My Favorites of May: Fallon’s Tears, Forest Finance & @Jose_Naranja’s Notebooks

Image by Jose Naranja (click to access)

Beyond the election of an open-minded, pro-business and modern President in France, the month of May had many other highlights. It starts with a very moving video of Jimmy Fallon telling the story of his son’s birth, which was fraught with challenges but end up with a happy end.

Besides, you’ll read about marketing, entrepreneuship, innovation and strategy – as always – but also about a Spanish artist’s notebooks who are absolutely fantastic (see picture). I have been following for years and like his hand-drawn pieces of art, which are invitations to travel and scribble. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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I Read This Book About The Importance of Wasting Time on the Internet

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Are we becoming lazier and dumbing ourselves down with silly content on the internet? Should we be scared that most of us look like sleepwalking zombies when walking while staring at our smartphones? Many believe it, and countless articles are written around that narrative. Not much room for optimism. Kenneth Goldsmith, a poet and artist from New York City, believes that more good than bad stems from our increased connectedness – and he wrote a book about it: “Wasting Time On The Internet.” Continue reading →

My Favorites in September: Airbnb’s Brand Strategy, The World’s Last Globemakers & Mothers of ISIS Fighters

Image via boredpanda.com

Image by Bellerby & Co Globemakers

How/why did the Amazon Phone fail? What do Converse and Airbnb do in order to make their brands attractive to existing communities? And do globemakers still exist today? Some answers are answered in this month’s favorites.

It’s a heterogeneous mix of articles about branding, marketing, ISIS and more that I would like to share this September. My personal favorite is the last link of this list, a truly insightful post by Standard Chartered Bank’s Global Head of Digital Marketing, Damien Cummings. I would urge every other brand marketer to write something similar, it would make my life so much easier 🙂 And it would allow for a lot of synergies between brands and agencies.

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Gelehrter Betriebswirt, Professionneller Tänzer und Animationskünstler

Die "Fette Moves" Crew, mit Florian Genal, links

Die “Fette Moves” Crew, mit Florian Genal, links

Ich habe seite langer Zeit nichts mehr auf Deutsch geschrieben. Seit sehr langer Zeit, sogar! In diesem Post möchte ich Florian Genal vorstellen, ein professionneller Tänzer aus Karlsruhe, der nebenbei auch sehr erfolgreicher 3D-Künstler ist. Florian a.k.a. FlojoArt hat in der Tat über 10 Wettbewerbe auf eYeka gewonnen (bei seinem letzten Interview vor über einem Jahr waren es noch 7), und wird wahrscheinlich in den nächsten Monaten noch einige Preise gewinnen. Wer ist er? Wie kam er zu diesem Hobby? Was macht er heute?

Hier sind einige Antworten… und die Erkenntniss, dass mann im Leben alles mögliche erreichen kann. Continue reading →

Hidden Carbon, students’ works at Les Ateliers-l’ENSCI (Paris)

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When you hear “carbon” you very likelly think about global warming, about fast Formula 1 cars or -like me- about high-end bicycles… Well, students from the French design-school ENSCI and the Swiss ECAL tried to think outside of the box and propose some different applications for the material. Let me just share some thoughts and pictures from this exhibition :

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After postmodern marketing, what would Altermodern marketing look like ?

The French Enlightenment founded the bases for the idea of progress : rationality, functionality, progress by analytical thinking and trust in the power of science. You could call modern something that never existed before, something new and radically different. Thus, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776) is a modern perspective of international trade, Sigmund Freud’s fundamental structure of the mind (1880’s) or the Bauhaus movement in architecture & design (1920’s to 1930’s) can be seen as modern works of humanity. In a consumption perspective, the lure of an improved standard of living replaced self-sufficiency, abundance and desires ruled. Even though dates are always a slippery matter, we’ll say that the modern era stopped where the postmodern movement began : the oil crisis of 1973.

"The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design" (text & image retrieved from Wikipedia)

As the last North Amercian edition from Adbusters says, the postmodern erarejected the certainty of an unchanging, foundational truth“, which means that all the models that were developped during the past centuries had to be reconsidered… and capitalism had to find other resources than natural resources to fuel its growth. But various social were also to be considered in the birth of postmodernism : women started working, people had more time for leisure activities, education levels increased. This new culture rejects so-called metanarratives (democracy is the best political model, existency of a good society etc.) and replace this view by “localized narratives” (Lyotard, 1984) which take into consideration of human existence. Postmodern thinkers adopt a middle-ground between metanarratives and the anarchy-like negativity of radically anti-modern thinkers, and this middle-ground contains storytelling, political interest groups, neo-tribalism or the ephemeral. Sounds like marketing ?

In terms of marketing, the postmodern movement is very relevant indeed. Let me quote Bernard Cova, a prominent researcher on these issues : “Postmodernism focuses on both discontinuity and continuity, and is characterized by ambiguity, fragmentation and the juxtaposition of opposites“. By saying that, he basically means that today every consumer is led to play various opposite and paradoxal roles at a time : the medical doctor or the lawyer who belong to non-mainstream motorcycle gangs in the weekends (Dholakia, Firat & Venkatesh, 1994). This means that marketers adopt a tribal approach of their consumers, as Cova says again : “in marketing, postmodernity means supporting the social link – tribes or subcultures of consumption – via experiences which encourage the co-creation of meanings“.

Australian jeweller Bico targets the surfers' tribe... even in Las Vegas (photo retrieved from Bicopacific.com)

Postmodern marketing doesn’t only highlight the role of consumer tribes, their dynamic identities or experience-sharing, it also takes on Baudrillard’s idea of the consumption of images and representations rather than objects. By this, postmodernists don’t mean the status-motivated consumption that already existed in modern times, but they rather describe a hyperreality, as exemplified by theme parks (Disneyworld) or virtual reality (computer games and social networks). Las Vegas is a very good example, offering the possibility to visit hyper-real New York (New-York New-York), Egypt (Luxor), Morocco (Sahara), Venice (The Venetian), Paris (Paris Las Vegas) or Asia (Imperial Palace). Various other expressions make-up the postmodern consumer, you can read these articles for further details :

  • COVA, B., (1996, November). The postmodern explained to managers : implcations for marketing. Business Horizons v39, p15-23. Retrieved March 9 from Business Full Text
  • DHOLAKIA, N, FIRAT, A. & VENKATESH, A., (1994, May). Marketing in a postmodern world. European Journal of Marketing, 29 (1), p40-56.

What is altermodern ???

Nicolas Bourriaud's logo for the 4th Triennal exhibition held in London at Tate Britain

Nicolas Bourriaud is art curator and critic at Tate Britain and described the concept in his Altermodern Manifesto in 2009. For him, “a recomposition of the modernity in the present” is emerging, the difference with modernism being today’s global world culture (modernity was dominated by the west, altermodernity is global, creolized). Furthemore, the financial collapse of 2008 marks a turning point in history, which showed that even “technological innovation and financial wizardry” (Adbusters #88) is unable to achieve progress without any negative side-effects (it was seen as the solution to the oil-crisis of 1973 : if natural resources are not sufficient, technical and financial innovation will bring growth). Therefore, Bourriaud says that we have to build up the new altermodern era with the ethos that remains in mankind.

Again, what will this imply in terms of consumption and marketing ? As communities start ruling marketing landscapes (see this previous post, in French) in a more-or-less convincing way, customization and interaction shapes the media, organizations are converging towards the same communication channels hoping to capture customers. But altermodernism is rather about finding ways to satisfy our desires of more, given the particular circumstances of today’s situation.

US Postal Services go green : All Express Mail and Priority Mail packages now meet a cradle-to-cradle certification (retrieved from Treehugger.com)

As Richard Heinberg says in his book Peak Everything : Waking Up to the Century of Decline in Earth’s Resources, the coming era will be that of sustainability, simplicity and intelligent design. Not because people will choose to live with less, but because it will become a necessity, nature will restrain the possibilities… as it should always have done. Respect for nature will arise from the need for its resources, as well as craftmanship and quality will gain recognition. Modernity meant that mankind dominated nature to achieve its goals, maybe altermodernity will reverse this point of view.

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Created by a young French entrepreneur, Misericordia uses the creativity and the craftmanship of Peruvian workers to design beautiful and simple apparel (retrieved from misionmisericordia.com)

Qui peur des artistes? , sélection de la collection Pinault (Dinard, août 2009)

Panneau-Dinard-jpg

La ville de Dinard (Bretagne Nord) accueille du 13 juin au 13 septembre une sélection d’œuvres de la collection d’art contemporain de François Pinault. Le Palais des Arts et du Fextival rassemble donc les créations d’une trentaine d’artistes dont mes préférés étaient celles de Takeshi Murakami (néo-pop, peintures et sculptures inspirées entre-autres par l’art manga), Ed Ruscha (pop art “textuel”, non sans parallèles à la publicité), Jeff Wall (photographie cinématographique c’est-à-dire mise en scène), Maurizio Cattelan (Jean-Paul II frappé par une météorite!) et bien sûr le très provocateur Damien Hirst. Mais une autre œuvre a plus particulièrement retenu mon attention : Untitled V de l’allemand Andreas Gursky. Explications.

La salle dans laquelle se situait le grand format photographique (185,5*442,6 cm) d’Andreas Gursky s’articulait autour de trois thèmes : la guerre, la révolte et la consommation. Indéniablement, Untitled V concerne le dernier de ces thèmes (vous vous en doutez…). D’ailleurs, la photographie était exposée juste à côté d’un autre “Untitled (I shop therefore I am)”, non moins imposant travail de Barbara Kruger. La photographie de Gursky, présentée pour la première fois en 1997, allie l’esthétique au sens. Le motif de la (des) chaussure(s) fait référence aux mêmes valeurs, presque marchandes, de l’esthétique et de la consommation.

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On y voit donc un étalage de 204 chaussures (sandales, chaussures de basket, de golf, de football et même de vélo), de diverses marques (Adidas, Asics, Fila, Nike, Reebok) et non pas seulement de Nike comme l’assurait l’audioguide pré-enregistré. Il est d’ailleurs étonnant de remarquer qu’il n’y a aucun modèle Puma, dont l’élément graphique distinctif sur les chaussures est le Formstrip. Rapellons que Puma appartient au groupe Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) de François Pinault. Peut-etre que la François Pinault Foundation s’interdit d’acquérir des œuvres contenant une référence aux marques du groupe… Il faut dire qu’en 1997, le marque ressort à peine la tête de l’eau à la suite d’une période de “business survival“, comme le dit le fabricant lui-même (slideshare.net), pendant laquelle le fabricant n’a guère réussi à sortir des modèles attractifs. Ce n’est qu’à partir de 1998 et ses produits sous licence Ferrari, notamment les chaussures, que Puma a retrouvé la voie du succès.

L’artiste a photographié les objets séparément, avant de faire une recomposition de ses prises à l’ordinateur. L’étalage (et les chaussures?) a été détruit après que les photographies aient été prises et assemblées. L’abondance des détails et la variété des coloris, ainsi que le rigueur du cadrage font de cette énorme photographie un véritable plaisir visuel. C’est amusant d’observer les visiteurs devant cette photgraphie. Certains ne s’y attardent pas ; il est vrai que le(s) motif(s) est très familier et qu’il n’y a rien de surprenant ni de révoltant. D’autres – comme moi – s’amusent à regarder les modèles un par un en se rapprochant au maximum, puis à s’éloigner pour contempler l’ensemble.

L’artiste s’interroge là sur le devenir d’une culture aux logiques économiques, et il sait pertinement que le spectateur est aussi consommateur. Mais les objets de la vie courante, les symboles et les logotypes peuvent aussi être des œuvres d’art, dès lors que leur mise en scène s’inscrit dans une démarche de réflexion vis-à-vis de la société. On en revient au message du travail juxtaposé :

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Voilà!