One of the interesting people I met in LA was Oliver from Digisynd - and one of the most exciting things we talked about was their new approach to advertising in video. As a part of Disney, these guys have access to lots of talent and they have used the new video from the wildy popular Jonas Brothers to develop a very interesting marketing approach for Office Max.
This preview or trailer for the video reached 370k views within a couple of days - as well as 6000 comments - and the actual video is expected to get as many as 70 million views. Office Max have a presence on the trailer and on the video which feels more like brand curated content than advertising - and a call to action that will drive an awful lot of store traffic.
Is this approach better or worse than actual advertising? Could this be a way to get real scale on social media? And what's the view from YouTube - do they demand a revenue share?
This idea of creating places where you go to worship the brand are increasingly common; if you watch the crowds at any Apple store many people are just browsing - or maybe going for a lecture. (Flickr has over 80k picture tagged Apple Store!)
The Comme de Garcon Dover Street Market in London is another wonderful example - they curate the space and have lots of competing brands for sale there - all building the perception that Comme really understand style and fashion.
In the car market, the best examples used to be the showrooms on the Champs D'Elysees for Renault and Peugeot but they are less impressive these days. For more examples have a look at the Trendspotting take on brand spaces - though many of these are a little gimmicky for my taste.
Creating a real brand cathedral is expensive, but it can be really effective.
I came across this video from a project we did in late 2000 for Teletext. Ignoring the hyping of the client it's interesting just how much of this stuff is realistic - and there is even some stuff that feels like brand utility.
Other than the references to Leeds United, most of it still seems plausible.