Tag Archives: start-up

Why Kanye West is the ultimate Modern Marketer?

kids see ghosts

Even the cover art is causing hype. Superflat art piece by Takashi Murakami

As I am writing this, I am listening to “Kids See Ghosts”. It is a collaborative effort by Kanye West and Kid Cudi and in its short 7 song glory one of the best albums of the year. Before that Kanye West´s G.O.O.D. Music label released Pusha-T´s Daytona, album that is even better. Kanye West also has released his own solo (not too big of a fan) and there are additional two albums (from Nas and Teyana Taylor) coming in next two weeks.

We are seeing unleash of new music quite unprecedented in music history with combination of scandalous headlines. No matter what are your views about Kanye, it is very hard to dispute his mastery in creating art and also making people talk about that art.

  1. Understand the new economy

The age of traditional record industry with physical sales is over and now it is all about streaming. Kanye West´s Ye has had 180 million streams and Kanye West ties with Eminem and Beatles as an artist with eight consecutive Bilboard Number 1s. The hype machine around the five week flurry of G.O.O.D Music has been massive and they are constantly topping streaming charts. The mechanics of being popular in streaming  are fundamentally different than in physical world. You need to get people hooked immediately.

  1. Polarizing is better than boring

Supporting Trump? Using Whitney Houston´s bathroom as a cover art? Saying “slavery is a choice?” Using naked look-a-like of your wife to promote an album?

It is hard to agree or approve some of the latest moves by Kanye, but that is besides the point. He is creating news and regardless of your views about him, it is hard to not notice. For majority brands the problem is not that people are talking negative things about you. It is that no one is talking about the brand. We live in attention economy and Kanye West is the master of attention.

  1. Always-in-beta

Starting from Life of Pablo, Kanye West has reinvented the album form. Ye-album was still being tweaked right before the last minute of record listening party. Before the new album, he teased (or trolled) the audience with song “Lift Yourself” consisting of following lyrical mastery:

Poopy-di scoop

Scoop-diddy-whoop

 Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop

Poop-di-scoopty

Scoopty-whoop

 Whoopity-scoop, whoop-poop

Poop-diddy, whoop-scoop

Poop, poop Scoop-diddy-whoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop, poop

Internet was baffled and the song was not in the actual album. With the current timespan of pop songs and Internet full of memes and weird content, Kanye is essentially acid testing different ideas that might be genius or insane. They all contribute to this attention economy that drives streams, concert ticket sales and shares. With the five albums with set release dates, they need to also be released. Art does not live in isolation without connection to the audience. Kanye and his crew are breathing “done is better than perfect” mantra of successful start-ups.

  1. Let your team shine

As one of the most well-known artists in the planet, Kanye West did not just release his own album. He orchestrated 5 weeks of the most talked about musical releases. The sequencing of the albums was brilliant. Insanely strong Pusha-T Daytona started this music unleash. He had not released album in three years so there was lots of hype and the strong quality made it talked about. Ye-album by Kanye would have been hit in any case and in fine way it set the way for Kids See Ghosts (that is objectively listening the better album). Next we will have Nas, who naturally has strong own following and huge interest with his collaboration with Kanye. Teyana Taylor is probably the least well-known of the artists so it makes sense to end with her album as everyone has been raving about the different albums for five weeks.

Kanye lends his star aura to his protégés, but at least in Pusha-T album does not take over. Good leaders are not hogging the limelight to themselves but they use their clout to put their star team members on pedestal.

  1. Reinvent the form

Lately many new albums have been too long and too boring. Culture II by Migos was 1 h 45 minutes. While it had good songs, also plenty of fillers. All of the new G.O.O.D. Music releases are only seven songs and about 20 minutes, that is less songs than in the latest magnum opus (in length, not in quality) from Chris Brown. When competitors are doing things certain way, it might sense to go opposite route. The short and condensed form is also perfect for streaming. Sometimes constraints also help to create the best art.

There are not many artists that are not only creating popular culture, but are truly shaping it. Kanye West is one of them.

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The Difference Between Start-up Event and Marketing Event

Last week I was in Slush Singapore and the event was awesome. It was also breath of fresh air from traditional industry events, where you usually end up when working in marketing. What was also refreshing that I had to really explain what I am doing for work as the majority of people were not familiar with the weird acronyms we have as our “brands”. Can you truly explain what you do?

When I was talking to start-ups, pretty much every single one of them was explaining how their product, innovation or service is making the world a better place. Of course everyone wants to be a unicorn and get big fat investing rounds, but that was not the first thing you heard from them. The sense of purpose was something that came across first. Therefore I had really interesting discussions there and exchanged way more cards than in typical marketing event.

When you go to advertising seminar, the dialogue goes like this:

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$*

AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK**

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK

AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME “INNOVATION”***

and this continues as long as there is free booze.

We are only talking about ourselves. We preach our clients how they should be consumer-centric and communicate that way, but we are not practicing what we preach. For masters of branding, we truly suck on it. To be able to make your client interesting, you have to be interesting as well.

Talking about the cobbler´s children are the worst shod.

So what is the main difference between start-up event and marketing event?

First ones are interesting and inspiring. Latter ones are just painful waste of time.

I love marketing, but our industry is standing on burning platform. The talk about changing our ways has been mostly just smoke and mirrors for majority of agencies. We have taken some buzzwords from start-up world and put it to our presentations and think that we are innovative.  Current advertising is only relevant to advertisers and agencies. Advertising is not shaping popular culture anymore. Some could almost argue that we are not even part of popular culture.

Marketing is more important than ever. This was also obvious when talking with start-ups. They need help on how to break through clutter: how to be noticed, how to create memorable brand and tell interesting stories. They are in desperate need of agency expertise, but bureaucratic processes and archaic ways of working make collaboration almost impossible. Agencies are slow, the most interesting future clients are not.

Luckily it is not only gloom and doom and there are some awesome initiatives towards right direction (and luckily in firm where I am working for). Evolution does not save us, we need revolution.

* Way less money than any start-up is getting on their financing rounds.

** And that great work is categorized by fellow ad guys not the general public

**** In reality just some scam project

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