By now, we expect most readers of this site will have heard of Converse. The sneaker brand. Who sponsored 2 x Chinese independent artists on a proper road trip around China, in 2008. Converse Love Noise made quite a stir as a good way for brands to actively engage with the new creative class that is coming out of urban China.
And where once there was one, now there are many. 10 days ago, we were down at Yuyintang in Shanghai for a show with Beijing ex-emo band Tookoo and their sidekicks Bigger Bang. We had heard that Vans (the “other” sneaker brand) was supporting Tookoo, and it seems like that now extends to Bigger Bang. In between bands, we wandered around the venue, only to see that the Chinese sneaker brand Feiyue were getting in on the act with a media party at the same venue. So without further ado, this is what’s happening in the increasingly branded world of indie music:
Puma “Archive Uncovered”
Jan 22, Yuyintang 35RMB
Archive Uncovered is a worldwide music session with the theme “We only rock classics”. Puma threw parties in Sydney and Manila last year – now China. This time they invite the Mushrooms and Ziyo to play cover songs for this event, plus there will be an IPOD mp3 battle named “Archive Beatdown” with some fashion design companies and DJs at the show.
The party will likely be a regular event.
People can get free tix when they buy some specific Puma products in the shop.
Chinese Style: Feiyue Party
Jan 3, Yuyintang Free entrance (you need to wear a pair of Feiyue shoes)
This was more of a fashion party, despite the fact that it is hosted at the local music venue Yuyintang. The brand invited some media and fashion people, and there was a fashion show featuring the shoes on the stage. They invited some local new bands like Second and 8MG, but the music was a minor element of the evening. They only wanted 200 people at the show.
Vans: Tookoo and Bigger Bang tour
Dec 18 – Jan 10, Beijing, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Changsha, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai
Even though Vans had their logos on posters and flyers for this tour, it seems that Vans did very little to leverage their involvement through social media and traditional media. Our researchers searched online but found little to no connections made between the brand and the tour. There was little to no branding in the Shanghai venue.
Vans did run an underground model show for the bands with a lot of street teenagers..
Polo Sporty: Rock City Notes
Jan 19, Wuhan/Jan 25, Chengdu/Feb 1, Shanghai/ Feb 8, Beijing
SOHU.COM cooperate with Volkswagen: their special journalist Zhongsheng (the founder of Pilot Records) is driving a Polo Sporty to four cities in search of some new local bands. They will do the interviews for the bands, do a documentary film for the tour, take photos and write a tour diary about the music scene for each city. Everything will feature on SOHU.COM
You can see the Wuhan film here:
The linkups are obvious – young, independent Chinese music and fashion/ sports/ apparel brands working together to expand their presence in China. Of these events, the Puma party seems the least well thought, with poor marketing and little originality. For Vans, it depends on the mandate that they set for themselves with the Tookoo/ Bigger Bang association. The bassist for both bands was wearing a Vans t-shirt and shoes, but leveraging the brand’s support was non-existent, which seems strange considering the obvious links.
Of the four, Volkswagen is the only one that has come up with a nice mix of story/ media and originality. The lack of ability to embed the video into other sites is a shame, but tying up with a media giant like SOHU means a loss of independence regarding other media.