10 words of wisdom from Wallabies coach Robbie Deans

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to listen to Wallabies coach Robbie Deans speak about leadership and his approach to coaching. Being a massive Wallabies fan, it was a real honour to listen to Robbie speak, he landed some real pearls of wisdom relevant beyond the sporting context.

Here are to quotes I took away

  1. “Teams need to stand for something beyond a win or a loss”
  2. “I want to create a leadership of many culture where everyone is prepared to lead”
  3. “I work within a KASH philosophy ( Knowledge, Attitude, Skills ,Habits) – I value  Attitude and Habits above all”
  4. “My coaching is about focusing on what’s important right now’
  5. “Any decision is a good decision…no decision is a bad decision”
  6. “At the start of the season I get the players to agree on a collective purpose..then I get them to own it and commit to it”
  7. “I rate toughness over talent..at this level everyone has talent”
  8. “The invisible factors are defining in a team game”
  9. ‘At half time, silence is powerful, wait till they’re ready to listen”
  10. ‘The All Blacks point of difference is the EXPECTATION they place on themselves..that defines their performance”

I am ever the optimist, but we’re in good hands with Robbie, and I’m thinking that we’ll win the 2011 Rugby World Cup in NZ. Fingers crossed.

Influencer Interview #7 The word on Nordic Youth according to Em Wahlstrom

Youth expert Emelie Wahlstrom from MTV Brand Solutions on Stockholm

I haven’t done an Influencer Interview in a while so I thought I’d touch base with

Emelie Wahlström, a youth marketing expert from MTV’s Nordic ad agency, Brand Solutions.  She’s got some really interesting perspectives on what makes Nordic youth tick and the differences between the countries youth.

What are the main tribal differences between Nordic youth from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden?

There’s some general differences that apart us.. To start with, Fins love huge VIP-tags, to drink in their trillion saunas and to head bang their long hair.

Danes wants to go full retard – travel to Roskilde festival and get piss drunk, naked.

Swedes aim for stars and success, wanting to move to New York, are big followers of the jante law, maintains traditions such as crayfish parties and candy only on Saturdays.

Laziest of us four, is the Norwegians, who relies fully on their oil and the money that comes from it (yes, you can read my jealousness between the lines). Working 5 hours/day and still piss rich, moving to Sweden for the “pulse”. The only country in the Nordics not part of the European Union.

What are the main youth subcultures emerging at the moment? Similar or different from the rest of Europe/Western countries?

The love of brands and what role they play in their lives is quite interesting to me… Europeans are slightly less brand focused than US youth. “Self-made” is huge in the Nordics even though they expect brands to enhance their lives and play a pivotal role for exceeding their possibilities. The huge difference is probably not between the US and Europe though, but among Asian youth who really believe that they depend on brands for succeeding.


Friends before family is a huge thing, especially in Denmark and Sweden, I believe that’s going to grow even bigger.


I guess this is a common thing; but young people ARE the media, and they are well aware of it. This has become really clear in regards to the blogosphere which is huge in Sweden and Norway. The sales results that can be measured after co-operations between brands and bloggers is huge. You would think that the social broadcasters have less impact than your closest friends (according Nielsen US research) but I beg to differ.


How would you describe Nordic Youth in a word? Explain

Connected. Simply constantly online, being offline causes anxiety.

Who are the main  ‘influencers’on  Nordic youth – celebrities, parents, others?

The young ones who has succeeded. Nordic youths want to be high achievers, and they are a pretty self taught generation. Today, they are more concerned about having a good career than they are about being popular and having sex… Today, knowledge is cool, and the ones who succeeds and earns a lot of money gain not only huge respect, but inspires a lot. Examples; Robyn, Jon Olsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Søren Kongsgaard and many more. And as I mentioned above, friends is definitely the new family.


What are the big issues affecting young people in the region?

Mainly, I’d say it’s the stress for success.


It’s finding out what you want to do, earn big money. And, finding the fast lane for it. The economic recession of course affected youth last year, but it seems like hope is back on track in the Nordics. Especially compared to Germany, where there’s a total of 20% unemployment, and only 5% of German youths have high hopes for the future. Still, the new big thing for young Swedes and Danes is to move to Berlin.. eager to be unemployed??


Which brands are young people most interested in engaging with and why?

The brands who are relevant and useful to them and who offer conversational capital. Let me give you Nike as an example, who we’ve created an MTV Brand Solutions campaign for this autumn. We were asked to reset Nike Running in the minds of young ppl, and they wanted to join the conversation. The idea was built on the subway system in Stockholm – which has a lot of emotional traction among the target group as it defines who you are. Are you red? Green? Blue? Each section of the city had a color and an ambassador who engaged youths to join, and take over the streets. Concept: Run anywhere in the world, each kilometer is one credit. Color your blocks or steal the streets of your rival. The online application was synced with Facebook, meaning that you in real-time shared not only your distance and pace, but which blocks you colored. Each post was therefore “tailor-made” by the user and became “new news”. This enabled a lot of buzz and a huge engagement since you became a part of something bigger – with the ability to make a change for your team.


Is the super high levels of digital connectivity amongst Nordic youth affecting their interpersonal ‘face to face’ skills at all?

Oh yes. And definitely when it comes to interaction with companies. I’ve experienced examples of this, where only 1 out of 2000 youths would prefer to be contacted via telephone instead of e-mail. So not only “face to face”, but their whole personal sphere. They want to take the control. This also makes it easier for youths to speak about difficult things with friends, being hid behind a screen. I believe that that has implication about their relations and their whole social skills.

What do brands need to know about Nordic youth when they’re looking to start a conversation with this audience?

They want to take part.

You only have one chance, so embrace it! Make it relevant, useful and allow them to participate. Keep in mind that success comes when your communication connects them with each other, not just with your brand.


Influencer Interview: Amanda Mooney talks Youth, Brand Engagement & Social media


Snr Social Media Planner Amanda Mooney

I haven’t done an Influencer Interview in a while so I thought I’d touch base with a great social media planner who I follower on Twitter – Amanda Mooney from Edelman Digital in Chicago. She’s got some amazing insight into how young people today are interacting with brands and social technology. Here are 5 key thoughts I’ve pulled out of the interview:

1. Kids ‘master media’ in under 4yrs so brands will have to continue to evolve their media/creative strategies

2. Youth today are both Entreprenuerial and Defiant.

3. Brands which fuel youth passion points invariably win

4. Forget campaigns, create sustainable means of engagement by earning the right to be in the conversation

5. Help young people belong and be significant (echoing the words of Graham Brown from Mobile Youth).

You can follow amanda on Twitter or check out her blog

How would you describe American youth in a sentence or word right now?
Can I have two? We’re not waiting for anyone’s approval at the moment. There’s a new sense of entrepreneurism and a sense of defiance that’s touching otherwise “ordinary” young people with nothing more than a bit of talent or ideas about the world and a good Wi-Fi connection.
How do you think social media platforms have changed the way brands ‘engage’ with today’s youth? Any learnings from your experience?
There’s an entire generation growing up now that never has to call your 1-800 number for customer care or to file a complaint. It’s never been so easy for us to take action if we have an issue or a question that needs to be addressed. According to a Kaiser Foundation report, children are also now growing up spending more time creating and consuming media per day than they’re spending in school: 7.5 hours. They’re spending more time than most marketers spend in their full time jobs. Consider the adage that it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft and kids can “master” media and communications in under four years. Brands have to realize how smart we are about media and their messages.
Which youth brands are ‘getting it right’ when it comes to engaging youth and why? Any brands that really are struggling?
I’m only 24 and very much still starting out in the industry but in my opinion, the brands that are really struggling at the moment are investing millions in flash and trash campaigns and spending a huge amount of effort to buy up “impressions” rather than changing their businesses at the core to address what’s happening in our world and how we’d like to engage with brands moving forward. It’s not enough to simply throw up the image of a celebrity next to your product and start asking for our last few bucks when rent’s due or pushing for our last bits of attention. At a time when unemployment for 18-29 year olds in the US is currently around 37%, the highest in three decades for our age group, you have to consider that the cost of one banner campaign on a major network could help a young person start their business, fund their entire education, provide a service that fuels a cause they’re passionate about. I can’t believe what’s being wasted on purely promotional copy, taglines, creative, product shots, paid celebrity tweets. Pay those celebrities to be a sounding board for your community and provide perspective and access! I know what it’s like to come from a family that lives paycheck to paycheck, what it’s like to pay for my own education and be in my first few years out of school while the economy’s still in a giant mess and I’ll say that one of the things I love most about our industry is the possibility of giant global brands using the vast resources at their disposal to help fuel the passions or needs of their customers.
Graham Brown from Mobile Youth has a great quote that’s stuck with me. He says, and I believe, we want very simply for brands to play two roles before we’ll be open to hearing your marketing message… “Help us belong and help us feel significant.”
Want to “get it right”? Take a second and check out the projects on Kickstarter.com and think about how you can partner with these brilliant young creatives to support their projects and establish a partnership that fuels your own brand as well. Get in touch with Amanda Rose (@amanda on Twitter) and partner up with Twestival, have a chat with Abby Falik of Global Citizen Year or Charles Best of DonorsChoose or check out CauseCast and SocialVibe to see how your marketing efforts can help us give back to the causes we care about. Instead of interrupting our playlists on MySpace, use media on the homepage of MySpace Music to help promote fresh, young bands in the community. Check out Jane McGonigal’s talk at TED on the possibility of leveraging our favorite outlets for play to reinforce a deep sense of citizenship and figure out how your own products can serve a greater good in our lives. Have a chat with all of the great people like @richardatdell who make it possible for us to get personalized service, when we need it, on our own terms and figure out how you can put this into practice in your own organization.
Are you seeing any new youth subcultures or tribes emerging which marketers should pay attention to?
I was particularly taken by two bits of information recently. The average age of a first-time mom in the US is now 25-years-old and according to Census projections, the “traditional American family,” married with children, is now the minority. You have a generation of new moms who grew up digital,  are in their first years out as young adults,  who may or may not have the support of a traditional household structure. They also increasingly live further away from their parents as well. For many of them, their online community is a vital space to find information and support.
I’m also reading everything I possibly can about youth in China as well. At 500 million strong by 2015, I wouldn’t call them a subculture by any means, but marketers should invest considerable time and energy to understand the subcultures that exist within the youth population in China. It’s an unprecedented time of change, connection and youth empowerment. I particularly love NeochaEDGE for a daily perspective on brilliant young creatives in China.
What have you learnt about ‘global youth culture’ in your travels/experiences? Is there even such a thing as global youth culture?
First, I’ll say that most of my experience to date has been largely observational online and has come from research as well but I’m desperately interested in moving overseas to experience and study youth culture in other parts of the world.
Overall, I think that we’re all excited by the sense that we have a collective power and the possibility of connection on a global scale, but it would be a mistake to lump us all together. For perspective on the sheer size of global youth, consider that, according to the CIA World Factbook, the average age of the world’s population is 29. Youth engagement can certainly ladder up to a point of global connection in a powerful way but make no mistake, your efforts have to find local relevancy.
3 tips for connecting with youth?
1.       Listen to us and figure out how you can earn the right to fit into our lives before you spend hours in a boardroom thinking about how you can push a message or product to us. Look at all of the resources in your network- your connections, your media, your power of voice, the access you may have to partners… and find a way to make them work for us, not just your own marketing objectives.
2.       Get out of a campaign mindset and budgeting structure and create sustainable means of engaging us. Certainly there can be key periods that spike engagement but you can’t just float in and out of our lives whenever it’s convenient.
3.       To reiterate Graham Brown’s point, “Help us belong and help us feel significant.”
What’s the most important piece of advice you give clients you work with when they come to you looking to use social media platforms as part of their marketing mix?
Social media can’t just be part of your marketing mix. It will and very much should, shift your organization at its core. R&D, customer service, CSR… what’s happening in the space is fundamentally changing our lives as consumers and it will fundamentally change your business as well. 
What do brands need to know about you and your friends in terms of wanting to have a conversation with you?
Don’t talk down to us. Don’t assume that you immediately have the right to be included in our conversation. You have to earn that. Don’t, don’t assume that you naturally *get* us. There’s nothing worse than that. Be honest. Expect us to respectfully disagree or point out when something’s not right. Understand that pushback from us isn’t definitive, necessarily negative or final. It’s a dare.. a dare to listen to what we’re telling you, good or bad, and honestly use it to make your brand better.
Also, I love this tweet from @leeclowsbeard. “Most people don’t have enough time to interact with their kids, let alone your brand. Respect that.” The same goes for us.
Your favorite blogs or brands and why?
Ahhh that’s a long list. But here are a few that I love because the writers are brilliant and I can always trust these sites for regular inspiration in my work:
·         PSFK
·         Three Billion
·         AfriGadget
·         Ruby Pseudo
·         Enovate
·         Mobile Youth
·         Kitsune Noir
·         NeochaEDGE
·         Design Mind
·         Jonathan Harris’ Today
·         The Selby
·         Wooster Collective
·         Alain de Botton on Twitter
·         Future Perfect
·         Dazed Digital

Influencer Interview #7: The world of brands and music according to Emily

Got a chance to interview a real music expert and pop culture maven in Emily Copeland – we met the other week and she gave me some great insight into the world of music and some great examples of what brands are doing right to connect with young people (and how they’re fucking up too) in the brand saturated space that is music.  Em  works at MCN and also hosts a music program on FBI radio. Check out her blog here.  She’s got amazingly deep insight into youth culture and how brands and ‘playing’ in the music space.

Em Copeland from OMGwithemily.com   youth music guru

Em Copeland from OMGwithemily.com youth music guru

Here’s here perspective on brands and music, music tribes and what’s coming up this Summer.

Which brands are doing well to leverage music? Maybe a few different examples

I love seeing brands do something a bit different in music. The ideas of giving away tickets to have an ‘ultimate festival experience’, running an unsigned band competition, and setting up your own branded music event have been done to death. More importantly, there are brands that now ‘own’ these spaces (Festivals – Smirnoff; Unsigned Bands – Tooheys Extra Dry; Branded Music Events – Bacardi) , so it is incredibly difficult for anyone new to try to play in these areas, or to do it better than those existing brands.

 Ted Baker leveraged music well this year, with the creation of the ‘Gig Race’ to promote a new clothing range. Entrants had two weeks to attend as many gigs as humanly possible, whilst blogging and twittering about their experience as they went. Ted Baker used something their consumers were already doing (going to gigs, blogging and twittering) to promote their brand. And more importantly, they found a way to credibly link their brand with music – by having consumers do it for them! Every tweet and blog post that went out in relation to the competition mentioned music and Ted Baker – and came direct from the target demographic. (FYI – the winner was a 29 year old guy from Kent, who went to 27 gigs in 14 days. He now holds the Guinness World Record for most concerts attended!)

 Are there any ‘must do’s’ when considering using a music marketing strategy to engage youth?

There are two major ‘must do’s’ that I would recommend every brand look at before trying to engage youth through music:


You need to do something that makes sense to your audience, in relation to your brand. Just simply deciding that you want to be ‘aligned with music’ isn’t enough. Nike are a great example of a brand that does this well. Nike are all about sport – so rather than trying to put on a gig, or use a band in their advertising, in mid-2008 they teamed up with A-Trak to create a mix to help people “Keep on Running’ – which adds a music element to their sporting brand. A few months back they also helped De La Soul to release their first new album in five years – which was designed to play as a workout soundtrack, and was produced by Flosstradamus. Nike found sneaker wearing musicians, who had massive credibility, and helped them to do their thing (release music), while still retaining their core brand focus (helping people to exercise).


Don’t just look for trends within your target demographic and try to copy them (like Taco Bell did in the US, when they tried to take an ironic look at white boy hip hop with their ‘Roosevelts’ campaign .  Look to do something unique, or look to support an artist or sound that is emerging (like BMW have done with The Presets and Empire of the Sun http://www.omgwithemily.com/2009/05/bmw-parters-with-empire-of-sun.html). The support of an emerging artist will almost always be looked upon favourably, as everyone knows that these independent artists can’t pay the rent with just hipster cred!

 Youth music tribes.. what tribes are popular at the moment?

Back in 2004, the British Council compiled a document that identified 9 youth ‘tribes’ – Townies, Goths, Nu-metallers, Soulstrels, Indie Kids, Pop Princesses, Clubbers, Grungers and Skaters. The interesting thing about this study was that every tribe was partly identified by a particular musical artist, or a genre of music they were all into.

Music is incredibly important to young people, primarily because it is something they all use to create their own identity. Music also helps define their other choices in life – from who they hang out with, to the clothing they wear, the bars they go to, the media they consume, and even the alcohol they drink.

In Australia, we have seen a rise in the popularity of Indie Kids over the past few years – and the music at festivals has reflected this. There has been a move away from techno and hard house, toward more indie electro sounds at major festivals. Even more traditional ‘rock’ festivals have seen an increased number of indie bands and indie electro acts in the lineup.

You will also find multiple sub-tribes within each tribe. The 9 youth tribes defined in the UK are massive generalisations. If you are looking at identifying youth by the music they listen to, then everyone who listens to electronic music would be a ‘Clubber’. However, when you drill down into the electronic music genres, you get everything from Disco, to House, Jungle, Trance, Nu Rave, and Garage. Then, if you look into sub-genres, you find styles such as Baltimore Club, Industrial Rock, Fidget House, Glitch and 8 bit. It will probably be hard for you to find huge similarities in lifestyle, fashion and speech between someone who passionate about Juke (similar to Booty House – think Kid Sister), compared to someone who is crazy about Psytrance (think something from Infected Mushroom) – even though both styles are in essence ‘electronic’.

 What do you feel will be the bands/artists which will gain traction with Aussie youth this summer?

There is a huge amount of female electro-pop currently hitting the mainstream. From the horrible (Lady Gaga) to the more interesting acts including La Roux, Little Boots, (both of whom we just saw performing around the country as part of Parklife) Ladyhawke and Bat for Lashes. I’m sure these sounds will continue across summer, particularly with Ladyhawke having just received five nominations in the 2009 ARIAs.

There are a few tools that I use to look at current trends in sounds and artists. One is Shazam (see Shazam’s picks for 2009 here: http://www.omgwithemily.com/2009/01/whats-that-remix.html), another is Hype Machine’s ‘popular’ feed. I also RSS feeds from around 150 different music blogs, of all different genres, and from right around the world – and keep an eye on these for hot tracks, and musical trends. Young Aussies are also getting better at supporting local talent, and we are seeing huge support for local artists in both the commercial and indie scenes.

Influencer Interview with an arbiter of cool: Meet Erica

Erica partying at Playground Weekender

Erica partying at Playground Weekender

I’m lucky enough to work with a super cool chick called Erica who totally has her finger on the pulse when it comes to youth culture, especially in the music space. We’re collaborating on some cool projects and I wanted to get her viewpoint on one part of youth culture I’m weak on, the world of music. Love your work E.

What do you think are the most popular/interesting youth ‘tribes’ at the moment? What’s emerging?

The ENTREPRENEURS – I’m amazed at how many 20 something’s and younger are starting their own businesses and non for profit projects in really niche areas. They have the eye for the angle and the drive to make it happen. They’re leaders in their peer group and it’s not uncool to be successful

The ALTERNATIVES – tattoos are back and have been in for a while. Think full sleeved tattoos and facial piercings. Interestingly they are actually very ‘normal’ and mainstream. Even the beautiful glam girls are getting in on this scene, thanks to Kat Von D and celebs like Megan Fox.

 The DRESS UP- friends that fancy dress at any given opportunity. The spontaneous fancy dress trend has been emerging for the last few years and continues to grow. You’ve seen them at festivals, at the beach, at mates parties. It’s all about having a laugh and becoming someone else for the night. (i’ll admit my group falls into this category)

What’s the most important thing for a brand to think about/understand when looking to engage with youth?

You need to have a reason to belong and a right to be talking with them.  You need to understand exactly what tribe you’re talking to and the language they speak. If you get it wrong you’re immediately on the outer. It’s all about gaining credibility over time and once you’ve got it to keep following through

Ask yourself what you offer them, what’s your awesome brand experience that they can take away with them and preferably share with their mates….. Some things haven’t changed over the years – now more than ever kids love free shit.

What’s the key formula for putting on an amazing youth event/experience in the music space?

Younger consumers actually embrace brands presence at music festivals and other events, they’re savvy enough to know that hosting big events costs money. What upsets them is when a brand either (a) doesn’t try to engage specific to their environment at all (eg just sticking up  a tent with some promo staff in it) or (b) tries to be too ‘down with the kids’ and ends up getting cast as a try hard.

 There are lots of genres of music popular with youth: 80’s, hip hop, indie, folksy, electro, reggae….what’s going to be big this upcoming summer do you think?

80’s is going to be huge, huger than it already has been with the electro phase that’s been around for a few years . We’re already seeing it with  the success of La Roux – who’ve been upgraded from the Gaelic to the Enmore with fairly limited push from their record company. It’s permeated into fashion, i noticed that at the start of this year the chambray shirt and Degrassi Junior High wardrobe was back….

Aussie Hip Hop continues to go from strength to strength. I was at Splendour this year and the Hill Top Hoods drew the biggest crowds of the festival.

 Do teens/20 somethings belong to many different music tribes at once, or are they fixated on one genre typically?

You’re still definitely more ‘something’ than ‘something else’. Like an indie with an emo slant. Or a Rock chick who likes a side of hip hop and a dash of pop.

It’s all about being a chameleon with musical taste.

With the ipod playlist came the freedom to have all sorts of music genres at your fingers tips- and to proudly share them with the world  🙂

5 thoughts from interview with Tim Cahill

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Cahill this week for a campaign I’m cooking up, gonna be killer in 2010. In my investigation I pulled out some interesting thoughts:

1. Tims Mantra: “He who has the desire to win will always win, even when he loses”

I found this really inspiring, Tim spoke about (in a non wanky way) that despite losing to Italy in the World Cup, he felt he had already won just by getting to the World Cup, scoring the goal against Japan in the 1st game and overcoming adversity/injury just to get there.


Tim was told as a kid playing in Sydneys western suburbs that he was too frail and not strong enough to follow his dream as a pro soccer player. He dedicated his whole training regime to becoming ‘stronger’ which he feels makes him a strong player on the field mentally, despite the fact he’s relatively small.


His magic formula is quite simple, he surrounds himself my his family which extend to his close mates who are always HONEST with him and he totally dedicates his life to training, prehab, rehab, eating right, living right…no BBQ’s during season, a  complete focus and dedication to getting better every year.


Tim spends alot of time doing visualisation exercises where he pictures himself scoring goals, getting up for the header, powering the scissor kick. He said that if he hasn’t scored in a few games, he goes back to watch dvd’s of himself scoring so he ‘recaptures the feeling’.


Withough wanting sympathy, Tim spoke about the hardships of coming from a poorer family and making it in the English Premier League. He doesn’t take anything for granted and will never ever say no to an autograph or photo as he wants to be real and accessible to those who support him. Was really nice to see a totally grounded athlete who’d prime motivation is to be a great role model for young Australian footballers, hence his 11 hour training camp with kids in Sydney last Sunday.

Me and Timmy Cahill

Interviewed Australian footballing legend, Tim Cahill yesterday as part of a campaign I’m working on. Went one on one with the pocket dynamo for an hour talking about his dreams, disappointments, inspiring Aussie kids to play football, what makes him great..even who he hangs out with in the Premier League. What an amazing, down to earth guy. Gonna pull some highlights of the interview together later this week. With Timmy leading the way, we’re gonna kill it at the World Cup in South Africa next year.

Me and Timmy Cahill

Me and Timmy Cahill

Youth Influencer Interview No.4: Andy Rigby Music Festival Promoter guru

Change of pace for my youth influencer interview. One area of youth culture I’m pretty clueless about is the music space..bad i know. Music festival culture has exploded in Australia the past 10 years and I was lucky enough to chat with Andy Rigby, a Pom who’s been one of the pioneers in music festivals in Australia and was involved with  ‘Vibes’ in ’96 (when i was in year 12)… Here’s his perspective on the Australian music festival scene and youth culture

Describe yourself in 140 words or less

An Englishman who moved to Australia over ten years ago and fell in love with the place. Was involved with Vibes on A Summers Day from 1996, started Good Vibrations Festival in 2004 and then in 2005 started Playground Music which now promotes the Playground Weekender, a Tottenham Hotspurs fan who likes to box in his spare time and enjoys the occasional beer!

Why are music festivals so important to youth?

It’s basically the perfect day out with their mates. Music, dancing, dressing up, a few drinks. And they get to be with thousands of people in their age bracket. Going to a music festival also brings kudos to the individual within their peer group, gives them something to look forward to and plan and then something to chat about afterwards. One day is almost not enough time to pack it all in, that’s why the 2 or 3 day festival has begun to spring up, and the reason why we’re pushing ours to a massive four days next year!

Describe Australian youth culture in a word or two?

Splintered personas – it’s not about belonging to one particular tribe of music these days, it’s all about picking and choosing which songs and bands you identify with. Unlike me, back in the day i was a Ska boy, rocking out to The Madness.

What’s the best music festival you’ve put on and why?

Last year’s Playground Weekender of course! We were really happy with the line up , old school Tom Middleton and Primal Scream to the crowd favourite The Streets and new kids on the block Crystal Castle and Cold War Kids. The Pool Bar was very popular and the punters got right behind fancy dress Saturday night.  A fun three days of camping, swimming and dancing

…If only it hadn’t been so bloody hot (freak heat wave of 45+ degrees out at Wiseman’s Ferry)

Which bands do you think are having the biggest influence on the Australian music scene right now? Why?

Lily Allen, MGMT – both are going great guns here in Aus. They are offering something different, fun and really listenable. Lily’s cheeky lyrics and ska/pop blend are so on trend, and MGMT have put a new spin on the electro movement that we’ve seen over the last few years. Plus the biggest impact both these artists have had is that they’ve both become successful due to the massive word of mouth their fans generated online.

What are the key elements of a successful event in your eyes?

Understanding your target market – and knowing you can’t be everything to everyone and offering something different to your competition.

Making the experience more than just the music but keeping your line up fresh and appealing.

And keeping those bar and toilet queues as short as possible!

How different is the Australian music festival scene in comparison to the UK/Europe?

The Aussie music scene is fast catching up with the UK’s – there have been so many new festivals entering our market in the last few years, ours included. I would say there’s definitely less mud at Aussie festivals perhaps with Good Vibrations Sydney being the exception this year.  The concept of camping overnight at a festival is really only beginning to take off here in New South Wales whilst in the UK this is the norm.  Hopefully this changes as more of the Australian public deserve to experience a proper festival which has to be more than one day. The police presence is much higher here which I’m not entirely sure is good news in the long run and I’m sure will cause more harm than good.

Is there such thing as a global festival culture?

Each festival has its own unique style – Big Chill (my favourite) is completely different to Glastonbury, here in Oz the BDO has its own place in the world vs a Parklife or a Peats Ridge. All the festivals that survive have generally done so as a result of being different from their competition which encourages people to travel from all over the world to different events hence creating a bit of a global culture.

The best way to promote a festival is…..

Still good old fashioned word of mouth, the only difference being the vehicle of communication has changed from purely hand to hand flyering, poll posters and utilising promoters to now heavily relying on the internet. Myspace and forums like inthemix are vital to getting our message out there. The fans are our biggest asset in spreading the word, we’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome fan reviews posted which have really helped to get Playground Weekender to be a success after only 3 years in the game

What are you guys doing next?

We’re beginning to pull the line up together for Playground Weekender 2010. Our first major act is this close to being booked- very exciting.

Why Red Bull is the best youth brand…by Q..Red Bull devotee

It’s not often you meet someone who lives and breathes a brand. James Quinlan ‘Q’ is that person. He is the posterboy of the Red Bull tribe, the brand is his life. not in a geeky way, in a very cool way. I asked him to write a piece for me on why he loves Red Bull and how they get youth marketing

Red Bull sells a liiiiifestyle…by QI’m writing this rather late at night. I’m quite awake after drinking a can of what’s been called everything from “liquid speed” to “Viagra in a can”. It’s a good thing as I’m watching the F1 from Spain, supporting my team Red Bull Racing (and keeping an eye on Scuderia Toro Rosso). I’m wearing a Red Bull t-shirt and belt. I’m also keeping an eye on the San Diego leg of the Red Bull Air Race via the Internet and watched some of last year’s series earlier today on Fuel TV. Today’s paper was full of news about the Red Bull Cliff Diving Event in La Rochelle. The current copy of The Red Bulletin magazine sits on the table. Next to my Red Bull ice bucket.

I didn’t even used to like the taste of Red Bull – so how did I get here?

It’s because while V may “get things started” (as the ads reliably inform me, but only when they’re on air) Red Bull does the entire job from go to whoa (or maybe that’s whoooooaa!). Most brands spend loads of time looking for something in their product that they can sell to us. Sugar free. Less CO2. 24 hour protection. All very interesting, but rarely unique (and even if they are, easily replicated). The reasons why I’m a Red Bull devotee has buggerall to do with the product and everything to do with something that’s extremely hard to copy: the brand. Here’s five reasons why:

1. They sell lots of swag.

I’m constantly amazed by companies that stick to selling their products and nothing else. You can’t bring a car into your living room. Or take it with you on the train. Or to a meeting room at work. You can bring/wear a piece of merchandise everywhere you go. Clients look to their advertising agencies for communications, not frozen water receptacle device producers – but the Red Bull ice bucket that sits on my desk has done loads more to promote Red Bull to me and those around me than 99% of the TV commercials that we see because it doesn’t just make the brand famous, it’s infiltrated my life, every single day of the year (and I even paid for it). Note to marketers – Red Bull even manages to make money out of its swag – how’s that for “measurable communications”?

 2. They‘re consistent.

Blindingly so. Which is quite odd when you consider that the world of Red Bull involves everything from BASE jumpers to F1 to classic aircraft to hip-hop music to visual artists. All of these activities need energy – for both the body and mind. Forget making sure that all the artwork looks like it came from the same place and instead remember what you’re actually about.

 3. They’re not screwed when the media budget runs out.

Red Bull buys media last. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one of their ads on TV and certainly more than a year since I’ve seen any outdoor advertising for them (and even that was used to promote one of their events). Red Bull does the complete reverse of what anyone else does and create demand before they advertise. Product sampling. Cooler fridges in bars. Events. Only when the market begins to mature – and the brand is welcome – do they do “advertising”.

 4. They’re cool

When was the last time anyone proudly ordered a Vodka and Mother at their local bar? Probably around the same time anyone who drank a Mother actually paid for it.

5. They involve us.

They don’t interrupt us, infact we seek them out. And I’m not talking about any of that “you make the ad and we’ll give you a cold $20K” malarkey either. All that that rubbish does is to put really crappy work infront of a large audience (at great cost) – making a brand seem really downmarket. Last year a very large chunk of Sydney went to Red Bull Flugtag. And loads of people went to the Red Bull Air Race in Perth. The other month I went to the No Comply exhibition at Red Bull Australia’s HQ. And what an HQ. It got me thinking about the last time that Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble or Cadbury-Schweppes hosted something at their office for the people who buy their product was…never.

 Is this all working? In a world where the bottom line is, well, the bottom line they’re charging loads (compare their price to an icy cold can of Coke next time you’re instore) and selling even more, something they can do because instead of focusing on selling a product, they sell an entire liiifstyle.


Q in the Red Bull F1 garage  - Australian Grand Prix '09

Q in the Red Bull F1 garage - Australian Grand Prix '09

Youth Influencer Interview – Dion Appel CEO of Lifelounge Group

This is probably the most insightful interview I’ve been able to get from an absolute influencer in youth culture in Australia. Dion Appel lives and breathes youth culture. He has to. He’s the CEO, Co-founder of  Lifelounge Group

Dion Appel, CEO Lifelounge.com

Dion Appel, CEO Lifelounge.com

, Australia’s leading digital resource on youth culture – fashion, music, sports..you name it, they cover it. He also runs Lifelounge Urban Market Research (UMR), Australia’s biggest youth market research panel. I was lucky enough to get some perspective on what brands need to do to get ‘cultural infusion’ ( new buzz word 🙂

Tells us a little about why you set up Lifelounge Group  and its role for Aussie youth?

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Having said that James Diver and I were playing poker at a casino in Las Vegas.

The idea was to combine our passions and expertise to create a unique business proposition for brands: offer an understanding of and access to the youth market in a credible and relevant way. My background was in business; managing and marketing action sports athletes. James and his business partner Luke Lucas were professional athletes and magazine publishers. Together we identified a market opportunity to apply our creative and commercial expertise and contacts to position brands relevantly amongst the youth, young adult and lifestyle markets.

What are the 3 biggest trends that you think are influencing Aussie youth at the moment?‘Boycotting the bogan’ – events once only popular amongst those in the know have now reached the mainstream. This may be lining the back pockets of event producers but we have reached saturation point. The mainstream doesn’t hold the same core values to those who made events important destinations in the first instance. 


There is a move towards going underground, creating unique party experiences that leverage the values festivals were once built on.

‘Flesh messaging’ – all forms of digital communications are no longer new, they are mass. There is a lack of control over how and who we communicate with. Technology should be treated as an enabler, it shouldn’t dictate how communication is conducted.

There is a growing preference for face-to-face communications i.e. meaningful contact and conversation.

‘Extreme transport’ – Cycling is now a massive trend in urban cities within Australia. It has already splintered into sub-cultures with the ‘discovery’ of fixies for the road, not the track. This trend is expected to continue with the introduction of government funding for new bike tracks and communal bike sharing initiatives. Not to forget it’s good for the image, cheap to do and good for the environment win-win-win. 

In a world where labels offer little exclusivity, bikes are the new form of branding.

 How would you describe Australian youth culture in a word? Explain?CONSIDERED – Australian youth are deliberate and calculated. Don’t underestimate them.


They’re very careful about how they perceive themselves and how they want others to perceive them. It’s all part of a need and desire to express themselves and ultimately define their identity. During the defining years (18-24) they are more open for trial and new experiences and tend to be less loyal. Once they have defined their identity (25-29) they are more likely to become loyal and flaunt independence. 

Is there such a thing as ‘global youth’?Absolutely, we don’t log onto the Australia Wide Web we log onto the World Wide Web. Access to technology and travel have made borders disappear, seas seem like puddles and the ability to learn new languages a worthy inclusion on the CV.


Are there any youth subcultures which are really popular or emerging in 09?For some time we have been tracking subcultures that emerge from core lifestyle interests I.e. Music, fashion, entertainment and sport however, more recently we’re tracking subcultures that relate to emerging trends such as fixies within cycling within sport.


What do brands need to know about young Aussies?Brands spend considerable resources defining themselves, their essence, personality and image in order to connect more relevantly with desired audiences. We can draw a number of similarities in the way young adults seek to establish and define themselves.


Brands need to be real, honest and brave enough to share experiences through conversations with young adults. With a solid foundation and relationship based on shared values the sky’s the limit. Challenge the status quo and use the power media channels to connect relevantly. 

 Alot of brands these days do ‘co-creation’ – getting young people to co-create their ads/events/products? What’s your POV on this?
Young adults are dubbed the creative class because they are digital natives however, in reality they like to have everything done for them.  Having said that if brands provide the tools for creativity then young adults are more likely to respond. There are a number of case studies that support co-creation from government agencies like the Transport Accident Commission’ Make a Film Make A Difference initiative to Red Bull’s Art of the Can competition. 

Which brands do you think ‘get’ youth marketing and why? Explain

Virgin – Has a strong reputation for trading on a unique attitude with personality. Congratulations Richard Branson on finding a way to commercialise your lifestyle and make your mark on everything the brand does. Virgin’s entrepreneurial approach to business has enabled the brand to cross into varying industries and maintain a consistent tone.  

 American Apparel – Because they keep their message clear and simple. They don’t broadcast but are smart about the way they advertise enabling the market to discover and make their own minds up about the brand. My first encounter was in New York when the shop assistant told me how good my family jewels would look in a particular style of underwear; I looked up and her necklace spelt the word ‘SLUT’ 

 Lucas Paw Paw Lip Balm – This product oozes quality and makes no mistake about it. The product has effectively achieved cultural infusion particularly with females through word of mouth and very little traditional advertising.