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Daft Punk - what can brands learn from robots

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Random Access Memories, the new album from French duo Daft Punk (DP) looks set to break all the records when it comes to album sales and streaming. As the hype reaches fever pitch, we take a look at the key ingredients of what’s made this one of the most hyped album releases in recent memory and more importantly what makes Daft Punk such a successful brand.

 

1. Consistent Identity and Values

 

From Ziggy Stardust to Deadmau5, artists performing through an adopted character is nothing new. Daft Punk's robot personas have given the brand a consistency of image that has remained largely unchanged in a way that might not have been possible performing as themselves. As Guy Man put it, "Looking at robots is not like looking at an idol. It's not a human being, so it's more like a mirror - the energy people send to the stage bounces back and everybody has a good time together rather than focusing on us."

However, it goes beyond the robot masks, it's underpinned by a belief system/ a point of view based on innovation and pioneering. Chris Price, music editor of industry trade magazine Record of the Day described them as 'two of the greatest innovators in popular music and we're as excited to hear what they are doing as we are about David Bowie.' This stance has been projected consistently to an audience over the past 20 years.

 

2. Respecting the Audience

The first track from the album 'Get Lucky' has already spent 3 weeks at number one and it's being played as much on BBC Radio 6 as it is on Heart FM. The fact that it's essentially a disco record ensures accessibility which when combined with a varied cast of collaborators (from Nile Rodgers to Chilly Gonzalez) broadens its appeal further. As many brand's will testify, achieving mainstream appeal whilst retaining credibility amongst a core audience can be challenging but DP seemed to have made it look simple. This is down to a respect for the audience that avoids any divisiveness. Instead, the band have created a pool of content for people to engage with as deeply (fanatics) or as shallow (casuals) as they like. "The main thing is to break the boundaries and the barriers between the little boxes that are set up: there's a hip audience, and there's a mainstream audience; or there are different genres of music where you have to make your choice." There's no need, Bangalter says, for "All this classification."

 

3. Disrupting the landscape

 

Wee Waa, a rural town in the New South Wales outback probably wasn’t at the top of most people’s list for a venue to launch the new album. Whether it was chosen for its community feel which the band felt reflected the spirit of the album or for the six huge telescope satellite dishes that will dance along to Get Lucky, people are talking about it. And it’s not just through events, at the heart of the band lies a desire to innovate and do things differently. So in a world where most people want to be famous, DP want to be anonymous, in a worldwhere people communicate daily via social media, DP produce material every 5 years, in a world where people are focusing a lot on the live experience, DP seek to emphasize the recording process. Ryan Dombal sums it up in his Machines for Life on Pitchfork 'It's why Daft Punk are more punk than almost any punk band of the last 20 years: They refuse to take the familiar path, all in the name of keeping themselves - and their audience - engaged.'

 

4. Great Content

 

As far back as the beginning of April, Daft Punk started to release a series of videos through The Creator’s Project which interviewed the varied artists that collaborated on the new album. Each episode (currently 8 to date) gives a great insight into the creative process behind the album with the Pharrell Williams episode reaching over 2m viewers alone. The series has given the band the opportunity to drip feed a hungry audience with content for 2 months in the lead up to release. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QVtHogFrI0

The band have continued to release great video content right up to the last moment of release which has ensured the hype has reached epic proportions. The latest video sees the duo in a spaceship pulling out a vinyl record of the new album that gets played for the first few seconds before ending abruptly. http://www.vevo.com/watch/daft-punk/random-access-memoriesunboxed/USQX91301213

5. Collaborations that untap new audiences

The long and varied list of collaborators on Random Access Memories has been a major theme of the creative process for the album but there’s an added benefit. Each collaborating artist brings with them their own fan base to further broaden Daft Punk’s appeal. It extends beyond music as well. The fashion brand Saint Laurent has worked closely with Daft Punk on a project called Saint Laurent Black Glitter Le Smoking Jackets designed by the brand’s creative director Hedi Slimane. The sparkly clothes coincide with the release of the new album. So with two iconic French brands coming together and the numerous artist collaborations, Daft Punk has demonstrated the key ingredients to successful brand partnerships - shared values and mutual benefit.

 

Will Prosser

head of planning at vision nine

will.prosser@visionninehq.com

 

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