Richie Meldrum
Richie Meldrum

mail@richiemeldrum.com

Here’s a the video for a new campaign I worked on for independent Melbourne school, Westbourne Grammar.

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Here’s an article I wrote about ‘social influencers’ and how product placement is becoming a regular in your Facebook, Instagram and other sm feeds. The article was published by advertising and marketing site MuMbrella and you can check it out here

The Power of Cool – Product Placement in Social Media

Beauty and popularity have always gone hand in hand. If you think back to the most popular kid at your school, chances are, he or she was blessed with nice hair, clear skin and fortuitous features. Call it natural selection if you like, but the cool kids have courted the attention and admiration of their peers in a relationship dynamic that’s been going on as long as anyone can remember.
These days, things are different – there’s money to be made from being popular. In the online arena, certain individuals have been able to amass huge audiences via their social media accounts. Followers are attracted to their beauty, status and apparently enviable lifestyles, which they document, down to the finest detail, through regular posts and updates on social media accounts – most notably Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr.

A new breed of online celebrity, famous only within their own social media accounts (for now) continue to play an ever-increasing role in the lives of today’s notoriously elusive youth market. They court attention, evoke response and can influence behaviour. Not surprisingly, brands and businesses have quickly taken notice.

It’s always been tricky for advertisers to reach mass audiences in Australia. Geographically, the country has the sixth largest landmass in the world, but in terms of population, it’s way down the line at number 53. The sheer distance between the major cities and the relatively small population makes running national campaigns hard. Traditional media is either very general – the country only has one national print paper (the UK has seven) – or very tailored, with the various regional TV stations only able to speak to their own local audience. This means that brands have had to look for new ways to connect with national markets. This is especially true in the case of younger audiences who, more and more, are backing away from mainstream media consumption – when was the last time you saw a teenager reading a print magazine? By tapping into the social media realm where huge numbers have congregated, advertisers are getting direct access to their target market. What’s more, they are doing so in a far more effective way than simply ramming their product in-between the entertainment the kids want to watch.

Taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the way the social media platforms work, the marketing, advertising and PR industries have essentially created a new form of product placement. However, rather than just showing Marty McFly drinking a Pepsi, or Daniel Craig sporting a Sunspel polo shirt as 007, the social media celebrities endorsing brands in their tweets, posts and videos, are willing and able to offer advertisers a much more blatant endorsement of their wares. Jump online and check out the Instagram accounts of @kayla_itsines (currently sitting at 1.1 millions plus followers) @stephclairesmith (400k followers), or @sjanaelise, (also 400k+ followers) and countless others, and you’ll see what we are talking about. Peppered in between the photos of their ‘everyday lives’ are numerous examples of social media product placements. It could be a new skin care product they ‘swear by’, a new handbag they ‘love’ or a strategic post from a far-flung holiday destination in which that they just happen to mention the tour operator’s name and what an amazing time they are having. Whatever the product, brand or service that is slipped into the mix, it always comes with a picture of said product and an ‘@’ mention, meaning anyone seeing the post can link through to the social media account of the company behind the placement, follow them and perhaps even click on the web link in the account and purchase said product.

First coming to prominence around 18 months ago through the social media accounts of people with large followings and a health or fitness focus to their content, social media product placement is now a well-established and oft used channel for the marketing industry. PR companies including Sweaty Betty have been quick to catch on to the opportunities offered by social media marketing and even started up an offshoot business called Ministry of Talent which represents ‘normal’ people who can wield influence over their followers.
However, according to some professionals working in the industry, being approached by company to promote their product through your social media account isn’t just about how many eyes you have access to.

“Followers are taken into consideration,” says Kate Patterson, an experienced social media manager “but these days the engagement rate is more important. Having 50k followers is great, but if only 500 of them are liking/interacting with the content then the account is not as valuable for a brand. It’s also important to assess whether the person is a good fit for the brand – tone of voice/age etc. Those would be the factors I’d take into consideration if I were to approach an influencer.”

As a new form of marketing and product placement, finding solid information on how it all works, including the commercial arrangements behind the deals, is hard. Many people believe it works on a case by case basis. Often brands would want it to look like a genuine endorsement or a love for the product rather than a paid one. In most cases, brands or PR companies would send out the product to the individuals for free, hoping that this will be incentive enough for them to post it on their social media accounts. They would also provide the relevant brand accounts/handles and hashtags and the expectation would be that the individual would tag the brand page in their post. It’s likely that there would also need to be a discussion whether or not the individual would say that they’d been sent the product, or whether it would be made to look like they’ve chosen to wear or use it themselves.

In terms of monitoring the impact, again it’s hard to know. Analytical reporting on click-throughs in these situations is not provided. Therefore, as an advertiser, you’ve no way of knowing for sure what kind of cut-through you’ve achieved through social media product placement. However, there are some indicators. The more likes or comments there have been on the post, the more you know you’ve had an impact.
Likewise, if you see an increase in followers or an increase in sales then you might be able to point to your social media product placement as a factor.

One thing is for sure – if brands and businesses are using social media platforms to market their products without the owners of the platforms being able to take a cut, then you can bet your bottom dollar that plans are afoot to stop it when the time is right. As Instagram, Snapchat and other such channels move closer to fully monetising their business models with official advertising packages, the days of ‘under the radar’ product placement are numbered.
Until then, the popular kids will continue to be popular and the rest of us will continue to look at them in admiration.

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This is a series of health campaign videos we produced for Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local – (IEMML) – an organisation that helps promote health messages to the public. Turning the idea of your standard Government public health service announcement on its head – we created 4 fake ‘departments’ and let them do the talking – visit the campaign website here www.prettyofficial.com.au

We made 2 videos for each message

Message 1 – to encourage healthy living

Message 2 – to promote immunising your child

Message 3 – to get people to go to their after hours GP (rather than hospital) for non emergencies

Message 4 – to change attitudes on mental health

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Here’s a set of three videos we produced for NAB using pop up books we made (with the help of an amazing talented paper craft artist) to tell the story of their financial planning services.

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Here’s my article on UK rapper Tine Tempah – one of the nicest guy’s ive ever interviewed. first appeared in thevine here

 

 

UK rapper Tinie Tempah might not be the first former grime MC to cross over into the mainstream arena, but he certainly seems to be the one most comfortable in it.

Articulate, intelligent and boasting bags of charm, Tinie, aka Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, has taken to commercial success with far more aplomb than Dizzy, Wiley and a few of his other predecessors, whom often appeared a little frazzled under the bright lights of pop.

Not so 25-year-old Okogwu. His debut album Disc-Overy mastered the balance between underground credibility and chart topping taste-making, scoring double platinum sales, a coveted Mercury Music Prize nomination and two Brit awards, not to mention a US release, something which few UK rappers have ever been trusted with.

Success breeds success, and Okogwu rapidly saw his celebrity stock rise in the wider game of fame with numerous red carpet appearances, TV presenting gigs and the gloss-coveted title of GQ’s best-dressed man of the year.

However, it was within the confines of his own craft that Okogwu shined brightest. Featuring a diverse range of contributing artists and writers including Kelly Rowland, Swedish House Mafia and Wiz Khalifa, Disc-Overy served up the kind of musical cocktail that the masses couldn’t get enough of.

One part pop, one part rap, one part dance; a typical Tine Tempah track sounds like all your favourite bits balled into one, giving you the kind of crossover appeal that every music exec longs to find in an artist. A year after its release, Okogwu sold out London’s 20,000-seater o2 Arena, not something even music’s biggest stars can claim to have achieved after only one album.

So the question put to Okogwu is this – what’s so special about him? What has transpired to allow him to swerve the normal trajectory of an artist and leap from unknown grime MC to stadium filler?

“That’s a good question,” says Okogwa from his London base on a wet and windy night. “I think it’s just being in the right place at the right time, its having the right music, it’s capturing people all in one go and having a little bit of luck as well you know. These are definitely all the things that saw me through. I’m all about making the best music I can, just creating these amazing moments and letting people into my world in different ways, and I just want to continue doing that. I don’t ever think people are going to say it’s the normal trajectory, but I guess everyone’s story is unique to them and this is my one.”

The latest chapter to Okogwu’s story is Demonstration, his second album, which, after a more than a few delays, was finally released last month. Just like his debut, Demonstration features a long list of guest appearances, collaborators, writers and producers. This has again allowed Okogwa to cast his net far and wide when it comes to the different musical genres and influencers which feature across the 15 tracks.

“It’s the best,” enthuses Okogwu. ”I don’t listen to one thing. My iTunes or my Spotify or whatever is constantly shuffling through things and playing different things depending on what mood I’m in. That’s how I like to make music. No one thing has to necessarily be the same, it doesn’t even have to be the same genre. That’s always a fun thing and I think that everyone has something different that they can offer and bring to the table. Being able to experience all that on one record and one recording process is phenomenal. You get to be work with so many different people and be creative is so many different ways.”

Guests featuring on Demonstration include musical Nostradamus Diplo, Scottish songstress Emeli Sande, dance duo Chase and Status, beat maker for the stars Alex Da Kid, BBC Radio 1s Zane Lowe, a Chemical Brother and many, many more.

The result is a smorgasbord of different sounds and styles that jumps from euphoric euro dance riffs to southern style trap tracks with remarkable ease.

Lyrically, it appears Demonstration has enabled Okogwu to spread his wings somewhat. For examples, the Zane Low produced 5Minutes sees him turn his hand to singing, while over the samba-esque beats of Witch Doctor we hear a more relaxed flow and rhyme scheme, making this Alex Da Kid produced effort the album’s standout track.

Despite trying out a few new vocal directions, Okogwu’s rapping has lost none of the clarity and edginess that you can hear on his early material including ‘Wifey’ and ‘Tears’. Indeed, it seems that his musical upbringing within London’s underground grime scene is something that still plays a big part in his output and performances today.

“Coming from that scene there was no real rules,” he recalls. “I feel like I always try to maintain that in the music. No matter what kind of tune it is, whether it’s a fast one or a slow one, I’m still rapping on it. So I feel like all those core elements I’ve definitely retained, but it’s just the ambition is just so much more, and with every next step of my career I always just challenge myself and want to push myself further and do something that I wouldn’t have before.”

We also see a slightly more mature take on things in other areas of the album. There is an overarching theme and message that digs a little deeper than we might expect with references to the struggles of today’s disenchanted youth and the way they are viewed by their elders.

“It’s by no means a political album,” says Okogwu. “But mood wise I definitely wanted to make sure you can feel the mood of that. I just feel like a lot of the generation of today are very negatively portrayed as being very celebrity obsessed, lacking ambition and it’s never positive. They’re a generation that needed speaking up for a bit and a little bit of motivation as well. As much of the album is fun and has those songs about escapism,  I just felt like pushing myself a little bit more.”

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Here is a video we made for my studios new digs.

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Here’s the vid of us appearing on Gruen Planet’s The Pitch. The brief was to create an ad that ‘restored faith in the Australian cricket team.’ we didn’t take the win but Russell gave us his vote and the man knows his ads.

Yoke on Gruen Planet from Yoke on Vimeo.

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Trap/Dub/Electro wonder kid Flume has finally released his new Infinity Prism – a new synced lighting rig which uses mirrors to give the effect of…well…infinity. Its a nice idea but Im a little underwhelmed at it to be honest. From what i see in the vid below it just a bit too small and hidden away under his set up. Sure I’ll eat my words when i see it live

Flume – Infinity Prism Tour from Toby & Pete on Vimeo.

Props to the guys for doing something new but when you look at the production of other electronic acts, you realise how high the bar is set when it comes to the visual/audio dance acts.

Amon Tobin uses visual mapping to awesome effect on his ISAM live set up.

Everyones favourite Dex FX dude Richie Hawtin has a circular curtain which he projects shit onto (looks way better than it sounds)

Etienne De Crecy got some scaffolding and hung up his bed sheets – then found he had just made his own stage light show without even realising it and quickly renamed it The Cube

Bro step bad man Skrillex hooks up motion trackers to his own arms and DJs as a giant robot – as you do.

Finally, proof that an awesome visual show just needs awesome looking visuals – Ed and Tom aka never disappoint.

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Here’s a quick review i wrote for Beat Magazine of Dragon Girls which was showing as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival. I gave it 4 and a half stars Margaret.

Dragon Girls – MIFF

Director Inigo Westmeier’s documentary Dragon Girls follows the lives of three pupils at the Shaolin Tagu Kung Fu school located next to the famous Shaolin Temple in China’s Henan province. As the country’s largest martial arts school with 35,000 pupils, this vast, bleak, industrial aged institution is centred on one thing and one thing only – at this school it is eat, sleep and train kung fu.

All the children board full time as their parents are away working and the relationships, or lack thereof, that they have with their family is just one of the themes running through this beautiful yet brutal film. Days at Shaolin Tagu start at 5am and signal the start of another relentless and ongoing physical workload of stretching, fighting, striking, leaping, jumping, running and the ongoing search to do better than you are doing – even if that is the best you can do.

In one shocking yet captivating scene, five young girls, aged around 9 or 10 sit round and compare injuries they have received from pushing their still-developing bodies to the limits. One girl talks of the ongoing pain in her knees while another lifts her sleeve to reveal a large scar running the length of her upper arm caused by the swords they use in their martial arts displays. We see starkly the cultural gulf that exists between this and the cotton wool western approach to child rearing, and are left in awe of how so much can be expected of those so young. – See more at: http://m.beat.com.au/arts/dragon-girls#sthash.MTgmjUvp.dpuf

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Proof that insults work in any language. some nice flips too

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