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Archive for August, 2011

Don’t mock the Bieber


Justin Bieber – the kid with a whole legion of teenage girls behind him and an even bigger army of grownup misanthropes who hate him with a passion. Bieber makes an excellent target to bully, specially because of his elated fans. Though in a sense, his popularity is a form of democracy. Saying Bieber is a fag is just cheap and extremely easy to get away with. And as with most easy things, it’s hardly worth the effort.

It’s just downright sad.

But hey ho – here’s the truth; you’re just an uninspirational person, otherwise you wouldn’t do this – and just like those Cristiano Ronaldo cynics – you’re being jealous. It’s like bashing Comic Sans while pretending to be a graphic designer.

More importantly; just like that teacher you didn’t like at school, your hatred might stand in the way of the possibility to actually learn something. It’s what you’d call personal detachment. Same as with working with clients – you shouldn’t let your personal remarks stand in the way.

‘Why? Is there something to learn about Justin Bieber?’
Well yes – he can play four instruments – he sings and dances and he even writes his own songs. He already sold more than eight million albums worldwide and has won 57 awards.

He’s about to reach a billion hits on Google, 42 million likes on Facebook, and 21,5 million followers on Twitter (where he gains some 25,000 a day). Time magazine placed him in the most 100 influential persons alive and Bieber is the only person in the whole wide freaking world with a perfect 100 Klout score.

Not bad for an 18 year old.


He didn’t get the help of some platform like Disney or Nickelodeon – just his mom, uploading videos on YouTube. That’s cool (I’ll say it for you), because it means David can still defeat Goliath.

It’s been said before by all those inspirational speakers; persistence persistence persistence. Bieber’s success isn’t an accident which happened to him. He made it happen. Whatever you think of him, he’s talented – and as Malcom Gladwell puts it – ‘talent is nothing more than desire to learn’.


A lot of brands (in fact, most) still haven’t figured out social media for them, yet this is where Bieber thrives. Early 2009, when savvy musicians where still gobbling on MySpace and just starting to pick up Facebook. Bieber started tweeting. Actively. As Jussi-Pekka Erkkola put it; ‘social media isn’t a campaign, it’s a commitment.’ Constantly, Bieber would tell his fans when he’d be. At some radio station, music studio, whatever. But girls would start appearing to get his autograph (they’re now selling upto $150 on eBay). First, there where maybe ten, twenty girls max. Then fifty, then a hundred, then police had to shut down malls out of safety concerns.

He has an audience that hangs onto every word he tweets – and they’re desperate for his attention. Each tweet is replied by a truckload of pumped up teenyboppers. Dustin Curtis, a Twitter employee; ‘at any moment, Justin Bieber uses 3% of our infrastructure. Racks of servers are dedicated to him.’ He’s an insane internet powerhouse, and his Twitter alone accounts for 180 million page views a month.

Every time Bieber replies to a follower, their friends will know all about it. The person tweets back, tweets about his response and then continues a Twitter-tirade about how much it made their day.

There’s this example of 20-year old Helen Campbell who got Bieber to tweet about her need for an organ transplant. Bieber’s tweet stated ‘@alungstory I got the word . . . You have amazing strength. I got u. #BeAnOrganDonor.’ Trillium, an organ and tissue donation agency who normally gets about 50 registrations a day for organ donation, had 1,500 that day.

The team around Bieber have made a wonderful product, specially tailored for his audience. No, he doesn’t particularly excel in linguistic skills or originality – in fact, being a regular, modest boy may just be his biggest charm – yet he practically owns the teenage girl market in the US. Bieber, or whoever writes his music, knows exactly what they want, and delivers in timely fashion. Meanwhile, RIM announces its intention to ship the Blackberry 10 in six months. Tell me; who’s doing it right?

A few days of madness

Often, the first think people shoot at you when at ad-contest is finished is the peculiar question “Did you win?”. And whilst it is questionable whether winning is key to a competition, it sort of makes the rest look less valuable. Besides, it kinda leaves a bad taste in your mouth to say you didn’t win. On top of that, it makes us advertisers look like some prize-obsessed industry. I don’t like that part of it. Also, Stefan and I recently won a competition and suddenly there’s a lot more people talking to us, as if we suddenly mean something. We’re still the same guys.

It’s Charlie Sheen who keeps talking about this “winning”, but I’m gonna go with Luke Sullivan, who said: “Let the fun be in the chase.”

And fun we had. From Friday to Saturday we participated in the 24 hour pitch, organised by Jongehonden. Stefan and I where still thrilled about founding out we could take part, cause we only heard that the day before. The moment of stepping into that building, filled with young creatives, getting free food and free drinks. After hearing all the ‘grand tales’ from other participants about New York, London or other great places and agencies they’ve been too, I had the impeccable feeling I was still quite a novice to this, despite having invested quite some time myself as well.

The 24 hours where great. The fatigue feeling, the “shall I sleep or not” dilemma, the chats with people I didn’t know, the midnight walks, the matches of table football which I lost 2-10, the laughs people gave me about my old Toshiba laptop and of course the staring done at my computer screen, blank sheets of paper, the window and the ceiling.

After 24 hours I felt quite “attached” to our folding desk and our bemudded sofa, so I write this post with a great matter of ‘homesickness’. It’s madness when you think about it, coming up with a concept within 24 straight hours, with 23 other teams, but anything seems to be possible in this industry. Love it. And we hope to be participating again next year! 😉

Thanks Jongehonden for this awesome event and congratulations to the winners!

Some impressions:

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