Monday, August 14, 2006

We'll always have Paris (Hilton)

Here's something I read in a magazine famously called Famous (a trashy tabloid style magazine admirable for avoiding any content that might make it seem in any way 'worthy'). I'll read anything if you make me wait.

"The only rule is - don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BLEND IN" (my capitals).

Paris Hilton

The one and only Paris Hilton - where did she come from.

Was there a time before Paris? B.P? Was it the Pamela Era?

Do you need to make a sex tape to become a celebrity?


Who wants to be famous for being famous? Pretty much everybody, it would seem.

But she has a point. Homogeneity is the curse of branding. Most products and services are bland. Their conception was the product of incidental thinking, rather than genuine insight, i.e. the purpose of the product was to make money.

There is nothing wrong with making money. But there has rarely been an important product created with that purpose in mind. The most significant products begin with an idea, motivated by solving a problem. The best are solutions to problems no one else has either been able to solve–or they didn't even realise the problem existed.

Phil Knight made a lot of money from the brand he created. But he didn't set out, in the beginning, to create wealth. He stepped up to the mark with an idea that he could make a better running shoe if he poured rubber into a waffle iron to make a cushioned sole. His passion was athletics. Today, Nike makes a killing from its athletics products but has remained, with only a few notable exceptions, faithful to the founder's original idea - creating authentic athletic experiences.

There have been plenty of manufacturers who have seen the extraordinary rise of participant sports and sports media in the late 20th Century and have lusted for a slice of the action. Nike created mould breaking communications for its brand - beginning with the 'Revolution' ad in the 1980's and the iconic 'Just Do It' tag line, both the work of Portland Oregon ad agency Wieden & Kennedy. The work is credited with being the first post-modern ads. They had a certain ironic, random quality. Most importantly, whether you understood the content with perfect clarity, you certainly recognised the Nike brand and its iconoclastic, One & Onliness. Of course it didn't take long for the market, fueled by market share envy to want to spoil Nike's party.

Before long the Nike style of communication had become de rigeur, the convention (and not just in the sports goods category–advertising agencies tout themselves on creativity, but rarely orginality–it's a money thing).
So, as the centrifuge of the market spins to evenly distribute the cream throughout the solution, Nike constantly reinvents itself to remain fresh, apart and relevant (no mean feat).

The commercial below remains true to the original idea, spawned by Phil Knight. It's technique is decidedly Nike (I've never seen it used before), the athlete's performance is absolutely amazing and the stream of conscious is perfectly in tune with the tension between our true passion for sport and an ironic reference to, some would say, a Nike fueled furnace of professionalism–for which cash is kindling. Another irony is that the performer, with her astonishing talent, is obscure while Paris Hilton commands ridiculous attention for simply being vapid.






I have discussed celebrity before - click to view 'Celebrity Roast'


Agree or disagree? Leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if you have 'Big Brother' in NZ (probably as it's fairly insidious). This is the Paris Hilton effect multipled - watch a group of people who have absolutely nothing to offer society spout inanities for weeks on end.

    And then, they're famous, get their own TV shows and carry on propagating the dumming down of real celebrity.

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