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How Toosday: creating art, not ads

Estimated read time: 11 minutes

Hands up who reading this skips ads? Sometimes those five seconds can’t be done quick enough. But, what about if ads were better? If they were more like art? That’s what Inder Phull, CEO and founder of KRPT – and author of this article – wants to see more of. Here’s how he reckons it can happen…

We live in an interesting time where many young people are growing up disillusioned by the state of the world, capitalism and politics. This sparks an interesting debate on how brands stay relevant in a fast-changing space where data privacy, social media and teenage depression capture the headlines.

Additionally, platforms like Facebook change their algorithms at a pace that brands can hardly keep up with; as a result appearing in social feeds much less and having to pay even more to get an impression.

There are also over 4 million hours of content uploaded to YouTube everyday. This has resulted in content saturation and what we like to think of as the rise of “swipe & skip” behaviour, where most consumers are quick to ignore your content and move on.

It always makes me laugh at how impatient my younger family members are with adverts now, especially on YouTube where they are used to being able to skip and go straight to a video of “slime” or slenderman.

Clearly, the advertising industry needs to wake up and address the future impact of ad-blocking and the skip-ad generation.

I run a creative network & marketing agency called KRPT and our mission is to help brands create art instead of ads.

This doesn’t mean we ignore ROI or new methods of pushing consumers down the funnel & driving conversions. It means we try to help brands stay relevant by supporting talent and balancing their cultural and commercial objectives.

We’ve built a network of over 1,000 leaders in art, music and technology from the biggest DJs to emerging stars. Our approach is to involve them in the planning process from the start and develop new ways for brands to work with talent.

So, how can brands develop marketing that delivers ROI but is culturally relevant? We believe it requires a move from creating ads, towards creating art. At the end of the day, an ad might stay relevant for a few weeks whereas art maintains its value for decades.

Here are some of our top tips

Funding artists & supporting talent

Our first tip is that brands should be thinking about funding artists and supporting talent. The key here is to identify and work with the right creators that will resonate with your target audience.

One of my favourite examples of this is when brands fund music in creative new ways. A few of the case studies below have gone viral and it’s very likely you will hear one of those tracks on a night out. There are clear mentions of the brand in the music but they are also catchy and relevant.

Nike x Spurs official kit launch single

Timberland Hook and Loop range

Drinking responsibly with Captain Morgan

Adidas and Stormzy

Working with gatekeepers & build a movement

Brands can easily miss the mark when it comes to integrating with culture. Pepsi and Kendall Jenner is just one simple example of a complete failure.

It’s vital that brands and agencies can identify who the right gatekeepers are that have the cultural knowledge about certain scenes and can help a brand integrate in a unique way.

We always recommend clients to build their own network and movement. Nike and Adidas have done this extremely well, building a network of ambassadors that can plug into the brand comms when relevant. A good example is the Nike LDNR campaign (although recently pulled due to legal reasons for copyright on the term LDNR, it was a campaign that went viral and involved dozens of ambassadors that support the Nike brand.

Adidas have been supporting Stormzy since before he broke through and they were able to find him because their team was connected and had great insights into who was going to be make a major impact in the music industry. Part of it is a risk whereas the other half is working with gatekeepers that understand culture and have insider information about big moves that are happening with emerging stars.

Immersive Experiences & Gamification

So far, the majority of examples we listed have been focussed on content. I believe that advertising will go through an evolution that makes it more interactive as opposed to a passive experience. This is where experiential comes into it and gamification.

The recent mixed reality project from Star Wars is a really cool example of how brands can immerse the audience into their narrative and create an experience that captures your imagination.

We’ve been innovating in this space for the past year and have tons of case studies showing how immersive experiences and gamification can be used to turn advertising into a unique journey that rewards consumers along every touch point instead of being a passive experience that people will skip or ignore.

Creating a platform

Brands like Levis, Red Bull, Converse and Vans have all started building their own platform to support artists, for example the Levis Music Project and the House of Vans.

I believe that the role of government and brands are changing and in the UK, where many youth centres are being closed, we’re seeing brands come in and play a role to support the next generation.

Brands should be looking to create more platforms and physical spaces where artists can collaborate and grow, thereby becoming long-term ambassadors for the organisation.

Another important evolution is the rise of NFC/RFID technology that is being used to build digital communities away from the social networks. Nike recently implemented NFC chips into all of the NBA jerseys they sell globally, giving fans a chance to receive personalised content and connect with a global community. Adidas also launched a similar initiative, implementing the technology into all of the World Cup footballs being sold.

There is huge scope for these platforms to build community and support creators and business like Skute (one of our partners) have been innovating in this space for the past few years.

Handing over creative control

Finally, if brands want to create comms that will stand out and move towards art over ads, they need to hand over creative control.

Kyra TV is a new media network that has achieved incredible success over the past year, closing deals with brands like Converse, Unilever and HP to name a few.

Below is a unique example of some of their content that is brand funded and shows how brands can give away creative control to the right partners and as a result achieve high engagement. The idea was simple, the presenters on the PAQ show (a fashion programme on Kyra TV) were challenged to create an ad for converse.

They were also challenged by Adidas to launch their new Adicolor range with an iconic lookbook. These examples paint an interesting picture for the future of advertising as brands hand over creative control from in-house teams and agencies to influencers and creators that have highly engaged audiences.

A few more examples

I’ll leave you with some notable case studies on how brands have created art over traditional ads. Some of the examples are based on interesting product innovations whereas others are focussed on how brands have supported artists.

Tiger Presents: Air-Ink

Volvo Life Paint

Absolut x Anish Kapoor

Sennheiser and Pink Floyd

Converse Rubber Tracks

Absolut Art (no video for this one, just hit the link instead)

Inder is the founder and CEO of KRPT. You can follow Inder on Twitter and find him on LinkedIn. Learn more about KRPT on their website.

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