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Lady Gaga: "Inventor" And "Creative Director" For Polaroid?
Now, just cross the road and pick up your "creative director" title
By Hans Ebert
(more articles from this author)
2010-01-16
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"I am so proud to announce my new partnership with Polaroid as the creative director and inventor of specialty projects," said Lady Gaga. "The Haus of Gaga has been developing prototypes in the vein of fashion/technology/photography innovation--blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era--and we are excited to collaborate on these ventures with the Polaroid brand. Lifestyle, music, art, fashion: I am so excited to extend myself behind the scenes as a designer, and to as my father puts it--finally, have a real job."

"Lady Gaga's broad creative talents and the way she connects with her fans in her own, unique manner made her a natural choice for Polaroid," said Stephen Miller, co-CEO of PLR IP Holdings. "Polaroid has had a special connection with its customers for years, we are delighted to be partnering with Lady Gaga to continue with that tradition and bring new and exciting products to the next generation."

I read the above news, oh boy, and had to wonder what Lady Gaga, certainly the most ubiquitous name and brand in music today is doing attaching her wagon to a half-dead brand now owned by a Hong Kong businessman with, I guess, more than a fair chunk of change to throw her away. Or, perhaps, there is some method to all this madness and the world will go, well, gaga over taking Polaroid pictures again? And as Lady Gaga is now also known as an "inventor," who knows what else will come from her head and into our hands, all of which made this marriage of Polaroid and Lady Gaga make me think of other "bands and brands" and names and titles and also some very transparent shuck and dive marketing plots and ploys.

A few months ago, for example, Lindsay Lohan was "artistic advisor" to Ungaro. I am still lost as to what Lindsay Lohan actually does for a living. Apart from a role in a remake of "The Parent Trap" many years ago and a more recent role- like two years ago- in one of those 'Herbie, The Love bug" movies, all she has done for herself is be seen as a half-baked quasi-celebrity who is known for her DUI charges, her stints in, out and in and again in rehab, a publicity-hungry [and divorced] mother and father feasting on their daughter's illegitimately got fame and her flirtations with bi-sexuality. And for all this, she becomes the "Artistic Director" for Ungaro.

These sudden implosion celebrity marriages of convenience with brands and "celebritydom" being used to flog products have always had a very hollow ring to them. Let's see, we have "Fiddy" selling his own brand of vodka, Sean Combes aka Diddy aka Puffy hawking sartorial elegance via his Sean Combes line of clothing, Pharrel Williams has his super-expensive BBC- Billionaires' Boys Club- and Ice Cream range of sneakers. Not to be caught flat-footed, the Filipino dude with Black Eyes Peas who jumps around onstage was in Hong Kong recently to flog his line of sneakers.

Gwen Stefani has her l.a.m.b. brand which, one supposes is better than having a l.a.m.e. brand, J-Lo has her own line of parfum de J-Lo and line of lingerie, Reese Witherspoon also has her line of fragrance, Rihanna can be seen staring down from giant billboards in Asia flogging something or another...and so it goes.

When in advertising, we would only turn to "celebrity endorsements" when desperate for an idea, or if we knew that the client was a fan/groupie of the celebrity we were presenting. It was a very lazy way of holding onto an account. But laziness seems to be in the air today and brand managers are sure not what they used to be.

Today, at least in Asia, Johnnie Walker whiskey is associated with golf. Why, I don't know. I remember trying to get the brand to sponsor some of our acts when with EMI and being told, No, no, we're very much behind the game of golf. No music, please, we are golfers.

Chivas Regal, on the other hand, sponsored nothing else but music events. And though they helped me out a lot when at Universal Music by buying some absolutely shocking compilations we produced and which were made up of names like Humble Pie, Thin Lizzy, the Troggs etc. They also sponsored some of our artists more-successful After-show events and for which they paid extremely well and had a "lock" on every chill-out events through their association with the Cafe Del Mar series.

Their association with music went a little haywire, when, in China, they chose to sponsor every act that toured the country and almost became the official Chinese Fan Club of the Black Eye Peas in the process by bringing the act out there way too many times. Man, with the money the group must have made outta Chivas, one would have expected Will.i.am to buy himself a new full name.

What always made me wonder was what exactly was Chivas' me timbers' strategy and objective? Maybe there was none... Forget the line, "brand awareness" as no one goes to a concert and gives a damn about who the "sponsor" is and nor are they gonna rush out of a gig thirsting for a drop of "Dad's 25-year-old whiskey." Chivas and music and then, Chivas and Black Eye Peas, Chivas and Norah Jones? The latter was an even more strange mix than Chivas and Chinese Green Tea. Yet, these partnerships go on...

Today, Dave A Stewart has quickly gone from singing about Obama to raising the standards of Orgasms with his line of sex toys called Coco De Mer. He is also Nokia's Agent Of Change. Yes, it's a cute title like "Chief Enhancer," but many who have either worked or tried working with the musician-producer-film maker-entrepreneur have asked, what exactly has "Captain" Dave changed at Nokia? I have no idea and get the chills these days when even hearing the word "Change" and all who dived into that moshpit of Change promised by the Yes We Can Guy.

As for Dave, I like the man, he's written and produced some classics when with Annie Lennox and an Eurythmic, "Sweet Dreams" is eerily like many Lady Gaga tracks, Lady Gaga has, no doubt studied the great Miss Lennox and The Dave is someone with more ideas than even me.

What might he do for Nokia? Perhaps he will bundle his sex toys with Nokia phones and create some new kinda vibes? Perhaps Nokia's boast that its "Coming With Music" will finally make sense and have some relevance? Perhaps Dave's hits with the Eurythmics- "Sweet Dreams" and "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves" will also take on a new meaning?

So, today, we have Agents Of Change, Artistic Directors, Artistic Advisors, Inventors, Creative Directors and more. And, with music being an art form, it stands to reason that all artists are creative. It also stands to reason that many are not and are simply flying the creative flag by the seat of their pants for financial gain. Let's not forget all the whooping and hollering about Madonna's "designs" for H&M? Well, that self-imploded quickly enough and, perhaps, where Madonna stumbled and crashed, Lady Gaga will succeed.

After all, while Madonna is more "Madge" these days and looking more and more like some character outta "Death Becomes You," the Lady Gaga Brand marches forward relentlessly.

Sure, there is an artist hiding in there, but Lady Gaga is and has always been a brand much like the Spice Girls were a brand.

From the name to the outfits to the stage show to the whispers that the Lady is a tramp or a Mister, from recording "Poker Face" just when online poker was happening, being "discovered" by Perez Hilton, this has been very clever and successful branding. The music is secondary. The packaging comes first. And perhaps this is why music has become so discardable?

As we might have once said when in an actual recording studio and listening to a playback, it- the music- has got buried in the mix. Priorities are very different today and, I don't think, for the better.

In advertising, we had to hone our skills as copywriters/wordsmiths or/and art directors before being rewarded with the title of Creative Director. We had to earn our stripes. Today, nearly everyone is a "creative director." We became musicians when we learned about chords and harmonies and walls and bridges and cross-town traffic. Now, just cross the road and pick up your "creative director" title.

It's all too easy today and so easy that nothing much matters. When those making music also see themselves as "inventors" and make pacts with brands and products, there is something else that's not quite right with this very imperfect world. Don't get me wrong. I am no purist and I believe everyone is entitled to make money with their "celebrityhood." What doesn't work for me is when the pieces just don't fit and phoniness comes through loud and clear.

Today, I heard that Lindsay Lohan, or LoLo to the media, wants to go to India and "save the children." This from the "artistic advisor " of Ungaro. This from a wasted and media-spoilt quasi-celebrity.

Plus, didn't t LoLo's former "bff" Paris Hilton announce that she was gonna "save all the children of Africa" the moment she got outta the clink on her DIU charges? She changed her mind and went to par-taaay in Vegas instead.

One has to wonder if all these "celebrity marriages" with brands have struck any chord at all with consumers and music fans.

Kristine, for example, says she loves Victoria Beckhams's line of jeans. She's never met the woman, but she has no time for "skeletor." She does, however, love the jeans 'cos they fit and 'cos, to her, they are quality jeans. Quality and being only associated with quality says much to me about a celebrity getting behind a product. If not, it's only about "the deal" and which means pimping one's self from brand to brand.

In Asia, Actress-Singer Karen Mok is at every social event and every Grand Opening- even the opening of an envelope- and is the face of around 6-8 different brands. Do consumes give a rat's arse that she is? I doubt it. It could be anyone endorsing their products. They'll sell regardless. But having brand managers use and re-use this tired face over and over again only shows equally tired and lazy marketing. Rent-a-celebrity? Get Karen Mok. It's not her fault. She's knows she's no spring chicken, and if she doesn't grab the money, someone else will. Brand loyalty, my ass.

If brands are trying to connect, especially with music fans, through "celebrity endorsements" and "celebrity-designed" and "created" products, they just might be throwing good money after bad. The more "mature" consumer might be gullible enough to be taken in by a famous face. Not so today's young consumers who, like music, wish to discover things for themselves.

As for today's consumers, they dislike people trying to dupe them or to being spoon-fed. It's like they've channeled Dylan's warning: Don't follow leaders and watch your parking meters. They're watching their wallets and where each dollar goes. They're also watching who does what and how.

And how some brands talk la-la and very few make anyone today go ga-ga. Lady Gaga, or not.

Related News from Mi2N:
» Lady Gaga Named Creative Director For Specialty Line Of Polaroid Imaging Products
» Lady Gaga Breaks Another Record


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