a nice tug on the heart strings..

great talent from anywhere to anywhere.. & some lessons for communication design

Belgian musician Stromae makes the most of his cosmopolitan background, talent, and creative communicative flair to capture attention, initially using only modest technical means. This track, with an influential aesthetic, has been a huge hit in the Francophone world, along with several other songs of his.

His video for a song, Formidable, that was number one in France had him pretending to be drunk and broken hearted in Brussels and getting the actual assistance of friendly cops and others who were fans of his. It has had even more views, and has English subtitles. The song has a key line that is clever in French, which translates into English into the rather simpler ‘you were wonderful, I was pathetic’ (formidable vs fort minable; see here for further details of the lyrics and video.  He has done several filmed performances of the song in public spaces, including in Montreal, that in turn went viral.

In a nicely ironic (perhaps post) post-modern vein he playfully deconstructs his own songs, and at least feigns the ease with which music can be created with a Mac and a little keyboard in a series of ‘lessons’ on music-making that can all be found on youtube. Here is one, more polished, featuring the above song “tous les mêmes” (‘you’re all the same’), with English subtitles, and through which the song and his persona in the official video come to make more sense. He plays both male and female roles in an argument between lovers.

In this lesson he playfully assembles one of his greatest hits ‘Alors on dance’ in front of a small audience using his Mac (only in French but watch it anyway). His charm is well on display.

If interested here is the official video of the song and there is also a nice version with him performing with Moroccan musicians on traditional Arab instruments in Marrakesh, introduced by a popular French comedian he collaborates with.

Stromae’s irreverence coupled with joie de vivre has proven infectious for audiences and contrasts with the pretentiousness of some of the mainstream popular music industry. Corporate communications campaigns that centre on shareable content have to show at least something of the talent, effective execution and modesty that artists like Stromae have led audiences to expect.


nice video

A nice video by French team Cauboyz; good use of ‘found space’, clever cutting and playing with tinting..

Prince in passing

New Yorker purple rainIconic songwriter, producer and performer Prince had a strong sense of how to design one’s own personal brand. He was indelibly associated with the colour purple, but also playfully and ironically renamed himself a number of times. He passed away aged 57 on 21 April 2016. The New Yorker quickly released its next edition’s cover in honour of him, promptly by his famous song Purple Rain.

Wonderwall’s Masamichi Katayama

Katayama Masamichi Wonderwall

I mentioned in class today the relationship with collecting objects and creative resources: the current exhibition of part of interior designer Masamichi Katayama is testimony to that. His design studio Wonderwall has done a number of renowned projects. Here is a link to the current exhibition, and to a brief discussion of it on the very useful Tokyo Art Beat site (which has a good iOS app). For insight into Wonderwall and past projects see here. Here is a short video with Katayama narrating his work for Mackintosh in London:


And on the Lexus Intersect space in Aoyama, with English voice over..





quick thinking boosts FI & Ferrari brands

FI crying kid

A little boy got upset when his favourite driver crashed out of the Spanish grand prix so quick thinking staff had him meet the driver and be central to the final celebrations

Here is one media report on the handling of it, and by implication critical of past indifference by the F1 leadership to social media and fan engagement, see (hopefully no paywall restrictions), and another, rather shorter, report (certainly open).



Japanese patriotism ‘made in China’?

nihonjin de yokattaA A rather bizarre development: the national association of Shinto shrines has sponsored the production of posters that effectively translate as ‘I’m glad I am Japanese/was born Japanese’ with a picture of a young woman. Yet it turns out that the woman featured is Chinese and that the image was available for use on Getty Images‘ commercial photobank, upon payment of a license fee. The BBC has a print story on it. The posters started appearing around Kyoto, without attribution, and attracted some criticism for nationalism. The Shinto association has defended the posters, saying that the objective is to encourage the flying of the national flag.

Example perception topic

Asahi Beverages has a new campaign for their water/dairy product. We will look in class about reactions to some of the events that have been staged as part of the campaign.



high heels as persuasion (with men only)

An interesting study that shows the profound difference wearing high heels made to men’s preparedness to cooperate with a woman’s request; although also to be approached at a bar when alone (astonishingly soon but the study was conducted in France..) To quote a little..

“The study found if a woman drops a glove on the street while wearing heels, she’s almost 50 percent more likely to have a man pick it up for her than if she’s wearing flats. Another finding: A woman wearing heels is twice as likely to persuade men to stop and answer survey questions on the street. And a high-heeled woman in a bar waits half the time to get picked up by a man, compared to when her heel is nearer to the ground.”