Last night me and my boys (Daniel and Chris, The murder of my sweet) went to see our friends in Smash into Pieces and Skillet at Debaser Strand, Stockholm. It was great spending time together outside of the studio and both bands delivered, as expected! I tried a Brazilian cider of witch I can’t remember the name but it had lime and menhta flavor *tasty*! Got to look it up ’till next summer!
Some pics from the show
Never go to a live show without ear plugs. These ones I got when we played at Wacken Open Air. Gotta love the case!
Hanging out at the bar waiting for the show
Smash into Pieces
Smash into Pieces
Smash into Pieces
Smash into Pieces
Me and Per
Adam and me
Benjamin Jennebo and Per Berquist after the show
The two men in my life, Daniel Flores and Christopher Vetter
After last week’s post about storytelling some of you requested that I’d share the report I was going to do for class. So here it is, my report on storytelling for the campaign “Like a Swede”.
Like a Swede is an initiative from TCO, a trade union confederation, and the PR Bureau ANR BBDO in order to get Swedes to learn more about the unique model which distinguishes Sweden, and its neighboring countries, from almost every other country in the world. The Swedish Part Model is a collaboration between trade unions and employers’ organisations.
“Many look at the trade union as an insurance policy in the workplace. Meanwhile, most Swedes live with the belief that the state regulates our labour market. That’s why they are surprised when they hear otherwise. That it actually is the trade unions and employers’ organisations that negotiate the conditions on the labour market. The state has handed over the responsibility to these two parties, and it isn’t really that surprising. Who else are best suited to address the issues if not the ones that are the closest to them? That’s what we call The Swedish Part Model, and the results of the negotiations are the collective agreements. In the contracts you can find agreements on salaries, pension, insurances, annual leave days, parental leave and much more. Things that are easily taken for granted in Sweden. That’s why we created Like a Swede. A way to show how everyone with collective agreements in Sweden can enjoy the same benefits that are usually only available to the very richest in other countries.”
For the video they created this character “Joe Williams”. He looks like a celebrity and he’s rich and therefor can afford to live like a Swede. He explains it as the latest life style trend and has previously tried Kabbala, Kundalini, Kama Sutra, Raw, Vegan and Mediterranean without success.
You get to follow him on his maternity leave, when he uses his ”friskvårdsbidrag” and role playing as a Swedish ”pensionär”. You also get to meet his long time friend who’s not as privileged as Joe and can’t afford to live “like a Swede”. They compare our annual leave system with the Americans’ and finish off by drinking “nubbe” and singing “nubbevisa” about the Swedish part model.
The video was recorded in Los Angeles and went viral in America although it was originally aimed for the Swedes. The video was released on Jan 21 2014 and became the second most shared video on YouTube in the first 24 hours. The most shared video was Volvo’s “The epic split”. Today is has about 650 000 views and American medias, among them The Atlantic, cared to explain the benefits of this model to their readers.
I like the fact that they created a story that both Swedes and Americans can relate to. The message is easy, informative and fun. The question is if it backfired and gained more ground in America than in Sweden and whether that’s a good thing or not?
What I think they could have done differently is simply to take it further. The campaign gained so much buzz in social media that it should have been easy for TCO and ANR BBDO to be inspired by Old Spice and create one or more follow up videos where Joe answers questions from his fans. Did the money run out or didn’t it even cross their minds?
I also believe they should have created a Facebook page and an Instagram for Joe. There are approximately 2140 posts on Instagram under the hashtag #likeaswede but only a few is connected to the campaign and there are mainly memes of the context that people share. The difference between the campaign “Like a Swede” and the memes “#likeaswede” is the portraits about Swedes. In the video Sweden is a dream come true and in the pictures Swedes are unsocial and unwelcoming. With a profile of their own they could have controlled that since the hashtag becomes so connected to the campaign.
On Mars 21 2014 Swedish TV4 premiered the new Tv show “Wellcome to Sweden” where the American Bruce moves to Sweden with his girlfriend Emma. “Welcome to Sweden” is created by TV4 and the production companies Syskon, FLX and Entertainment One. The show will also be aired in America since NBC bought the television rights. I can’t help to think that there is a connection between the success behind the TCO campaign and the decision to air the show.
2013 was all about the release of Sony’s and Microsoft’s next generation consoles. We were all dazzled about the new features and the possibility to share your gaming experience in social media.
But “next gen” is beginning to mean something else too. How about a step closer to gender equality? As the gap between the number of male and female gamers slowly thins, so does gender disparity in games media. Women are joining the game (pun intended) and the female stereotype is changing. But there is still a long way to go.
Of the developers taking this stuff seriously, Bioware is taking leadership. And even then it took them three Mass Effects before Commander Shepard started to be used in the marketing material. They also made the effort to use both male and female protagonists in different trailers at E3 this year. BioWare is well regarded as a gender-friendly company both for offering strong, confident women, like Commander Shepard, as playable characters and for depicting romantic relationships beyond the heterosexual norm as in Dragon Age: Origins. But BioWare’s reputation for their progressive stances on these issues would not loom so large if these sorts of depictions were commonplace in video games.
A study from ESA (Entertainment Software Association) show that nearly half of all gamers are women (45%). Adult male gamers have an average of 17 years of experience playing video games, adult female gamers an average of 13 years. It also shows that women 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (19%).
There clearly is a big group of women playing video games so why aren’t there more female lead characters? It’s not that they are completely missing but let’s face it, there aren’t that many and statistically I bet the number is daunting. I don’t believe mainstream developers have a problem with including women, or racial minorities, in their games but that there’s a deep-seated assumption that the core audience for these sorts of games is mainly white men and boys who won’t accept anything else when it comes to who’s presented as the public face of big franchises. I also believe that many developers at big studios want to start changing that assumption, but don’t really know how to and that they are afraid of the perceived risk.
At GDC (Game Developers Conference) in Mars this year BioWare Montreal designer Manveer Heir gave a speech about stereotypes in gaming. Some say this was the most important moment of the conference. “I want us as an industry to stop being so scared… Let’s create a game that changes the core experience for the player… let’s find a way to challenge the majority and the minority perception of how we deal with race, gender, sexual orientation and all other sources of social injustices we have in our world” said Heir.
Ubisoft is also on to something but they’re struggling to get there. Last year, Assassin’s Creed IV’s ‘Cry Freedom’ DLC cast you as Adéwalé, a freed slave whose story line centered around the brutalities of slavery. But while 12 Years A Slave was winning Oscars, here the same themes were only touched on in the main game and then hived off as downloadable content.
I believe empathy with the protagonist should come from emotional back stories and shared experiences within the game, not from what sex or ethnicity the characters are.
At PAX Prime this year a panel was dedicated to “women surviving and thriving in the gaming industry”. For one hour several women currently working in games journalism talked about their struggles and successes within the industry. Mary Kish [Producer, GameSpot], Neha Tiwari [Executive Producer, GameSpot], Megan Farokhmanesh [Editor, Polygon], Naomi Kyle [Host, IGN], Jessica Chobot [Host, Nerdist], Tara Long [Rev3Games] all shared their experiences and thoughts on stereotypes and a change of the video game culture.
So maybe, just maybe, “Next Gen” will come to mean something more than the consoles. Maybe it’ll mean a more open minded community…
To end this rant I’ll leave you with some great games (in no particular order) with female protagonists:
Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream featuring Ellen Page)
Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority. Storytelling is increasingly used in advertising today in order to build customer loyalty. This marketing trend echoes the deeply rooted need of all humans to be entertained. Stories are illustrative, easily memorable, and allow any firm to create stronger emotional bonds with the customers.
This week in school we were given the task to identify and analyze storytelling in a campaign, free of choice, and present it in class next week. I have already chosen mine and perhaps I’ll share my analysis with you when it’s done 😉 In the meantime, here is a small example that I came across in today’s paper (in Swedish):
You should also check out my friend Louise’s blog. She has listed an excellent example of storytelling from Chanel (videos)
PIXAR is kind enough to share with the world their 22 rules of storytelling. This is mainly considered for making animated movies but can apply to anything really. I can relate to a lot of the rules both in marketing campaigns and when writing a song or a new album. For our upcoming album we definitely worked with the concept of storytelling. Especially #7 in the list “Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle” We basically wrote the album backwards!
Today I came across this story by a musician being sued by Lady Gaga for $1.4 million dollars for in the the first place having sued Gaga and her team for allegedly plagiarizing her song “Juda”. I haven’t heard the original song and can’t argue for either of their cases but the story she told was both scary and disheartening. The very thought of us “small time” musicians and song writers risking, that if we stand up to a corporation, bankruptcy. They’ll slam us with a $1.4 million dollar bill if we cry foul. You can, and you should, check out her post here!
And then there’s the story about illegal downloading… Well where should I start? How about an example of my experiences?
A couple of years ago a “fan” contacted me and asked me to check out his Facebook page where he was “promoting” my band. Happy about his invitation I visited the page and found a BitTorrent file for our recently released album. I approached him with the information that not only is it illegal but also highly unethical if you claim to be a fan. Unfortunately he didn’t agree with me.
I believe that if his intentions were to support our band he could just as easily have linked to a site the sold the album, like Amazon or any other. And why not link to the album on Spotify?
You might think you are doing the band a service by “spreading the word” but you’re in fact keeping them from things like going on tour or even recording another album. Because lets face it, if you can’t show for any sold units no one is gonna be willing to give you a budget for a new one, nor can they afford to send you on tour and let me tell you people, that’s expensive!
And that’s why we have the saying “Don’t quit your day job”, not because your not good enough to be a full time musician, but because you won’t be able to pay rent and food and bills with illegal downloads.