Tag Archive for Branding

RPDR as Transmedia Storytelling

RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) is a reality television show in which the world’s most famous drag queen, RuPaul, seeks out the next generation of drag queens who are able to use their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to champion the art and its rich history. The intended market for this brand is anyone over the age of 21; their biggest sponsor being Absolut Vodka.

The protagonist in this story is the winner of the drag race. That being said, every competitor undergoes the hero’s journey to one extent or another as they all endure a transformation due to trials within the competition which result in their either winning or being told to “sashay away”. Competitors start by going through a series of trials (i.e., application process, mini challenges, main challenges, and runway walks) designed to test their drag related skills as well as their personal development (e.g., social skills, personal conflicts, etc.). By the end of the competition, regardless of the outcome for the competitor, they have likely learned something about themselves and their skills. However, the only true hero’s journey, based on a real and tangible outcome, resolution, or change that is definitive is the winner of the competition; they have the crown.

The archetype of this story is that of the magician. Competitors learn the art of transformation and are motivated by achievement. There are other archetypes which, in one way or another, are also represented within RPDR (e.g., Jester or Outlaw), but the competition is about transformation in all its forms and masteries within the art of drag.

A variety of media are used to bring the journey of the drag queens, as well as their art, to life for consumers. RPDR itself is the flagship of Logo.tv. All episodes of the competition, as well as a show called Untucked, and one called Drag U, are located on the site/channel. Untucked allows consumers a glimpse of the behind the scenes of the competition; a way to connect more personally with the competitors. Drag U is a spin off which allows women to participate with RPDR competitors to undergo their own version of a hero’s journey using the principles and art of drag. Both Untucked and Drag U allow resonance with the brand, as consumers are able to identify with competitors as well as picture themselves in their shoes.

Another way in which consumers can see themselves in drag stilettos is through the Dragulator. This is an online application which allows consumers to upload a photo of themselves and make themselves up in drag. They can then share the result via a variety of social media sharing options. In addition to the Dragulator, consumers can participate in live chat with competitors and fellow fans during the broadcast via LogoTalk. In addition to discussing the show as it airs, consumers are able to converse with and direct questions to the latest competitor to be eliminated via Elimination Lunch with Michelle Visage, also on LogoTalk. LogoTalk is a convenient way to participate in Twitter conversations which follow the given hashtags during the show, allow for stickers to be gathered on GetGlue (another achievement driven social media). One of the most prominent features of RPDR is the ability for consumers to participate.

While the hub of RPDR remains on Logo.tv, and links to all branches of the transmedia network, Facebook remains a more easily navigated and immersive place for participants to explore. Social media are used heavily within the network. While Facebook is an easy place to share photos, ask questions to promote conversation, and link to other elements within the network, Twitter is used heavily to connect consumers during the shows. Hashtags are given at random times during various segments of the show to promote consist discussion between viewers. Twitter is also used as a way for competitors to connect to their fans and promote their personal performances throughout the country.

Other media are used successfully to immerse consumers as well. An online game called Ru-Dunnit, allows consumers to play a choose-your-own-adventure mystery game with the fierce Michelle Visage as the gumshoe (or “gumstilleto”, as she says in the game). The goal of the game is to determine who stole Sharon Needles’s crown. The game includes product placement by Absolut Vodka, and clothing worn by suspects are consistent with drinks featured in the video. Another example of a game used in the story of the ‘Next drag superstar’ is the Best Friend Race. This is a game hosted by SocialToaster.com which allows for the collection of points which are earned by sharing elements of the network via social media, how many likes and retweets you obtain, and how many of your friends sign up to play the game. This allows those who are achievement driven (consistent with the goals of the Magician archetype) a goal related to the brand with inadvertently further promotes the brand and takes advantage of social networks.

RPDR uses transmedia storytelling to tell a variety of stories about what it’s like to be a drag queen, but also promotes an art form which tends to be, in and of itself, at the forefront of the acceptance of LGBT individuals and culture. By expanding the in-group inherent in RPDR supporters, a social cause is promoted as well.

References:

Mark, M., & Pearson, C. (2001). The hero and the outlaw building extraordinary brands through the power of archetypes. New York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=63620

**The trading cards in the slideshow came from The LogoTV Tumblr page. Thanks guys! Great pics!**

Do the Hustle!: JK [Wedding Dance]

The JK Wedding Dance video is interesting because it challenges our social normatives, much like iconic brands do. Jenkins, Li, Krauskopf, and Green (2009) note that in order for something to be spreadable (clearly, this video is an apt example of spreadable media), it must answer a question for us, speak a truth, make sense of something, or touch us emotionally. This video allows us to experience a ritualistically sober ceremony in a non-traditional way, and allows us to do so safely from the comfort of our own home. It shows us  that something we may have previously considered socially taboo, is actually fun and completely acceptable. It allows collective intelligence to demolish pluralistic ignorance.

Chris BrownBowrey (2011) explains that many cases of copyright infringement and related disputes do not actually have the backing of the law that may be assumed. She notes that most people make assumptions about what is actually enforceable, but notes that trademark and copyright laws (and processes) are meant to cover very specific items and not thematic elements (e.g., characters). Additionally, IP laws change with the culture, and interpretation is done with an eye on the current state of culture and conceptualized future progression. This is similar to idea that the medium is the message (Federman, 2004). IP laws are flexible enough to anticipate legal needs as culture and use norms change. By understanding what is underlying and looking for those issues which are not glaringly obvious, IP law can effectively maintain the freedom and cost-effectiveness of amateur material with the commercial and professional, as suggested and called for by Cunningham (2012).

Sony’s brand relies on the notion that using their products, individuals can create whatever they can imagine (Sony Global, 2013). In the case of Jill and Kevin, they imagined a wedding outside the traditionally accepted social norms. They created an individualized ceremony, using Sony’s product (i.e., the song), because they believed they could, and they made it happen: make.believe.

Sony ElectronicsNot only does Sony have a variety of options for promoting their brand, but it seems to be recognized by many consumers that they already have benefited from the video’s popularity. Deighton and Kronfeld (2012) explain that when the video was at the height of it’s popularity, a number of people challenged the integrity of the video, accusing Sony of creating the video to induce sales and reputation reparations. It stands to reason, then, that the perception is that there was an increase in sales, as well as a shift in the artists popularity, despite his domestic abuse arrest. Rather than focusing on the negativity of the personal experiences of the artist, Sony could instead focus on the phenomenon promoted by the video which encourages a happy and unique marriage. Jill and Kevin donated money made from the video’s unexpected virality to a charity in just such a way (Deighton & Kornfeld, 2012). Allowing the song to be representative of something more positive is one way for Sony to not only take advantage of the popularity of the song and the video, but also do something socially supportive while profiting in non-direct ways. This is one of the possible actions to be taken as pointed out by Deighton and Kronfeld ( 2012). Were Sony to do something to threaten Jill and Kevin, they risk not only alienating customers who purchased the song for their wedding in the first place (i.e., Jill and Kevin), but those who spread the video, as well as those who identify with and support the charity they support with the proceeds. They also risk lash back such as that exhibited by Lenz when she the Electronic Frontier Foundation about her YouTube video (Deighton & Kornfeld, 2012). And that is not even taking into account a possibly unfounded complaint which, according to Bowrey (2011), is a very real possibility.

References:

Bowrey, K. (2011). The new intellectual property: Celebrity, fans and the properties of the entertainment franchise. Griffith Law Review, 20(1), 188-220.

Cunningham, S. (2012). Emergent innovation through the coevolution of informal and formal media economies. Television New Media, 13(5), 415-430.

Deighton, J., & Kornfeld, L. (2012). Sony and the JK Wedding Dance. Boston, MA: Harvard Business College.

Jenkins, H., Li, X., Krauskopf, A., & Green, J. (2009). If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead (part one): Media viruses and memes. Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/2009/02/if_it_doesnt_spread_its_dead_p.html

Sony Global. (2013). Sony group brand message “make.believe”. Retrieved from http://www.sony.net/united/makedotbelieve/

Sherpani: Part of Your World

The Little Mermaid (the original Hans Christian Anderson version) is an example of Campbell’s ‘monomyth’ (Vogler, 2007). As archetypes go, it is a story of the Lover as well as the Explorer (Mark & Pearson, 2001). This story speaks to both of these archetypes through the goals of the Little Mermaid; the love of the prince and an eternal soul (and in some analyses of the story, experiencing the unknown). A brand that resonates well with both of these concepts is Sherpani. Sherpani’s brand embraces the concept of “Breathe, Give, Stretch, Go.” The idea behind Sherpani is that women are unique, active, and should be able to have bags that embrace femininity and the outdoors. In their concept, breathe stands for “breathe fresh air”, give means “give your love”, stretch represents “stretch your mind and body”, and go reminds us to “never stop moving”. The Little Mermaid embodies all of these notions.

As such, one might harness the existing story in the form of a text-based novel for the main story anchor medium (Rutledge, 2013). The Little Mermaid could have an online journal (blog) which serves as a diary for collecting her thoughts, contemplations, events/experiences, and perceptions of what is happening. She could also post photos of the prince and links to dances she learns for him. And the Little Mermaid’s blog could allow for comments which could encourage readers to share stories of love, advice on how to interact with surface dwellers, princes, and/or general feedback on posts. This resonates with each of Sherpani’s core words.

The Prince may have an interactive online nautical map, complete with notes on trips, information about ships (e.g., costs, crew lists, photos, checklists for expedition preparations, etc.), information about the sea (from a surface perspective), and may solicit ideas about future trips from readers, as well as their photos, maps, and suggestions for gear. This, while not feminine per say, embraces the core concept of ‘stretch’.

An interactive game could allow readers to attempt to make it through the trial period of a Daughter of the Air to their rise to the eternal kingdom by allowing them to visit houses and collect smiles while avoiding tears. The game could be made as a downloadable mobile app or as an indie game on XBox or PS networks. The game could allow readers to accept the fate of the Little Mermaid as immortal, even after her loss, which assures the safety of the reader (Nell, 2002) regarding the immortality of his/her soul. This embraces, quite literally, Sherpani’s concept of ‘breathe’.

The Little Mermaid could also have an Instagram account on which she takes pictures of the adventures she has with the prince (i.e., exploring the kingdom). She could also have a Twitter account on which she posts observations about the trips, is able to post the Instagram photos, can mention the prince, and allow them to communicate (as she has no tongue). This resonates with Sherpani’s core concept of ‘go’.

The Little Mermaid’s five sisters could have a Vine account which would allow them to discuss hair care, the hottest products, and the latest trends in merfolk fashion as well as connect with surface dwellers (aka readers) and exchange fashion savvy. The fashion account allows the sisters’ sacrifice to be more meaningful, while allowing for immersion which carries on throughout the readers day as decisions about clothing and accessories are made. To this end, the sisters could even create a Postmark account and sell accessories by artists who have partnered up with Sherpani, as a means of supporting a social campaign like The Cove. This also embraces the core concept of ‘give’ in a variety of ways (i.e., giving love but also loving individual uniqueness and styles).

The Little Mermaid, as a fairytale allows readers to experience a roller-coaster of emotions, as she moves through her hero’s journey. Allowing readers to be involved in that journey by harnessing the innate archetypes contained therein, propels this timeless classic into its next evolution, and allows Sherpani the embrace archetypes and the telling of universal truths, an ability exhibited by icons (Mark & Pearson, 2001).

References:

Mark, M., & Pearson, C. (2001). The hero and the outlaw building extraordinary brands through the power of archetypes. New York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=63620

Nell, V. (2002). Mythic Structures in Narrative. In M. C. Green, J. J. Strange & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative Impact: Social and Cognitive Foundations (pp. 17-37). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum

Rutledge, P. (2013). Case study example: The three little pigs. Retrieved from: http://athinklab.com/transmedia-storytelling/case-study-example-the-three-little-pigs/

Vogler, Christopher. (2007). The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (Third ed.). Chelsea, MI: Sheridan Books. p. 3-27.

Mountain Dew: Iconic Brand

PEPSICO HOW WE DEW CAMPAIGNIn gaming, before the energy drinks (Redbull, Jolt, etc.) came out, gamers seemed to reach for one drink above the rest to survive long gaming sessions. Even then, Mountain Dew was promoting a life of being who you are, being an unique, and taking it all the way. Brands, such as Mountain Dew, define who they are through the stories they tell (Fog, Budtz, Yakaboylu, (2005). Their new promotion, “This is how we Dew”, carries on that story using a creative collection of flavors (some solicited by fans), energetic images on their labels, and unusual colored drinks in see through bottles. Nowadays, Mountain Dew perpetuates that brand by telling the stories of a handful of x-sport athletes and musicians (Mountain Dew curates independent artists who represent the essence of their brand, Green Label Sound) “striving to “do how they Dew” with the help of Mountain Dew. Videos showing off collaborations, videos of the artists promoting the brand concept, a host of social media sites (including Twitter and Facebook) populated with contests, immediate acknowledgment of customer feedback and help where necessary, Instagram photos of the products in a variety of situations (e.g., with skateboards or video game controllers), and an interactive site that acts as the hub for all of the elements of the brand and is as unique and fun as the people Mountain Dew promotes.

avatars-000007909874-xmyrry-cropHolt (2004) notes that there are four steps to building an iconic brand. First, he mentions targeting a social tension; something that creates dissonance within a community. Second, the brand acts in a manner that alleviates that tension by bringing it to light and moving past the issue to solve it. Doing this may take the form of artistic expression, which is the third concept listed. Being a brand that people can look to for guidance or permission for expression allows the brand to stand out from the rest. Finally, the brand must be seen as having integrity. When a group expresses interest in something, or says they care about something, they must care and follow through (2004).

Mountain Dew has done these things by taking hold of the concept of individuality and the assertion that young people can break away from the social norm of desk jobs and more academically inclined careers and be expressive as a way of life. They support artists and athletes, assisting in the building of facilities for the cultivation of these skills, a site to promote music, and allowing these individuals to be part of Mountain Dew’s promotions as well (thereby getting the individuals more exposure). They’ve followed all of the concepts that Holt discusses aptly. Customers can send videos, write poetry, submit photos and create music to perpetuate the brand and discover others with similar interests, and even submit recommendations for new flavors of the soda, thereby co-creating the brand.

References:

Fog, K., Budtz, C., & Yakaboylu, B. (2005). Storytelling: branding in practice. Berlin ; New York: Springer.

Holt, D. B. (2004). How brands become iconic: Principles of cultural branding. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.