adventures highlighted the maneuverability and style of the BMW line. The driver was played by an ultra-slick Clive Owen, back when he seemed a lock for the next James Bond and Daniel Craig was some guy with a bit part in the immortal Tomb Raider.
Each of the eight films averaged about ten minutes and they were released on the BMW website from 2001-2002. That’s four years before YouTube, six years before hulu and Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.
The beauty of these films is that they illustrated the excellence of the BMW but in a non-traditional way. By combining A-list actors/entertainers including Owen, Don Cheadle and Madonna, brilliant directors Ang Lee, Tony Scott and Guy Ritchie and excellent scripts and camera work, BMW reached consumers on a whole new level. Rather than force a product down your throat, these shorts engaged viewers in a world that was sexy, sleek and captivating and just so happened to highlight the BMW.
Even with the amazing technological advancements since 2001, much of the branded content we see today remains similar to “The Hire.” At PLUM, we believe we are ready for the next evolution of what we call brand (not branded) entertainment. Just as soaps moved from radio to television, brand entertainment has been transitioning from shorts like “The Hire” to fully-fledged features, television series, video games, music and many more new media forms and platforms that we are expanding on at PLUM.
On the heels of a spectacular Memorial Day weekend and one hell of an office party last week, I made a startling discovery. PBR is actually awesome.
Pabst Blue Ribbon (for those of you living under a rock) is a cheap domestic beer. Beloved by the average American for many years, it was adopted by the Williamsburg hipster, similar species native to Portland, and denizens of other ironic areas. Hipsters have been enjoying PBR (ironically of course) for the better part of a decade, and the PBR hipster romance seems to be going strong. Just in case the spark ever fades, the Pabst Blue Ribbon company proudly brews 12 other once defunct classic beers, including another gem, Schaefer. Schaefer at one time held the title of world’s best selling beer until being overtaken by some beer called Budweiser, but that’s a story for another day…
Plain and simple, PBR is a great cheap beer. But beyond this basic fact, how has PBR managed to cultivate such a following and assume its place on menus from the dingiest basement bars of Bed-Stuy to the trendiest restaurants of the West Village—where it’s paired with whiskey and pickle juice—to the grocery aisles of Gristedes? Certainly not through the kind of overt marketing that has brought us words like ‘drinkability’ and bottles with all sorts of grooves and other unnecessities. It’s a prime example of a grassroots movement coupled with a product that can back it up.
Bottom’s up to Pabst for making it cool and fashionable to be seen with a dirt-cheap beer in hand and for making it the talk of beer convos coast to coast…all without Madison Ave 30 second TV telling us to drink the stuff.
Sound off in the comment section. Why do you like/dislike PBR? What’s given PBR its resurgence?
So summer officially starts on June 21st. Big whoop. PLUM is ready to celebrate now! It’s warm, the sun is shining (mostly), and New Jerseyites have begun to invade every roof deck and riverside bar in Manhattan. Sounds a lot like summer to me. So bust out the sangria, dust off the golf clubs (or bocce, if that’s your thing), bust out those shorts your girl/boyfriend hates and get ready for the time of year that makes you forget the winter (Note: Southern Californians, we get it, you don’t have winter, you also don’t have souls…)
Things we love about summer:
PLUM has planned a little celebration for this evening and all of the above will be featured prominently. Not actually, but we will have good tunes and fresh sangria (Papa Mouhteros’s special recipe).
Been a busy week here, but it’s always important to take some time to appreciate the finer things in life. Behold the latest and greatest marketing invention.
Once your frothy Guinness has been poured to the brim you get a QR code that allows you to check in at the bar on foursquare, tweet about the beer, or just show off that fancy smart phone. Regardless, next time I’m at a bar and they have this you bet your ass I’m ordering a Guinness to try it out.
Read more from our friends at Mashable.
What do you think? Cool? Lame? Somewhere in between?
So last night I had a chance to see The Avengers in 3D (because everything is in 3D whether you like it or not…can’t wait for Merchant Ivory to get on this too.) After overcoming my initial shock at $32 for tickets for my date (woo!) and me, I settled in for one of the more enjoyable cinematic experiences I’ve had in a while.
I don’t get to go to the movies nearly as much as I would like. But I do see enough releases to notice obvious trends, such as the sheer domination of super hero movies these days. Now, on my blogger’s honor, I’ll rattle off those that come to mind in the past couple of years:
- Green Lantern
- Captain America
- Iron Man I
- Iron Man II
- Batman The Dark Knight
- Wolverine (Don’t know the exact name)
- X-Men First Class
- The Avengers
I could google and come up with three times as many, but that took three seconds and proves my point. There are tons of these films coming out, and we’ll probably see another by the time I post this. You’ll notice a couple of trends. Many of these films are great. Some are average. Plenty are terrible.
I’m a child of the early 90s and had my share of comics and trading cards. Let’s say I was at least a big enough fan to recognize the Stan Lee cameo and know the name of the grinning villain at the end of The Avengers (great cliffhanger). Simply put, seeing my favorite Marvel cards come alive on the big screen starting over the past decade has been pure awesomeness.
It also got me thinking. Are super hero flicks the westerns of my generation? I remember my dad making me sit through classics like Shane and High Noon as a kid. They weren’t complete snore fests, but they lacked much of the razzle-dazzle of Beverly Hills Cop III (EPIC theme song) or whatever else I was watching then, and certainly pale in comparison to Chris Nolan’s latest triumphs.
But seriously, in a day and age where we average one good western every four years, have super hero flicks taken over that role? The Avengers certainly had a good deal of grit, machismo, and patriotism—all key elements of the classic western films of bygone eras. Protagonists like the grizzled Wolverine have more than a little cowboy in them.
Perhaps not a perfect comparison, but food for thought. What do you think?
Oh and see The Avengers, it’s pretty entertaining and will probably out gross some other 3D flick called Avatar.
Fact. We live in a smart phone society. And everyone between the ages of four and 95 has a handheld device capable of doing everything from making a dog whistle to paying for lunch. Higher resolution, longer battery life, and endlessly entertaining apps have only increased our engagement with our iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry other device. Let’s be serious though, for 99% of us, the smartphone is a pocket sized altar where we happily sacrifice the last shreds of our attention span. Words with Friends, Gifture, Instagram (or should I say facebook)— there’s really nothing ‘smart’ about how we use these priceless wonder-gadgets.
So let us take a moment to salute those using smartphones to create something of meaningful value. Recently filmmakers (mostly documentary) have been using smartphones to create a range of work. The tiny multipurpose gadgets can often go where traditional cameras and tripods can’t—something well documented in the ongoing uprisings of the Arab spring. But unlike the half-hazard-footage-gone-viral usually associated with smart phones, this past year saw the creation of polished smartphone films.
Al Jezeera recently released Song of Defiance, a documentary created by an undercover reporter risking his life to document the Syrian people’s struggles under the brutality of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Yes the shots are at times shaky, the interviews lacking in multiple angles, but the film shows a polish nonetheless. The creation of such a documentary is simply not safe or possible without smartphones.
A film of a different vein, Andrew Neel’s King Kelly took SXSW by storm offering searing critique of modern technology’s ‘me culture’. Neel and his crew shot the film almost entirely on iPhones, a ‘found footage’ style that highlights the central character’s obsession with documenting and ‘sharing’ her life online. King Kelly is quite an evolution from the Blair Witch Project’s pioneering of found footage, and it breeds horror of a different nature, exposing the sexually charged and technologically driven narcissism engulfing our society. A shout out to PLUM collaborator Ed Vassallo, who was a producer for King Kelly.
Most strikingly Jafar Pahani’s This is Not a Film proved the darling of many film festivals. The critically acclaimed Iranian director has been placed under house arrest and banned from making or writing films by the Iranian government. Nonetheless he used a smartphone to craft this ‘effort,’ a profile of his day to day existence in captivity in Tehran. Smuggled across the boarder in a cake (not kidding) it shows the capabilities of a smart phone both stylistically and more importantly as a weapon against censorship.
So next time you’re crafting your next masterpiece on Viddy, put in the extra effort. You and your smart film may be the next stars at Cannes.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Al Jezeera, Andrew Neel, Cannes, Creativity, Documentaries, Ed Vassallo, Film, Jafar Pahani, Journalism, King Kelly, Phones, Smart Phones, Song of Defiance, Technology, This Is Not a Film
That’s Staten Island Sounds at Snug Harbor. An awesome exhibition about to open…we thought we’d simply repost the exhibition’s info below.
Island Sounds: A 500-Year Music Mash Up
May 12, 2012–December 20, 2013
This interactive multimedia exhibition showcases memorabilia, instruments, artifacts, photos and videos from musicians who were born or based in Staten Island. Those recognized include 19th-century harpist Maud Morgan and famed tenor Enrico Caruso, and contemporary artists David Johansen (of New York Dolls), Vernon Reid (from Living Colour) and RZA (of Wu-Tang Clan), all of whom have contributed never-before-seen items to the show. Folk singer Joan Baez, who was born in Staten Island, and country legend Roy Clark (a former resident), as well as local talent such as Ingrid Michaelson and the Richmond County Orchestra, among many others, will also be featured.