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Latest News

Pretty faces aren’t enough for brands anymore

Blackberry appoints Alicia Keys as Creative Director

Why brands insist on giving celebrities new fancy titles.

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March 10, 2013 12:14 by



“I can’t define advertising anymore. We used to be able to sum it up with billboards and ads, but it’s now just a mishmash of new elements. Every innovation in technology is affecting the advertising world and it has no rules anymore. Brands need to keep surprising us,” says Andrej Arsenijevic, Creative Director at Cheil Worldwide, a Korean creative company described as ‘one of the world’s leading advertising groups’.

Kipp sits across and we discuss Alicia Keys. More specifically, we talk about her (as we both agreed) rather unusual role as Blackberry’s creative director. Like a few other brands including Polaroid (Lady Gaga) and Intel (Will.I.Am), Blackberry has recently appointed the singer to be much more than just a pretty face plastered on a product.

At the time, Keys said she is going to be working directly with developers and carriers on the platform, as well as with other artists. Andrej says these new appointments are happening because brands want to desperately connect with consumers and engage them on new and interesting levels.

But doesn’t it bother you that she carries the same title, I ask.

“No, it doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t feel badly about it and I know it’s just a title,” he answers. “We’ve done campaigns with regional celebrities too, but we didn’t call them our creative directors. If anything, wouldn’t you be flattered to have the same title, particularly if you admire that celebrity?” He tells Kipp they’re currently in the middle of a Samsung campaign called Canvas Collected and working with Mohammed Harib, the creator and voice of Freej, a Dubai-based animated show. They haven’t labelled him as a ‘celebrity creative director’ as such, but the role is similar.

Andrej says this trend is bound to gain traction and popularity because as we ‘consumers’ get smarter, more demanding and essentially harder to please – brands need to show us that they’re not just presenting a ‘pretty face on a logo’ anymore. All they’re doing is just looking for new ways to engage with consumers and humanise their products, he adds. In the world we live in, consumers have more power than ever before, and their voices are louder than they’ve ever been.

We witness regular revolutions on Twitter nowadays, he laughs. If anything, we’re the ones that have pushed brands into coming up with unusual tactics to get our attention.

What Andrej believes these celebrity creative directors will do – aside from taking on new roles – is possibly begin to produce content worth engaging with. He proposes the example of Alicia Keys possibly inviting fans to help create her next song. “Brands should keep in mind that they need to see it through. They need to choose celebrities that can help them create interesting content,” he says.

But why did having that famous face stop being enough?

“Consumers aren’t stupid,” Andrej retorts. “We won’t buy into it anymore. We all know the motive behind brands doing that and we’re becoming a lot more demanding.” When I bring up the critics that – despite celebrities having fancy new titles – will still see right through it, he says it’s all about how the company takes it from there.

“Well, that will all depend on how the campaign is carried out,” he concludes. “Brands are looking for more subtle ways to connect with you; a much less in-your-face kind of way. Now is the time for them to be brave and dare to try different things.”



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