Why this digital marketing agency likes re-appropriation

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One of the best things about working at an award-winning public relations agency, aside from all the awards, is the sheer number of cool, interesting and innovative ideas you’re exposed to on a daily basis. Logically, when your job is to come up with ingenious concepts, it pays to take in as much inspiration as possible.
Take this morning, for example. After the obligatory coffee wake-up call we began to knuckle down to some online research and stumbled upon two bold and unarguably attention grabbing attempts to re-appropriate imagery- one aimed at making a statement, the other designed to boost sales, and both guaranteed to ensure anyone browsing by will pay full attention.
First up is Bird’s Eye China, a Tumblr site we found via this insightful interview with the guy responsible,┬áDerek Man Lui, currently available to read over on PSFK. In short, the chap in question has taken it upon himself to use the delightful imagery created by China’s Baidu Maps (like Google maps, only approved by the ruling party) to have a little fun. By dropping a quote, comment or statement into the ‘scene’, he makes people laugh by poking fun at the country’s rapid economic development and the government’s stance on various issues. Here are a couple recent posts from the blog:
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As you can see, if nothing else it proves that Google Maps could be a little more creative in the options it gives us for visual displays- we love the Sim City style aesthetic of Baidu. So far so good, we were then delighted to see the latest Adidas trainer, which represents another leap forward in the development of the Internet of Things, and the ongoing blurring of lines between the digital and real world. Put simply, the clothing giant is now offering shoppers the opportunity to have their Instagram images printed onto new footwear, thus making every design the kind of limited edition offering that sneaker collectors across the globe get very excited about. Take a look:
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Although some might say these are two disparate and unconnected items, we’d recommend taking a closer look. After all, in both instances headlines have been made and heads turned thanks to the principles of re-appropriation; or, for any non-art theorists in the room,┬áthe practice of taking something visual and using it for purposes other than those original intended. As this page title suggests, it’s a notion this Manchester digital marketing agency loves, and fundamentally speaking it’s the same idea that made cat memes so popular, and resurrected the old World War II Keep Calm and Carry On slogan. Of course we’re not saying every attempt to hold a captive audience should be based on this type of re-use, but nevertheless it would be folly to overlook how consistently effective the concept can be when pulled off properly.