[-empyre-] empyre: circumventing and disrupting norms in art and in advertising

Shervin Afshar shervinafshar at gmail.com
Sun Nov 8 12:44:09 EST 2009


I'm a new subscriber to -empyre- mailing list, so I introduce myself shortly
and get back to the topic.

My name is Shervin Afshar. Currently, I'm a student of Interface Cultures
master program (http://interface.ufg.ac.at) in University of Arts and Design
in Linz, Austria. Meanwhile, I'm working in Ars Electronica FutureLab (
http://www.aec.at/futurelab_about_en.php). Media art, history and theory of
new media, generative art, and artificial intelligence in art are some of my
current interests.

As a continuation to the list of viral marketing campaigns provided by
Renate which were campaigns based on the use Internet video sites, I like to
mention some other examples which can also show us some different though
related trends in this field:

1. Campaign for the Nine Inch Nails' album "Year Zero" in 2007. Main aspects
of this campaign, which you can read about it in details here (
http://www.theplugg.com/nin-and-viral-marketing/), are connecting the
physical fan memorabilia (t-shirts, buttons, etc) and "found object" (USB
flash disks) to the different layers of the marketing campaign (fake
websites reporting a dystopian scenario). This adds a layer of mystery and
puzzle-solving and discovery to the campaign.

Also, during this campaign the band intentionally leaked a few of the songs
from the upcoming albums using those "found" USB flash disks. These tracks
soon were shared by fans online which brought the RIAA in. This can be
considered a provocative act by the campaign designers to raise controversy
through using the usual heavy media coverage of controversial activities of

2. "The Lost Experience"; campaign for ABC TV series "LOST" (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Experience#Viral_marketing_sites). The
most important aspects of this campaign are using different media
(alternative reality computer game, websites, TV and print commercials,
billboards, novels, and voice mail, as well as episodes of the TV series) to
build a web of interrelated contents hidden somewhere to be found by the
audience to advance further in the mystery puzzle. With this method, the
designers of the campaign extend the computer game, and therefore the
campaign itself, to the physical and online spheres.

3. The third example can not be considered a perfect example for a "case
study" for the fact that it is taken from two novels; "Pattern Recognition"
a novel by William Gibson which was published in 2003, mentions mysterious
video footage pieces appearing here and there on the Internet and reaching a
cultish fame. A "fan-base" of people discussing and analyzing these pieces
on online forums. The book also mentions an advertising agency who
commissions one of the fans of the footage to find out about the mystery and
methods of people behind the production of the footage with the aim to
commercialize it.

In his next novel, "Spook Country" (2006), Gibson returns to the same ideas
of hypermedia-based viral marketing and even some of the characters from the
previous novel. This time the media which is of interest of the marketing
company is locative art created with augmented reality (AR) methods.

The methods and processes of viral marketing mentioned in Gibson's novels,
show some kind of prediction in coming trends.

I hope the examples mentioned would open the way to deeper analysis about
the use of connected narratives in virtual and real world, use of
hypermedia, and branding novel methods in new media art as marketing

Looking forward to the upcoming discussions.


On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 20:37, Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:

> Thanks Tim for mentioning the media theorist, Bernard Steigler’s, writing
> on the virulent unstoppable market of a web of data that we acknowledge
> today is often times subliminally positioned within the proliferation of
> value.
> In “Viral Economy” Baudrillard writes about biological virus, terrorism,
> the stock market, company takeovers and specifically art as contagious.
> “…art, which is now everywhere subjected to the problem of the fake, the
> authentic, the copy, the clone, the simulation-a veritable contagion that
> de-stabilizes aesthetic values, causing them to lose their immunity as
> well- and simultaneously undergoing the delirious, speculative bidding
> wars of the art market.  It is no longer a market in fact; it is a
> centrifugal proliferation of value that corresponds exactly to the
> metastases of a body irradiated by dough.”
> While over the next four weeks we will highlight the art-practices of
> those who circumvent, disrupt and critique the data streams of the
> virulent art market and those of advertising messages, images, videos and
> all the rest, I’ve linked a few historical marketing campaigns whose
> high-profile advertising agencies circumvented and disrupted old norms of
> image mass-marketing. These advertising messages were crafted to be
> personal and contemporary and were most times directed at specialized,
> targeted audiences. At first glance these messages were not obvious as
> advertisements using gaming strategies, animation, avatars, You Tube,
> Flickr, blogging, among many others.   In all cases advertisers banked on
> the fact that their target customer would share the information with her
> own social networks.  And indeed it worked.
> One of the early examples of this appropriation from 2001 is Burger King’s
> Subservient Chicken.  While based on a series of television ads the
> online, viral marketing campaign was disguised as an interactive gaming
> site featuring a person in a chicken suit who interactively playacts the
> viewers typed directives out as if they were both at home playing a
> charades like game.  Other segments of the online site feature a casino
> game and a chicken mask you can construct and wear. The campaign was so
> successful it ran until 2007.
> http://www.bk.com/en/us/campaigns/subservient-chicken.html
> Cadbury’s Gorilla campaign was disguised as a music video in 2007.
> Launched on You Tube after the company was facing huge losses due to a
> batch of salmonella tainted chocolate.  The You Tube video received 50,000
> hits during the first week of viewing.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnzFRV1LwIo
> The Total Blender ads are featured on an internet site as infomercials for
> the entry level Blendtec Blender.   Disguised as science fair lab
> experiments that you should not perform in your own home the ongoing
> series has blended everything from laser pointers and silly putty to an I
> phone. The other side of the site provides a variety of items that are
> safe to blend at home such as coffee and chicken soup.
> My favorite blends glow sticks.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l69Vi5IDc0g
> While introduced on You Tube the phrase Will it blend? has become an
> internet meme. The Blendtec Company now not only sells their blenders but
> merchandise based on the infomercial’s star and originator, Tom Dickson.
> Dickson himself has become a celebrity in his own right appearing on late
> night TV and the history channel. The site as of June of this past year
> boasted of 83,238,033 views, an average of 967,884 views.
> The Viral Factory is notorious for using mockumentary film or computer
> generated animation and viral seeding for advertising a promotion. They
> have even emulated pornography as in their animation for Diesel, the
> London based clothing firm who was celebrating their thirtieth birthday.
> “We created a film titled SFW XXX to globally celebrate Diesels 30th
> birthday. The charming viral featured clips from a raft of 80s porn films
> that we cunningly censored with humorous CGI. Diesel consumers should
> continue to expect the unexpected”.
> Don’t watch this one with your kids around!
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p6pSi6x46Y
> On that note I’ll say good-bye for now.  Renate
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor
> Department of Art
> Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
> Website:  http://www.renateferro.net
> Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
> Art Editor, diacritics
> http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/dia/
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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