It’s an eternal struggle: Young people start valuing individuality and being unique, and shun the venerable old brands. They’re too stuffy, they say, too much a part of the old way. Despite hipsters’ efforts to avoid uncool brands and give their support to small, indie producers, these powerful companies stick around. And it’s through adaptation. This trend of being fashionably ironic and hedonistically informed is being observed and sculpting the way huge corporations get their bony, decrepit fingers on cool kids’ money. But the transition isn’t always smooth. Consider the stories:
One humiliating day, someone leaked the luxury auto manufacturer’s strategies to capture the cool kids’ attention. Reading like the margins of a desperately lonely nerd’s Algebra II notes, some poor fool at Audi compiled 64 pages on how to get urban 20-40-year-olds to spend two years’ wages from their barista job. Does Audi realize how many cigarettes you could buy with 30 thousand bucks? A LOT. Check out this document to witness the full extent of un-coolness.
“The music needs to demonstrate an obvious cool-factor, and create the kind of hip, nighttime, uncompromised ambience that no other competitor can deliver.”
Audi’s strategy was to present hipsters with the space they were comfortable in, lure them into the kind of party hipsters love. The kind of party that takes place at night. In a warehouse or something like that. The kind of party with cool music. With good food and good beer. Audi wanted their brand to be associated with “Good Times,” planting the idea that Good Times would keep happening with a new Audi. Basically, their move was to try and get used to marketing to a new group of people. As embarrassing as it is for their strategy to be laid bare, there’s always going to be stumbles when you’re attempting to target the most pretentious and disdainful people on Earth. Good try, Audi. At least you aren’t involved in this next story.
Game Jams are a great part of the indie games scene. Participants are given a ludicrously short period of time and some kind of theme or design limit, and are sent off sprinting to develop a simple but complete video game. The format gives developers a chance to explore little ideas they’ve had, an opportunity to flex their abilities and see what they can do in a couple days. A breeding ground for innovation, hilarity, and community, and naturally, a great marketing opportunity.
GAME_JAM was a jam conceived of to be filmed and produced for a televised audience. The organizers hoped to capture the excitement, chaos, and experimentation that holds together the indie game community. Things got larger, sponsors came in, and things got complicated. Thanks to a corporate partnership with Pepsi, the production crew was invaded by a Mountain Dew-pushing producer who made it his mission to create a infomercial/reality-show climate for GAME_JAM.
“The Arcane Kids were screamed at for not holding bottles right, while the entire group was lectured on how to properly smile like you’re enjoying the product – a product that everyone was enjoying less and less. The slow train wreck of faces flipping into scowls marked only the beginning of what would soon turn into an utter shitshow.”
Mountain Dew holds a place in my mind as the kinda tasty soda that embarrasses itself and its associates periodically by putting Master Chief on its lightning-sprayed purple and black cans. It’s always appealed to the lowest common denominator of the “hardcore” gamer market. And that’s what it continued to do to GAME_JAM.
“‘Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?’
Silence. It was like the wind was sucked out of the room behind the barrier, but the floor was so loud, only the two all-male teams heard the question. Mark answered diplomatically that the teams actually had a huge advantage by having more viewpoints, though everyone was strong regardless because of their skill. Matti cut him off, pulled back the camera, and coughed, ‘Stop filming. We’re not getting a story here.'”
Instead of humbling itself like Audi, and admitting maybe it didn’t know what it was doing in this indie space, Pepsi (or rather its loudmouth consultant) tried to hijack the space itself, take control and tell indie gamers what was cool. They never even got the chance. By appealing to gamers’ sexism, which is thankfully more discussed and controlled in the indie scene, Pepsi’s guy caused the participants to revolt and abandon the Jam, wasting four hundred thousand dollars in the process.
Keep up the good work, indie kids. Stay cool.