Bringing a Cult Film Festval to Your Town

8 06 2014

We have the great luck of a retail shopping destination client with a 500-seat cultural venue. On the not-so-great side, it’s a challenge to attract patrons and shoppers during South Florida’s off season – the incredibly hot and humid summers (with added bonus of hurricane season). Mainstreet at Midtown is known for its year-round outdoor festivals and events like a 16-week Music on the Plaza concert series (held during the drier and cooler months of the peak social season), its Peace Love & Wellness Music Festival, Children’s Festival, Cool Yule Tree Decorating Contest, and others.

swede fest palm beach 3So, we needed a summer event, and it REALLY needed to be indoors.

And then NPR did this great piece a couple of years ago about an underground film event that sounded like the perfect idea we could get behind and make our client’s own. Indie film festivals have a rich history of showcasing amazing undiscovered talent, where Hollywood insiders troll for the next big thing, where A-list stars promote the small labor-of-love projects they do between blockbusters. swede fest™ palm beach is an indie film festival with NONE of that going for it. In fact, our tagline is “Bad Movies by Good People.”

The key to understanding why is in the “swede.” A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 Jack Black/Mos Def comedy, Be Kind Rewind, and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – “swedes” because it sounded really sophisticated. Not exactly a classic in its genre, but neither is it comedy kryptonite.

swede fest palm beach 3Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them, like they do at Sundance, SXSW, Telluride, Slamdance, Tribeca, and so on – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars. Hence the coverage on NPR.

We’re the third official swede fest™. First, Fresno. Then, Tampa Bay. Now, the Palm Beaches. This is the third year, and we sell out every time, create super fun/cheesy marketing, a great microsite, go crazy on social media: www.facebook.com/swedefestpalmbeach and www.twitter.com/swedefestpb , give out silly awards (Best Use of a Backyard Location, Best Use of Man’s Best Friend, Best Use of Tinfoil), and everyone generally has a great time and gets dressed up in total Hollywood drag.

Local schools get involved and sometimes do them as class projects, and the community and local media really get behind it because we deliberately created an all-ages event – you can swede any film, but your 3-minute clip must be PG-13, even if your source material is not. We’ve had swedes of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Thing, and already we have someone who has submitted The Wolf of Wall Street for this year’s festival on August 2. We’re anxious to see exactly how they’ll sanitize that one.





15 Days of Fame Into Less Than 4 Minutes

30 05 2014

Getting marketing and PR mileage out of an event can take some ingenuity. Big, splashy events with celebrities, music, celebrations, food – and sometimes all of the above – have a certain built-in traction that makes the job a bit easier. But what do you do when you’re marketing something that is still an intangible – a residential project that won’t be completed until January 2015, with no floor plans, no pre-leasing, no artist’s conceptions available for another couple of months? By painting a huge public art mural that takes 15 days. There are milestones you can get the media to cover and the public to take interest in: that first dash of color on the bricks, and the final touches when it is complete.

But then it’s over. How do you remind people of the scope, of the breadth, of the magnitude – and then show it to those who never even knew it was happening? And keep it out there to continually show prospective residents, the ultimate reason the investment was made in the first place?

Time lapse photography and a drone.

The final result is a video that is sharable, portable, and allowed the artist, the client, the city, and fans to make it a viral gift that keeps on giving. Credit where credit is due: Artist — Tristan Eaton and his killer team; Time Lapse — Gregory Dillard of Grapeseeker Motion Graphics; 7,000 square feet of “Canvas” — Ram Real Estate/Alexander Lofts.





The Intersection of Marketing and Art

14 04 2014

It’s no bad thing to have a client who is an art patron. And it’s an even better thing when that client, a real estate developer, is a huge supporter of Art in Public Places (#AIPP) and willing to budget for the creation of art as a way to improve the community in which construction takes place.

For another perspective on the scale of this project, this is Tristan painting Alexander Graham Bell’s eye.

For another perspective on the scale of this project, this is Tristan painting Alexander Graham Bell’s eye.

That said, you’d like to have the artwork depict some subtle tie-in to the project, even though Art in Public Places is pretty strict about there being no commercial aspect to the projects it approves. The client, Ram Realty Services, decided that we would conduct a Call to Artists with the prompt that the 7,000 square foot mural would honor Alexander Graham Bell and communication, since the historic structure was once the regional headquarters for Southern Bell, and the converted residential units will be known as Alexander Lofts.

To provide a sense of scale, these next images were taken from the painting platforms.

Looking down...

Looking down…

Looking up...

Looking up…

After a lengthy vetting process that included representatives of Ram Realty Services, Alchemy, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, it was decided we would work with Los Angeles-based Tristan Eaton, an internationally known street artist and designer whose work can be seen in galleries around the world and in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Eaton is renowned for creating large-scale murals in urban landscapes (NYC, Detroit, LA, Cleveland), and is an art consultant to major brands such as Fisher Price, Nike, and Disney.

It took him and his two assistants over 600 cans of spray paint and a total of 12 days to conquer the wall.

While there is no commercial aspect to the final artwork that in any way promotes Alexander Lofts, the prominence of the huge mural makes the building a landmark in Downtown West Palm Beach, and generated a tremendous amount of media coverage.

And it doesn’t hurt that the enormous mural and the name of the building both pay homage to Alexander Graham Bell – subtle, but present.

The finished 7,000 square-foot mural.

The finished 7,000 square-foot mural.

The investment in this tremendous artwork is a fantastic branding tool, as we are able to generate interest in the project on social media, on the project website, and in future marketing efforts as a way to identify the location of the property.





Birth of a Brand Identity

29 01 2014

No, it’s not exactly high art.

It is, however, art with a somewhat higher exposure than the fine paintings ensconced in a museum or gallery. A bad logo won’t stop your business from growing – but a good one can catapult you into the cortex of your consumer.

Creating logo ideas, pitching them to the client, gathering feedback, refining ideas and possibly combining elements from multiple options, pitching them again, gathering more feedback…it would be nice to brag that we hit it out of the park every time, but sometimes the process takes some time.

Alchemy recently created a brand identity for a historic building that a developer is turning into luxury loft apartments. We developed a name and tagline for the property, then needed to create a visual identity. Long story short, the building has a major tie to Alexander Graham Bell.

While they considered dozens of name ideas (all of which have to be reasearched to be sure there is not a competing property in the same market with a similar name, or in any of the markets the developer builds from South Florida to updstate New York), the one the client ultimately chose is Alexander Lofts.

What follows are the logo concepts we showed at the first brand presentation:

From that, the consensus was that we should take two of the logos they liked best, and apply a color palette the interior designer was working with. These are the refinements:

Then, it was decided that since the color scheme was still up in the air while we needed to start producing building graphics, outdoor marketing, and a landing site, we should find colors that were IN BETWEEN the two possible shade palettes.AL logo fence

We can’t make this stuff up.

Et voila, to the right you see the final logo applied to fence wraps. You can see the landing site we designed here: www.alexanderloftswpb.com. Up next is a full website, leasing collateral, coordination of a public art project (mural on one side of the building), and other elements.





Looking Like A Big Deal…Before You Are

27 11 2013

Transformed: Homecoming Queen, Drig Addict, Spiritual WarriorThe proliferation of ways to publish your magnum opus (or, you know, an exhaustive detailing of your whole two and a half decades of life experience) has been both a blessing and a curse. It allows talented voices an outlet directly to the audience; we’ll skip the fact that it allows the spectacularly untalented a way into print. Vanity publishing used to keep all but the well-heeled hack out of that sandbox.

But we digress. This blog post is about finding clever ways to bring attention to a self-published author, with the end goal of interesting a mainstream publisher in either picking up the work or future works. Then again, if the campaign is successful, perhaps that mainstream publisher becomes much less enticing or even necessary.

We worked recently with the anonymous author of a book about her experiences as a drug addict. It is a sobering book with a message of hope, forgiveness, and redemption. She financed the publishing of her book in paperback and e-book herself, and was savvy enough to know that if she could put some of her savings into professionally designed marketing materials, she would look like the product of a mainstream publisher, which translates into instant credibility with many consumers.

Complicating matters was that the book is anonymous, which means no lovely dust jacket photo — and a somewhat vague bio. We decided together that we would do the following things to help promote her book: an attention-getting book cover, a website, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a media kit, and a series of testimonial videos.

Remember that anonymous thing? It somewhat complicates the production of book trailers and testimonials. But through lighting, lenses, and post-production tinkering with their voices and appearances, we were able to preserve the identities of six people, who could then speak 100% candidly about how they feel about the book, how they feel about the author, and what it was like to deal with the author at the height of her addiction and as she struggled to recover. It allowed the author to speak about her experience dredging up painful episodes from her past, and about those episodes themselves, without endangering her high-paying, high-profile career. Here’s a sample:

The sum total of those marketing tools resulted in one of the largest and most nationally recognized non-profit providers of alcohol and drug addiction treatment lending the author its support of her book through promotion in its newsletters and e-communications, and sales in its treatment centers, bookstores, and at its engagements. And that’s a big deal.





Ad Creep(y)

29 07 2013

First there was bodvertising, then thighvertising, now it’s beardvertising. Talk about taking “ad creep” to new highs…er, lows…oh, forget it.

Thighvertising

This, my friends, is “thighvertising.”

Ad creep is defined in our industry as the spread of media placement into every possible aspect of our daily lives. Thighvertising (according to the U.K.’s Telegraph, or maybe it was the Daily Mail – it was earlier this year) originated in Japan, and is pretty much just what the name implies: advertising on the quadriceps. But not just any quads, mind you – on the taut legs of young, attractive women. Everything I read about this trend – which seemed to hit critical media mass in the last few weeks — noted its potential for objectification of women. Then, of course, came the opinions that it’s EMPOWERING when women turn the tables and take control of their bodies and their image. As someone of the female persuasion, I’m going to stop right here before I let loose with an opinion of that sentiment, which isn’t really relevant to the topic at hand. However, I will tell you that this is my test for whether something is exploitative (borrowed from another writer, so no claims to originality here): Are guys doing it, too?

More thighvertising

Are we the only ones who found this invasive?

The PR firm credited with the thighvertising reports that as of sometime around Q3 2012, over 1,300 women signed up to be mini-skirted billboards, although I read other reports that put the number as high as 13,000. The name of this Japanese PR outfit is Absolute Territory, which also happens to be a colloquial term for the area exposed between a woman’s hemline and the top of her stockings. No doubt many more business-minded female entrepreneurs (yep, that would be sarcasm) have since applied. After all, they’re paid from $13 to $128 for co-opting a leg and walking around Tokyo like that for eight hours (and posting it all over social media for additional exposure).

From the guys at Beardvertising.com

From the guys at Beardvertising.com

But at least it’s better than what a New Zealand ad agency did back in 2011 – they created raised plates and installed them on bus benches. What did the raised plate do? It imprinted an ad on the backs of your thighs for a client’s sale that read, “SHORT SHORTS ON SALE AT SUPERETTE.” Don’t believe me? There’s proof.

beardvertising

Beardvertising by @WrestlingAndy

So, I’m feeling like beardvertising does not quite level that particular playing field. If you are thinking, “Why the heck not? What are you, some kind of feminist?” feel free to check out some of these samples of beardvertising and tell me this is the same as “absolute territory” messaging (you can see way more on Instagram here).

Beardvertising by @brentonrocks

On the plus side, I truly love that Dollar Shave Club (which produced one of the best viral marketing videos EVER), purveyors of beard-eliminating technology, have co-opted some of the mankiest beards I have ever seen. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe there are lots of people out there who find the absolute territory between the eye and the top of the beard really hot.

Beardvertising:
http://beardvertising.com/

Thighvertising at International Business Times:
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/437617/20130221/advertising-japan-women-s-sexy-legs-rent.htm





Don’t Harsh My Thongs

19 07 2013

What’s with all the thong hate? No, not THOSE thongs. “Thongs” are what we used to call flip-flops down here when I was a kid.

Not our feet, not our beach. Image courtesy of KSL Broadcasting, Salt Lake City UT (ksl.com)

Not our feet, not our beach. Image courtesy of KSL Broadcasting, Salt Lake City UT (ksl.com)

Whatever you call them, I read six articles published in the last week referencing the horror of people wearing flip-flops (Slate,  Huffington Post, MSN, CBS, Fox, and Jezebel), and saw on my way out the door this morning that the Today Show  was, as usual, coming late to the party. At least Jezebel took the contrarian (shocking, I know) position that there is no shame in sporting ugly, exposed feet.

Apparently, feet need a good PR push. They’re variously described in these articles as “gross,” “disgusting,” “nasty,” “super gross,” “smelly,” “filthy,” “unsightly,” “skeevy,”  and “unappealing.”  Place them in a flip-flop, put them in an urban environment, and you get a violent reaction. Mix in podiatrists and lack of arch support, and you have shoe heresy.

After my initial knee-jerk reaction to people dissing my favorite form of footwear — after all, I live in South Florida and we have raised thong-wearing to an art form — I found I had to agree with at least SOME of the argument. Thongs + urban dirt = skanky feet. I lived in New York City for six years and never once even considered wearing flip-flops on the street. I wore Doc Martins, a form of urban combat wear for your feet. It was simply self-defense; I have this thing about people stepping on my naked toes. It hurts.

And let’s not forget the general filthiness of large collections of humans living in very close proximity to one another. Big city streets are big time nasty.

What’s actually interesting in all of this is not that there are something like 18,000 bacteria on your flip-flops (including Staphylococcus aureus, according to the 2009 study referenced in all of these articles). It’s that thing I referred to in the last post: the social media hive mind.

It used to be that print and broadcast tended to move in story cycles, so that if one pub covered a topic and the article/segment was interesting and well-received (or at least received a lot of attention), you could count on similar stories from the competition. Now that everyone’s wired (a gloriously inaccurate term), the cycle is practically instantaneous. And when enough news outlets (i.e. mainstream media), news purveyors (i.e. bloggers, gossip sites, opinion sites), and social consumers come together on a topic, it becomes a cultural phenomenon (albeit an often brief one). Because the timeframe is so compressed, and sharing anything even remotely interesting is basically built into whatever you’re reading/watching, we get topics that spread like viruses. Hence that “viral” thing.

What used to seem like these big cosmic coincidences now happen so frequently they’ve lost much of their luster — and therefore any truly lasting impact. In a moment too meta to contemplate here, an author whose book I recently edited told me I need to read Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious, and the next day Mr. Berger was on CBS talking about how stuff catches on — or doesn’t.

So, I wonder what the next Sharknado will be? Of course, if we knew that, we’d stop trying to do this marketing thing, become consultants, and wear our flip-flops on the beach in Bora Bora.








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