OBEY THE GIANT

By now, you have all already parsed through and read about the hooplah surrounding the graffiti-style guerrilla marketing stencils put out there (overzealously) by Sony’s PlayStation Portable, or PSP. In cities like San Francisco, New York, Miami and Chicago, the company paid building owners to spray-paint and stencil intriguing “street art” touting the PSP in order to reach the uber-cool and urban kids.

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You have already heard, I presume, that the campaign is bombing badly. Kids hate it. They think its total corporate bullshit. By co-opting street art, Sony has just alienated the very kids they want to attract…the so-called “urban nomads” that have no time, patience or desire to watch a 30-second commercial.

This is all old news. What passes as guerrilla marketing is nothing more than “terrorist marketing” instead.

But in reading about the campaign, I was struck by a quote from street artist Shepard Fairey. This is the guy who concocted the Obey the Giant street art phenomenon. I’m sure you all have seen the stencil of Andre the Giant (the late great wrestler) and the word “obey” beneath him.

Obey was a cultural phenomenon, and put Fairey on the map…all the way to a high-paying consultancy and design gig for big-time marketers trying to reach the youth through street art and guerrilla executions.

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Here’s what he says in one article, and in these words lie the kernels of inspiration for all guerrilla marketing campaigns to come:

“Corporations are much better off being very open and being proud enough to say ‘We think this is a cool enough product to stand up under hipsters’ scrutiny, we don’t have to try and trick you.’ If it’s not cool enough for that, they need to rethink the product itself.”

‘Nuff said.

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