Scion and Red Bull? Not just cars and energy drinks

Sometimes I forget Scion is a car company.  That’s because most of my encounters with Scion haven’t been through car commercials or advertisements, but rather Scion A/V, the company’s platform for promoting music and the visual arts (the “A/V” stands for audio/visual).  I know Scion A/V because I go to their parties at the annual Miami Winter Music Conference every March, or through their Scion A/V Radio mixes , or because of their Scion Music(less) Music Conference that was held this past fall as “a resource for evolving careers in the music industry”.  Scion is making awesome things happen in music right now, does it overshadow the fact that it’s actually a car company?

At first glance, maybe.  But perhaps a more complete assessment would be that Scion is tapping into a deeper level of advertising and identifying with its consumer base.  Scion recognizes its target audience as young, smart, creative, and who are also coming of buying-power age in a time that places a huge emphasis on personalization and individual expression.  Scion therefore is shaping their brand to embody these values, allowing the opportunity for customization of the product, and engaging themselves with creative communities and causes that attract their target buyers.  Or, in the words of their own website…

“The Scion brand often applies new practices in all aspects of its business and pushes the creativity envelope with non-traditional advertising and marketing to engage young consumers. Scion also supports originality through its programs in the artistic community.”

Scion is an example of companies that are evolving into media brands, extending the brand beyond the normal (or now, outdated?) concepts of advertising.  Who else is part of this media branding vanguard?  None other than Red Bull, who was recently named one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies by FastCompany.

Similarly to Scion, Red Bull has different platforms for several media endeavors.  The Red Bull brand has expanded so far beyond the notion of an energy drink, which becomes exceedingly clear when you visit the Red Bull Content Pool website, the hub of the company’s various interactive campaigns and programs.  I was almost overwhelmed when I went to the site, and saw the number of “media rooms” that make up the Red Bull Media House….

(screen shot taken by yours truly)

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Similarly to Scion, I am most familiar with Red Bull through the Red Bull Music Academy thanks to their parties, their videos, and their RBMA radio.  What is so interesting about both Red Bull and Scion is that they’re creating their own content across all these different platforms, and it’s content that is not even focused necessarily on the product.  As the FastCompany article points out, they’ve taken the idea of sponsorship from beyond merely throwing money at something and putting a logo on it, to actually supporting the ideas, dreams, and lifestyles of their consumers.

Taking sponsorship even further, Scion has recently introduced a new platform called Scion/Motivate, that provides money and mentorship to young passionate entrepreneurs.

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I’ve heard of other companies providing funding for innovative ideas (I think Pepsi did something like that for environmental issues?), but not to this extent where the entire brand represents support and recognition of the consumer’s lifestyle.

This new approach to advertising can maybe be summed up in this quote from the FastCompany article:
“Red Bull is a media company that sells drinks instead of ads.”
It’s an interesting and exciting example of how media and advertising are rapidly evolving along with consumer tastes.

Parisian streetwear, classic poets, & innovation skills

My roommate just returned from Paris, and got me a gift from one of my favorite boutiques in the world, Colette.  Admittedly most of the clothing at Colette is out of my price range, but they have a great range of street wear, especially t-shirts, that both my roommate and I are crazy for (who cares if they’re made for men?).

She brought me back a t-shirt designed by Quatre Cent Quinze, a Parisian street wear company that, in the words of their own website, is “… inspired by arts such as music, paintings, cinema, and its graphics breathe the vibes of Hip-Hop too.”  The shirt is part of a line they designed featuring famous poets of the past, paired with hip-hop lyrics of today.  Below is the one she got for me, featuring the poet Arthur Rimbaud, along with the tag that came attached to it.

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How does this relate back to the topic of innovation? When I saw this design, I immediately thought to our Innovation class and the five discovery skills of an innovator we have been reading about in Jeff Dyer’s book The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.  The skill I thought of in particular was “associational thinking”.  Associating is the way that innovative minds synthesize connections across seemingly unrelated fields, ideas, problems, and/or questions.  Associating involves seeing the intersection between these different areas or ideas, and being able to use knowledge of one to better understand, or even improve, another.

This t-shirt design is a cool example of associating in the context of art and design.  The designer took two very unrelated fields (19th-century French poetry, and post-millennial hop-hop) and found a connection between the two.  Knowledge of the poet and the rapper were applied to one another to highlight the similarities in their work and lifestyles.  This, in fact, became the basis of how I explained “associating” to my roommate when she asked what we were studying (though I made it clear that although it would be really great to study Colette t-shirts, it’s not really part of the curriculum).

While this isn’t necessarily an example of “innovation” in a typical sense, I thought it would be a fun way to show the association thought process in action… it helps get those innovative juices flowing.

We be innovatin’

innovations

I want to start with a short introduction.

Though it may not seem like it at first glance, this is an academic blog for an MBA class at Mills College on the topic of “innovation”. We all have to create innovation blogs as a course requirement. I started my blog, but quickly felt like it was becoming boring and lacking in creativity or originality… what an unfortunate paradox for a blog that is supposed to be on the topic of innovation.

So, I decided to scrap my first blog and change it up to be more reflective of my personal interests, highlighting innovation in ways that are cool and creative and that any of my peers would find amusing/interesting beyond the scope of an MBA class.

So, here’s to setting the bar high.  I’m excited to get excited by different products, companies, ideas, and people.  Let’s get innovatin’.