November 26, 2008

Gareth Liddiard on music writing

Posted in Music tagged , , , at 10:52 pm by Andrew McMillen

Music criticism, to quote Chuck D: “You talk about it but you can’t do it.” But now that there is all this blogging shit going on critics have become like mild mannered primary school teachers trying to control their bitchy little charges. Which is funny cause nine out of ten critics are at uni. Blogging has cut the balls off music criticism. But even when critics are being cool it’s still weird. Rock’n’roll is pretty retarded and writing about it is really scraping the literary barrel. Why would you bother? Do something useful for fuck’s sake.

Ampersand Magazine asked the singer from Australia’s best band to defend or attack any one of the following topics: eugenics, psychoanalysis, nudism, superstition, pop art or music criticism. He responded bluntly to all of the above. Props to Mess + Noise for the tip.

Advertisements

November 18, 2008

Penny Modra of ThreeThousand on writing

Posted in Web tagged , , , , , at 11:06 pm by Andrew McMillen

Penny Modra is editor of ThreeThousand, a weekly email guide to Melbourne’s subculture whose sister publications include FourThousand and TwoThousand for Brisbane and Sydney, respectively. Emerging creative hub Junior interviewed Penny for their second entry in an series profiling established creative types and their advice for the legion of youth attempting to break into industries such as advertising, architecture, design, photography and journalism. 

If you’re reading my blog, you’ll want to read the entire interview. Some quotes:

If you want to make money from writing, you’ve got to understand what copywriting is, and you’ve got to seriously love it (rather than view it as some kind of inglorious detour on your route to literary fame). You also have to actually read the publications you pitch to.

Do you really want an internship at The Age where they’ll pay you nothing and cycle you through business, sports, travel and whatever else for basically no pay? Or would you like to have a column one day that someone has given you because you’ve built up your own identity as a writer more broadly? Better to take on the real world from the start I think.

This is a refreshing outlook. Leave the fact-reporting to boring people. Be known for being interesting, and people will want to talk to you and read you.

…we’re always looking for people who can turn 150 words on a t-shirt into a really good piece of reading. Or a bar write-up into the highlight of someone’s day. And this is a rare and valuable skill.

If you have studied journalism you may well be bitter and pessimistic already – all the joy and honesty has been sapped from you… So try to remember your English language skills and forget everything else. People who are honest, and have genuine curiosity and a real interest in the world are good writers.

I took a grammar elective during the semester just passed, and it started to affect my appreciation of the language. Analysing sentence construction and subordinate phrases is amazingly boring. As a result, I am far more concerned with cultivating an entertaining tone than being grammatically correct.

When you’re pitching to other people, you can send them links to your work. Or you can just meet them by saying “Oh herro, I linked to you in my blog because I think you are rad.” (People do this all the time, apparently. Look, I know it sounds lame, but it’s NOT.) Make sure every piece of work you do is solid gold, no matter what it’s for.

She’s right, it’s not lame. It’s a massive fucking compliment to receive from a fellow writer when you’re young and making a name for yourself, when you don’t know whether what you’re writing is any good.

Get away from school and university networks and clubs and join real world clubs. Such as people who sit at bars and bitch about life. Or people who help out at radio stations. Or people who start magazines. Or run arts festivals. And when you are in conversations with people, listen to what they’re saying. Don’t be all shy, just actually listen to them and then you’ll relax and think of things to say back.

Further to this, I think it’s important to realise that most people won’t read what you write, and to become comfortable with that fact. Because you’ll realise that the people who do read are the ones that matter. They’re the ones you’re writing for; the ones you want to make smile, the ones you want to keep reading your material. Because reading is fucking fun and enlightening and relaxing. There’s miles and miles of thoughts transcribed and ideas published every day, and it’s a thrill to have an audience who’re willing to take the time to read and respond to your words.

Penny ends with this quip:

NEVER use food metaphors in music write-ups. God. Just don’t do it. 

I’m guilty on at least four counts, which is just disgusting. Lesson learned.

Subscribe to Junior right now, because you’ve got no good reason not to. Their first interview with animation director Tim Kentley of XYZ Studios is excellent, too.

November 12, 2008

Notes on Q Music’s PR, Promotion and Marketing Workshop

Posted in Music tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:54 pm by Andrew McMillen

I attended Q Music‘s workshop at the Troubadour last night. The topic was music promotion, marketing and public relations; speakers included Brent Hampstead (Media Hammer), Jo Nilsen (Butcher Birds), Megan Reeder (Secret Service/Dew Process) and Kellie Lloyd (Q Music/Screamfeeder). The venue was filled with seated bodies, mostly youngsters, who were privy to some valuable advice from the four experienced industry representatives.

What follows is a series of notes I took in chronological order. It’s best to take each paragraph as a separate thought, though they are all joined under the umbrella of music promotion, marketing and public relations. My interjections are italicised.

Introduction: marketing your music incorporates promotion and publicity.

Steps as an artist:

Record some music.

Decide whether you’re distribute it online or in physical form.

Write a marketing plan with specific targets. Budget? Street press goals? MySpace? Pitching to radio station? How do you plan to spend your budget?

Decide and arrange how you wish to present your image as an artist. Use a creative photographer. 

Conduct a cohesive launch of your product into the market.

Create a community from a grassroots level – since that’s where you’ll be starting.

Don’t overcommunicate your message; people have their own lives.

Andrew: If they’re willing to take the time to listen to your music, that’s great. If they’re willing to reach out and communicate with you, that’s amazing. I don’t think enough time was spent discussing this. Getting a person to hear your music in an accomplishment. Being remarkable enough for a person – not a friend, family member, or acquaintance – to take the time to add you as a friend, send you a message, give you feedback on your creative output – that’s incredible. That’s to be cherished. It’s the equivalent of a person stopping you in the street and commenting on your appearance. That shit rarely happens. If I were a musician, I would not take my first fan for granted. The first ten. The first hundred, the first thousand. Attention is a scarce resource, and I think this is absolutely worth keeping in mind.

Personalise your responses to any feedback or thanks, wherever possible. To be successful and valuable at any level of media, ensure that you engage in personal, polite and professional feedback.

Acquire or subscribe to the Australasian Music Industry Directory (AMID). This contains key information that you’d otherwise spent hours Googling. Brent mentioned that the importance of the AMID was one of the strongest take-away points.

Electronic press kits aren’t used much anymore. Instead, press releases via email – bio, photo, compressed mp3.

Mailing physical copies of your recorded CDs is a waste of valuable merch money. These products are just added to a pile in an office and are easily ignored.

Megan suggested targeting blogs before street press. She didn’t really expand on this. Jo mentioned Before Hollywood, Is By Bus and Turn It Up To Ten.

Megan explained that Dew Process have people devoted to digital content creation and maintaining interest in their artists, through MySpace updates, video blogs, regular content to reminder each artist’s fanbase of their activity.

Brent stated that you should think about online content as early as possible. Record and document as much as you can, as you’ll never know when you’ll want or need it. Andrew: This is an important point that they didn’t really dwell on – this generation has greater access to information and the ability to record and publish than any other. The cost of storage and data is constantly decreasing. Take advantage of this.

Brent mentioned Short Stack as a great example of a band who have built a strong online community around them which has translated into success, popularity, tours and a record deal.

Some web companies will provide content for free. Jo mentioned Moshcam, who’ll record your show (in Sydney) and provide you with a DVD recording free of charge. Andrew: This sounds a little hard to believe and requires further investigation.

LastFM, FasterLouder, Mess+Noise, FourThousand and The Dwarf were all mentioned as valuable online resources and communities that should be leveraged on a local, national and international level.

How do you attract people to your site, or your online community? This relates to setting out a coherent marketing plan. Target, in order: blogs, street press, newspapers, community radio, JJJ, television.. solidify each community before moving on. Andrew: They forgot to state that this takes time and requires patience, and dedication. But I guess that goes without saying.

Prepare a biography that tells a story. How do you want to be presented? Answer the obvious questions – how you met, where the name came from – to avoid these being repeated in interviews. Though you’ll always get writers who have under-researched. Brent stated that your bio needs a hook – you need to give someone a reason to want to read about you.

Print media runs on two types of lead times: long and short. Bigger publications such as Rolling Stone and Jmag tend to set a deadline six weeks in advance for the majority of content. Street press generally run on a one or two week lead time. Online is shorter again, due to the ability to quickly turn around content. Andrew: I just discovered that Rolling Stone Australia has no online presence. What a missed opportunity.

Set a release date for your product – single, EP, album, gig – and work backwards from that point. Stick to it. Plan ahead so that you’re not caught out. Organise marketing efforts – remember, this incorporates promotion and publicity.

With regard to street press – don’t hound them. Politely request interviews, reviews, features. They’re generally nice, but constantly under pressure to turn content around on a weekly (in the case of Rave, Time Off and Scene) or monthly (Tsunami) basis. The best way to get your name out is to gig regularly and be heard. Social proof! Again, Brent stated the importance of personalised invitations – in the mail, if you’re willing to go to the effort, since it will often be appreciated. Email costs nothing and takes little time.

Extensive discussion which indicated that Richard Kingsmill decides whether you’re played on JJJ and effectively holds the keys to your national career. No one commented on how sad this is. Brent cracked a joke about how JJJ is taxpayer-funded: if you’re a taxpayer, it is your right to be played on the station! Though perhaps you’ll require greater tact than this to improve your chances.

Create a network of friends – interstate bands, radio announcers, street press and blog writers. If they like you, they’ll become your champion. Andrew: This is absolutely true. Word of mouth musical recommendations are still my biggest influence; if the word’s coming from a respected or esteemed mouth, then I’m highly likely to listen.

Being a musician is a constant juggling act: releases, gigs, merch, press, radio. Brent stressed the importance of multiple impressions across as many media as possible. Be relentless! But don’t overcommunicate. The more impressions that you’ve got circulating out there, the more potential eyeballs and ears to see and hear your output.

Advice on approaching bands, promoters, street press, radio, or anyone throughout your life in general -just ask. Put yourself out there. Be tenacious, and sneaky on occasion. If you’re serious about making this work – what the hell are you holding back for?

Advice on the music industry in general – be meticulous, patient, and prepared. Always.

Andrew: Hopefully this’ll be of some use to those who missed out, or whoever stumbles across these notes in the future. The above summarises the thoughts and opinions of four music industry figures in late 2008. It’ll be interesting to look back on this post in 12 months’ time.

November 10, 2008

Effective Tribe Management: 200 Nipples

Posted in Web tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:40 pm by Andrew McMillen

200 Nipples is an online t-shirt store with a twist:

That’s how many nipples we assume will be covered by any single run of our high-quality shirts. (We’ll have the third-nippled buyer in there occasionally, but we didn’t want to count on it when naming the company; this is serious business, after all.) 

One hundred shirts per month, individually numbered. Shirt prices range from US$1 to US$100 inclusive. First in, best dressed.

I’ve had my eye on them for a few months, since they were mentioned on Seth‘s blog. Funnily enough, I can’t find the post where he initially linked to them.

I received notification this morning, Brisbane time, that a new shirt was due to go onsale later that afternoon. I set a reminder in my calendar and went about my business for the rest of the day.

At 4pm, I logged onto the site and found that their 100-item cart showed that no shirts had been bought. Weird. I proceeded to checkout and received order confirmation of my longsleeve shirt, which cost US$11 including postage. Sweet.

Except that their shopping cart and database broke, and 76 users thought they’d snapped up shirts for a dollar or two. Whoops.

This potentially painful ordeal was handled brilliantly by Wade, 200 Nipples’ founder. He replaced the storefront with a temporary ‘out of order’ page and kept hundreds of repeatedly-refreshing users in the loop by updating two blog posts.

A couple of dozen users chatted amongst ourselves in the comments sections until Wade initiated a ‘do over’at 4.30pm. Best of all, Wade defused the fiscal situation by creating and publishing a 33%-off coupon, which was valid for an hour. 

Shirts 1-30 were snapped up in minutes, but I snagged #11 for US$11.

200_nipples_intrusion

This year, Seth’s all about tribes. He posits – bolding mine:

Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world.

It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn’t an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

It adds to that the fact that what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.

At a guess, Wade’s tribe numbers in the low hundreds right now. His tribe was brought closer together today, by sharing a disruptive experience that was elegantly and openly managed. 

We ended up taking a $150+ hit on the coupon code, but that’s OK. Above all else, we always want to deliver a good experience to you, the users of the site. The overwhelming majority of our customers were very cool about it. Thanks so much for your understanding.

Perfect. This is the kind of experience that gives Wade’s tribe a story to tell and something to talk about. You can bet I’m going to tell this story to everyone who asks about my long-sleeved shirt.. which mightn’t be worn for months, since it’s almost summertime in Australia.

200_nipples_intrusion_guy

Tribes is a great concept and a book that I look forward to reading. 200 Nipples is an example of gathering a tribe around a niche concept – attractive, limited, (potentially) cheap shirts – and today, a great example of masterful tribe management.

November 9, 2008

Fear

Posted in Life tagged , , , , at 11:09 am by Andrew McMillen

You know, my biggest fear is mediocrity.

Waking up one day and realising that I embody all the traits that I dislike in other people.

Whether in mind – watching television, not reading, conducting conversations that revolve around inane interpersonal relationship bullshit.

Or in body – eating crap, binge drinking, not exercising.

Fear is healthy. Fear is a huge motivator.

It’d be easy to construct this as some huge deal, a struggle, a rage against mediocrity. But it’s not. Instead, it’s kind of easy.

One simple question, asked over and over: who do you want to be?

November 6, 2008

Interview: Denis Semchenko, undergraduate music journalist

Posted in Music tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:55 pm by Andrew McMillen

Griffith University Communication almost-graduate and current Rave Magazine writer Denis Semchenko kindly saw fit to answer a series of questions regarding his career path, university and internship experiences, and the current state of music journalism on a local and national level.

Thanks for your time, Denis. You’re nearing the end of your Bachelor of Journalism, majoring in Communication (or is it the other way around?) at Brisbane’s Griffith University. How’s that working out for you?

Yes, fingers crossed I’m graduating this semester after finishing my journalism major in Bachelor of Communication (same thing – they make journos!). I have to say it’s a pretty stressful time of the year – I’m the news editor for the Griffith University annual student newspaper The Source, the making of which constitutes the News & Current Affairs Production module (third year journalism subject), so there are always issues with obtaining photos for stories, finishing up others’ work, proofreading, subediting as well as last-minute alterations and unexpected story material, and with the semester’s end looming, I never seem to get bored. Bring on the graduation!

Can you elaborate on your previous tertiary education experiences? 

It’s been a long and somewhat strange trip, to be honest – I wanted to become a journalist since my early teens, but got dissuaded by my parents and their friends who thought it wouldn’t be a suitable career path for me unlike, say, business, accounting or law.

I first started studying Commerce 9 years ago in Canberra; I wasn’t even 18 at the time, fresh out of my high school in Russia, and I ended up hating that course so much I dropped out after a year and went to study IT (again after the suggestion it was the ‘big thing’) at the Canberra Institute of Technology, which I finished after 3 years with a diploma. I did some further IT studies when I moved down to Melbourne 5 years ago but eventually realised my heart wasn’t in programming or systems administration either.

Having relocated to QLD 4 years ago, it took me a further 1.5 years of office work to want to study again, and this time I decided to pursue my original passion – journalism.
 
I understand you’ve undertaken some rather interesting internships. 

Yes, I’ve managed to accrue a somewhat unheard-of grand total of 6 weeks’ work experience this semester, including 3 weeks at ABC Online, 1 week at Channel Nine and 2 weeks at Rave Magazine.

Were these organised by Griffith, or a result of your own initiative and enthusiasm?

Both I guess – the actual internships were organised by my course convenor at Griffith according to the preferences I’ve specified and the slots available – I didn’t end up getting The Courier Mail, Channel Seven or Channel Ten gigs, for example.

The Rave gig was largely a result of a mutual understanding between me and my teacher who seized on the fact that I tended to write my best assignments on music and art themes; besides that, I had always wanted to write about music and being an avid street/music press reader, it meant a lot to me to be writing for Rave.

How did that eventuate? Had you considered music journalism beforehand?

Chris Harms, the Rave editor, seemed to be impressed by the amount of work I did for the magazine during my 2 weeks of internship, including music news, tour announcements, artist interviews, feature stories, CD and live reviews and was happy to give me extra work to do.

By the time my internship ended, I stated I was more than keen to keep doing it – being a musician and a band-member as well as a journalism student, I felt I could contribute to the Brisbane music scene by putting out the word for numerous bands and providing more recorded and live music coverage, as well as learn from the masters while I was at it. 

I was also told that not many uni students who do internships in music press are actually music fans, nor do they particularly wish to attend gigs, so someone like me – a music/guitar nut – was a find.

All said, I feel I’ve finally become someone I always wanted to be – a music writer. 

You mention ‘learning from the masters’ during your time in the Rave office. What’s your opinion on the current state of Brisbane’s four regular street press publications – Rave, Time Off, Scene and Tsunami?

Without being biased, I think Rave is doing a great job – quality written material, extensive live event coverage and people who actually live and breathe music despite the daily stress. 

From my memory, Time Off used to be better back in the day than it is now  – we don’t really need Sydney ads here in Brisbane and I don’t have a lot to say on their new website design and structure.

Scene is doing a good job on covering dance music/hip-hop/club events, however the print version has this very odd and not particularly pleasant whiff to it, which still doesn’t necessarily stop me from reading it.

As for Tsunami, I used to think they were primarily dedicated to heavy music but they actually encompass a broad selection of genres, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

You mentioned that Rave do well despite the daily stress, which I took to mean the difficulty in assembling the content for a widely-read publication week after week. Could you elaborate on this stress, based on your time spent in the office?

Story/news requests pile up every day – everyone wants to be in the magazine! I have witnessed how the artist-publicist scheme works, and while I cannot question its effectiveness, it’s what keeps Rave on their toes.

During my internship, I was in the Rave office every day and that’s when my multitasking skills came to force – I was either writing newsbeats, newsbites, album reviews, feature stories or interviewing artists practically every day. There was a number of interviews that other people could not do so I had to step in and do them, or the opportunity of speaking to an artist you like would pop up and you would miss out because you’d be too busy writing and a fellow contributor would beat you to it!

Having said that, however, the notions of seniority, experience and familiarity with a particular artist/genre are also involved in the interview distribution. The same goes for live gig reviews – the assistant editor is working overtime organising those. It does indeed get rather hectic sometimes but not every day in the Rave office is immensely stressful as you also get relatively cruisy days where you just do things in your time. 

Monday is traditionally the busiest and the most stressful day of the week at Rave, as the print version comes out on Tuesday and you’ve got to make sure you’ve handed in all your copy and corrected all the typos and blunders. I twice helped proofread the print version of the mag and stayed in the office until 7pm with the rest of the staff.

These days, I’m only in the office when I have to interview a certain artist by phone, copy the recorded audio file for transcription and pick up some CDs for reviewing purposes – usually once or twice a week during business hours, but I wouldn’t mind becoming a permanent staffer… if I end up sticking around in Brisbane for longer, that is.

Street press exists for several reasons – to promote artists; to provide critical commentary on artists and their output; to provide advertising space.. you can probably think of more. What role do you think the street press should serve, and how are the above four measuring up to these objectives?

I think the primary role of street press is informing people about the wide variety of music, including live music, available in their hometown – and the above four are answering to the challenge, maybe not 100% because it’s impossible to cover absolutely everyone who’s playing in town during the week, but I still reckon it’s a pretty big effort and I have enormous respect for fellow writers and musicians, particularly when I can tell they feel compelled to do it.

The veil of objectivity among music writers is something I find particularly interesting and amusing. I only write about artists I expect to be entertaining or interesting, and I suspect you’re much the same. Thus, we usually already possess a positive connotation of an artist before we see them play live, or interview them, or listen to their album. What’s your take on objectivity as a music critic?

My take is normally ‘objectivity first, subjectivity second or last’ depending on whether I like or don’t like a certain artist – I agree with you on possessing a positive connotation of an artist and I expect them to deliver.

Chris, the Rave editor, told me it was important that my writing stays objective; at this stage, I feel I’m still largely ‘beyond good and evil’ when it comes to reviewing music that I don’t particularly like, however I also agree that sometimes you’ve got to give flak yet be able to back it up sufficiently.

Another contentious musical topic is individual taste. Music fans will rise to the defence of artists just as soon as they would a family member. It’s a really interesting phenomenon that I was reminded of when Everett True made some inflammatory comments about some Australian artists back in August. With regard to the musicians you write about – do you try to steer away from outright criticism, or do you aim for honesty? I guess this comes back to the objectivity/subjectivity argument, too. 

Again, I agree (but not always conform) with the notion that outright criticism is great when you can back it up, otherwise it’s not far removed from shitting in your own nest when you’re reviewing Australian artists. Everett True said something not everyone else dared to and copped all sorts of righteous “how dare you, you stupid bloody whinging Pom!” response from all corners, which wasn’t surprising at all considering how much an average Australian cherishes their middle-of-the-road “big” bands like Powderfinger and Silverchair.

Honesty, objectivity and confident criticism are my primary aims as a reviewer – I might be a bit subjective towards the abovementioned Powderchair phenomenon due to my consistent failure to grasp it, being a bloody foreigner and all, but my love for original Australian (and international) music remains undiminished.

You seem heavily into music writing at this point in your life. Can you see yourself carving a name for yourself as a writer in that industry, or do you have greater designs for your career?

Yes and yes – I’m going to keep combining my aspirations as a musician with music writing and I’m prepared to do the hard yards on both accounts.  

Given the people you’ve met throughout your course and your time spent engaging with the media industry itself, have you got any advice you’d like to impart on would-be journalism undergraduates, media personalities or music critics? 

Firstly, ask yourself why you want to do it. Secondly, be yourself and thirdly, don’t get starstruck but be patient, persistent, creative, brave and take chances – the last two are from the advice John Birmingham gave me and I think these are the words to live by. 

Thanks for your time Denis. Good luck with the graduation; I’m sure we’ll be reading more of your work in the near future!

Denis Semchenko is a Communication undergraduate and enthusiastic contributor to Brisbane-based music publication Rave Magazine. He can be contacted via email, LastFM or Facebook. His published work can be found with the assistance of Google.

November 5, 2008

Rock Day Jobs: The Mark Of Cain

Posted in Music tagged , , , , at 9:46 pm by Andrew McMillen

The Mark Of Cain are a hard rock band from Adelaide, South Australia. Featuring brothers Kim and John Scott on bass and guitar respectively, the trio were prolific throughout the 1990s and attracted JJJ airplay and a dedicated following. Their last album, This Is This, was released in 2001. Ex-Helmet and TMOC drummer John Stanier went on to greater success with Tomahawk and Battles, and the band laid dormant until earlier in 2008.

The band started a blog in April; it was seldom-updated until I received an RSS notification yesterday. John posted a new article regarding his frustration at being unable to find the time to lay down the vocal tracks for their sixth album.

It’s an interesting read even if you have no interest in the band, and for that I don’t blame you. They play a very aggressive style of hard rock that’s decidedly masculine and notoriously cathartic in its delivery. Check out their MySpace to sample their work.

Here is the link to John’s entry. He discusses day jobs, the government tender process, the Australian Defence Force and their professional doublespeak. It’s not often that I read uncensored diatribes published directly by well-known bands, so I thought I’d share it with you.

I’ve included some quotes below.

Kim is now responsible for the day to day running of a business that has around 900 people in it, and the role he has taken on is still in its infancy as far as his learning the way the company works and so he has been very quiet of late.

As for me, I’ve been involved in a couple of what we call “bids” at work, where long hours are put in (more often than not), to estimate how long a job will take and what it’s cost would be and then issue it out as a response to a customer’s needs. In this case the customer is usually the Australian Defence Force, and they often release a request to companies to quote on how much it will cost to provide a particular requirement to meet their operational needs, and that is where the bid process comes in.

Hey, planes drop bombs you know so what are you going do? May as well help get better accuracy and help decrease collateral damage, (my apologies for using doublespeak, what I meant to say was help stop blowing defenceless woman and children and other innocent non-combatants into vapour – the pink mist….).

How great it would have been to have had some success with music that would allow a life that revolved around recording and writing full time rather than trying to fit two disparate careers together which don’t even have the slightest overlap with each other.

Full article here.

November 3, 2008

Marketing Juice

Posted in Life tagged , , , at 11:33 pm by Andrew McMillen

I bought a Spring Valley juice at university the other week. Apple and blackcurrant, on a whim – not my usual drink of choice, but it satisfied.

I wasn’t too impressed by the copy on the side of the bottle, though:

After just one sip of this heaven-sent, preservative-free juice, that halo perched precariously above your head will flicker back to life like a broken neon sign. This of course signals the start of repentance for the pain you’ve put your body through over the weekend.

springvalley.com.au

This is stupid, because they’ve defined their target market as young people who get hammered every weekend and only drink juice as a hangover cure. Alcohol-inflicted injury is what I’m lead to believe the ‘pain’ refers to.

This is their marketing ploy. No preservatives. No added sugar. Drink this when you’ve been a dumbshit binge drinker over the weekend. 

Not the best assumption to make about your target market, right? The ‘liddle facts‘ under the lid are cute, but they don’t gel with the message on the side of the bottle. And they list an impersonal web address.

Contrast this against the copy on the side of a Boost Juice cup. Verbatim:

So, now you’ve got your Boost. Tell us:

Does it taste amazing?

Did our boosties make it for you in a flash?

Did they make you feel good for coming to Boost today?
Please let us know if we reached our usual giddy heights of brilliance today. We love hearing from you, the great stuff as well as what we can do better!

love life

(Janine Allis‘ signature)

janine@boostjuicebars.com


I like this a lot. The tense switches are appropriate. She calls the workers – often young females – boosties, which I’d guess would make them like their job a little more. Like Subway‘s sandwich artists – or maybe not. Maybe they take the piss out of it and hate their jobs. But the ‘boosties’ I witness usually seem pretty happy. 

The copy isn’t overwhelmingly, desperately happy. Just positive overall. And aside from the awesome-tasting juice, the service is one of the reasons I return to Boost. Their assembly line system is tight, even when they’re busy and the queue is dozens deep. Everyone knows what they’re doing, and their work is on display, all the time. Their training regime must kick arse.

And the inclusion of Janine’s address at the end is another nice personal touch. Sure, she’d most likely have assistances reading for her, but I get the distinct impression that I’d receive a reply if I were to email that address. I’ll try it out, and I’ll include a link to this article.

Two different marketing strategies for two different brands targeting two slightly different segments of the juice market. One assumes poor past personal behaviour on their customers’ part; as a result, their tone comes off as haughty, and vaguely offensive. The other makes their loyal customers smile, and extends the opportunity to open a dialogue between producer and consumer.

Which of these is sustainable?