Authors: Brad Haugen, Hal Kirkland & Masa Kawamura (@BBHNewYork)
Asher Roth is an artist who is uniquely in touch with his fans. After all, his brand was brilliantly built on the back of the web community Ning. This platform forged bonds and fostered conversations between Asher’s team and their fans. Since the end of his first tour, everyone was simply waiting for what he would do next.
So while this project arrived at an extremely busy time at BBH New York, the opportunity to work directly with an artist who encouraged creative freedom, and to experiment both conceptually and with new technologies, was super exciting; a luxury not often afforded within every advertising brief.
Luckily Asher, an incredibly web-savvy and prolific blogger knew what he wanted from the start.
“I want my website to really show my fans who I am. I want them to realize that I am just like any of them, and that I’m human. It has to engage them on that level.”
It didn’t take long before the idea for the site began to evolve. Of course, after some initial concepts were discussed, we had to make sure what we were suggesting was even possible, hence partnering with the geniuses at AID-DCC in Japan, a production company renown for pioneering the introduction of augmented reality into Flash.
The way the site works is simple; an illustration of the website is printed on a card around the size of a credit card. Whenever a photo is taken of the card by Asher or one of his buddies and uploaded, that photo instantly becomes the top-page of asherrothmusic.com. Meaning Asher can literally carry his website in his wallet and fans can follow him wherever he goes.
When fans visit the site, the first thing they see will be the latest updated picture, which could be anywhere from Asher holding the card on stage at a performance, to Asher watching TV with his buddies. Each image is dated and labeled, so fans can make a connection with the context in which the photos was taken.
Using FLARToolKit, the program tracks the design and shape of the card and then literally launches the site’s interface from its surface. Each graphic element then matches the exact color of the card therefore enhancing this illusion and giving the site a visually organic quality that matches Asher’s style.
The next step for the site is to connect with the fans even more and to get them to submit their own photos. The next album release will have the card featured on the cover. In this way, fans can become a part Asher’s site as well and help to build the already pretty crazy library of photos.
The platform is also totally geared to maintain engagement. Several sponsorship and competition strategies will be implemented over the course of the year, each providing both fans and sponsors a reason to keep coming back.
BBH-ers have worked on music projects before, not least for MySpace (see: http://j.mp/7nFiYF). But this project taught us many things about the music industry. While it’s a creative industry, for the most part, music labels tend to be a little old-fashioned and somewhat formulaic when it comes to promoting their artists. Even though an artist may be promoted via many channels and social networking platforms, sometimes the user experience can come across as a bit of a box-ticking exercise i.e. must have Facebook page, MySpace, blog, etc, instead of thinking an original way that the artist can legitimately connect with their fans.
With Asher, we were lucky to have an artist who is also a creative thinker and is willing to take a leap of faith in order to keep his brand authentic, especially since the technicalities of the concept were difficult to articulate in the beginning. On complex projects like this it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia, rather than merely concentrating on the bigger picture. Asher really gave us some breathing room, and the project benefited greatly as a result.
Asher has really opened a window so that he could share his day-to-day life and experiences with his fans. It’s a direction that many others in the music industry could learn from. Of course, it helps a great deal if the sentiment is as sincere as his.
Overall, the site is far better represented by exploring it for yourself, in which case we hope you do.
It would be great to hear any feedback as it is in a constant state of development.
But before we go we’d just like to put a big thanks out there to everyone that made it possible.
Creative Directors: Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland
Art Directors: Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland
Technical Director: Tomohiko Koyama (Saqoosha)
Designers: Yuri Morimoto, Masayuki Nishimura
Business Director: Brad Haugen
Account Director: Lindsay Kopec
Content Director: David Wilsher
Project Manager: Yoko Yamazaki
Flash Developer: Tomohiko Koyama (Saqoosha), Kenji Mori
Programmer: Masaru Kinoshita, Tomohiko Koyama (Saqoosha)
Illustration: Yuri Morimoto, Yumi Yamada
Music: Asher Roth
Production: AID-DCC, Katamari