In a world where marketers are always upping the flash ‘n glam factor with of-the-moment celebs, and über-produced spots airbrushed beyond all conceivable reality, it’s refreshing to see a fashion brand that’s not afraid to mine its roots, in all their simplistic, low-fi glory.
Three new spots from Converse’s new “Disruption” campaign—the name refers to a creative strategy in which the images are intended to “disrupt” TV viewing with low-budget flair—the classic kicks label revisits its rockin’ roots with unusual results. (PS… Check them out the videos via the Youtube links below.)
“We wanted spots that would stand out from the two commercials they’re going to be sandwiched between on TV,” Mike Byrne, creative director at Anomaly, New York, told me of the spots, at right. It’s Anomaly’s second outing with the brand since Converse parted with Butler, Shine & Partners, Sausalito, Calif.
“It’s about jarring the viewer from his or her comfort zone, snapping them out of zombie land,” Byrne added. “If you’re watching ‘American Idol’ for example, you’re in a particular mindspace, so we tried to think up ways that we could shake you out of that.”
The results agree with his theory.
“Unsigned Band,” features a blurry, still image from a 1994 concert from unknown punkers Mightaswell, superimposed with scrolling text detailing the band’s story. While listening to one of their tracks, which the text tells us was “recorded in a bedroom on a Tuesday night in Gainsville, Florida,” we learn that while they never achieved success, it was a fun ride for the boys of Mightaswell. A simple “Converse 1908” tag closes the 30-second spot, sans product shots. Definitely not the norm for fashion advertising.
Quick gossip note: Mightaswell was actually Anomaly art director Ross Aboud’s post-college band, but no details on whether or not he penned the thrash anthem heard in the spot, or if it was his bedroom. He was their Ringo, er, in the sense that he was manned the drums.
The second spot, “Three Chords,” is a giggle and a half for me, since it features 11 year-old Sophie Kasakove, of the Park Slope teen-rock band Carebears on Fire, singing a few lines from one of the group’s rebellious anthems (“Don’t tell me what to do/what to say/what to wear"...) while the scrolling text reads: “Learn Three Chords. You’ll know 1,000 songs.”
I’m particularly intrigued by the use of COF, since I don’t imagine many other people know about this band, though they were profiled in New York. Perhaps it’s a little Easter egg for a rarified bunch that reads up on weird concept bands like the ‘bears. (Don’t ask how I knew about them, the course of reporting lends itself to the absorption of much bizarre triviata.)
The final spot, “Me/We,” is a simple graphic trick in which “M” is inverted to “W” over 30 seconds of Bob Marley’s irie-feelin’ hit “One Love.” Simple and relaxing, but what the ad doesn’t show is the wacko story behind the inspiration.
I’ll let Mike tell it in his own words:
“So Einstein was giving this lecture in Vienna about the theory of relativity, and a students asks him: ‘You invented the theory of relativity, how is it that you don’t have an ego?’ And Einstein says: ‘The day I came up with the theory of relativity, I woke up in a bed with the German language already in my head. I didn’t invent that language. I woke up in cotton sheets that I didn’t make. When I got to the lab where I did the work that led to this theory, I moved all of humanity with me.”
“That was the inspiration behind ‘Me/We,’” Byrne explains. “It’s that sense of ‘I did it with everybody.’”
I have to say, that inspiration in and of itself would make one kick-ass spot. Seriously, who doesn’t love Einstein anecdotes? That’s right, tell me I’m wrong as you rush to take that poster of the good doctor (you know, the one where he's sticking his tongue out at the camera) off of your wall.