Entrepreneur of Girls Guide to Paris, Doni Belau has over 9 years experience providing women with the best of all things French and Paris. Continue reading “191. Doni Belau of Girls’ Guide to Paris on Product Diversity & Collaborating With Competitors”
What is Bizarre Love Triangle (BLT)? BLT is a collaboration between Julien Lapierre and myself. BLT also works with a host of other DJs, graphic designers and artists. BLT’s name pays homage to the famous 1986 song Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order, a song and style that has guided Julien and my direction for BLT.
BLT is a monthly party which offers an incredible blend of djs from different universes of musical tastes, passions and energy: underground, Berlinesque, electronic with a hint of house disco. Julien and I launched BLT in 2005 with the objective of bringing many different types and culture of people together under one unifying theme and desire: to dance, reinvent and stimulate the senses, have a good time and enjoy good music. Over the years our guests and music-lovers began referring to our Bizarre Love Triangle nights as simply BLT.
Because BLT encompasses ‘paradox,’ we (Julien and I) collaborate with venues where we can seamlessly blend underground, gothic, gay, straight, chic… together, and where no matter who you are and where you come from, everybody is equal and accepted. This is why since June 2011, BLT has collaborated with Chez Maxim, a club, restaurant and salon founded in 1893 in Paris, France and known for its history and eclectic mélange of art decor.
Each month BLT unites 1,500 et 1,600 people throughout the evening. Our largest turnout so far was 1,800 for our 8th anniversary.
BLT’s 9th anniversary is coming very quickly, and we have planned an unforgettable party.
How did you build BLT into such a large event with so may faithful fans? By treating every guest with respect and equality, and by giving memories of the night back to our guests.
For example at every BLT, photographer Thomas Smith captures the essence of the night though photos and videos. Afterwards, Julien and I carefully sort through the photos, publishing only those beautiful, chic photos which bring out the best in the people being photographed. If we’re unsure about a particular photo, we will try to identify the person in the photo and get permission beforehand, or we won’t publish it.
In addition, as another way of saying thank you for making BLT what it is, the DJs that play during the event record their set live and we make the mix freely available for download on Soundcloud.
With such a diverse collection of people and lifestyles, have you ever had an issue with security, fights, or violence? BLT’s name and branding are pretty clear about what BLT stands for and what to expect, so I think that anybody who comes to BLT knows what is in store for them. If not, door and inside security are quite competent. So no. We’ve never had any problem with homophobia or anything else. We are also very careful about who we let into our Facebook community to prevent hateful and derogatory comments.
You’re about to celebrate BLT #100. What are a few milestones? In total, BLT has had 5 location changes and has gone through several phases (ultra-select private party with only friends, disco, voguing, underground New York…) in music and artistic direction throughout the years, but BLT’s core mission and DNA hasn’t changed.
At Chez Maxim’s we have two floors with two different concepts. The top floor hosts BLT’s original concept, and the bottom floor is more underground.
There were times when Julien and I had to fight to keep BLT alive, but at no point did we consider abandoning BLT.
Today the line outside the door to BLT goes down the street, and we didn’t really realize it growing along the way. Each location had a legal occupancy limit, and once that limit was reached, we closed the doors. In fact, BLT didn’t go to Chez Maxim’s because we needed more space, Chez Maxim’s proposed a collaboration and we said yes because we liked their concept.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in my interview with entrepreneur Hervé Godard of Blake Magazine that when it comes to hosting events, the first Blake party was our one year anniversary house party, and everybody brought a bottle of champagne which we kept cool under ice in the bathtub! 80 people showed up for that party.
3 months later I hosted another Blake party for fashion week. By then so many people had talked about the first Blake party amongst themselves that bars and clubs and journalists began contacting me with offers and introducing me to even more brands and sponsors!
When faced with maximum occupancy restraints and the more people who are rejected, the more exclusive and important those denied entry assume the party, and thus brand, must be.]
We look forward to celebrating our 9th anniversary and 100th edition as well as BLT’s upcoming interactive website launch near the end of November… Yet another sincere thank to all of the people who make BLT what it is.
Could BLT continue without
you? We constantly have guest DJs coming through, but I feel that Julien and I have become key pieces because everyone knows us. We are expected to be there and I am expected to do a set at some point during the night. I have become known as the BLT DJ.
Ironically enough, most people know the name ‘Emmanuel Caurel,’ but don’t recognize or know me, so I can sit in the corner and watch.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Kevin Knight, owner of Expatriates in Paris’ interview that he manages his +18,000 online community by promoting natural leaders that emerge within the community so that he could actually walk away and the community would be able to continue on indefinitely.]
Speaking of art direction, BLT consistently uses stunning imagery and videos to promote each event. Tell me about BLT’s branding and marketing strategy. Just like no DJ’s music set is ever the same, every BLT event has its own concept, direction and idea. Some strategies obviously have worked better than others. I keep an archive of my ideas and BLT event promotions on my instagram account.
Concerning the BLT events themselves, all photos are taken by Thomas Smith and mostly in black in white, and the very best are shared onto the BLT Facebook page. The quality of the photos alone account for a large majority of BLT’s exposure and people are proud to use the photos as their profile photo and tag themselves in them. Followed by word-of-mouth and further social media sharing.
Concerning each BLT event communications, flyers are shared on social media, sent to our email database and mailed directly to VIP guests through the post office.
All images and videos leading up to each event change with each event and we challenge the art directors we work with to ensure that each communication is innovative and provocative, and each communication includes BLT’s next event date.
We always request permission with the artist to ensure we have authorization on any images and videos we use. Some artists even give us video rushes.
Concerning BLT’s communication and marketing strategy, to keep our updates fresh and our followers aware of upcoming BLT events. Each event communication sequence typically looks something like this:
- Event Calendar: NEXT BLT PARTY #99: SATURDAY (DATE) AT MAXIM’S DE PARIS
- Update: “DAY -5.
BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE #99. BRACE YOURSELVES FOR YET ANOTHER BLT THIS SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“DAY -3. SAVE YOUR EVENING. BLT IS COMING”
- Update: “GUEST LIST FULL!” (depending on responses)
GET READY! BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE!″
- Update: “DAY -0.”
- Event: BLT #99.
- Next day: Upload photos, respond to comments, photos and videos.
- 2 days later: Thank you flyer
NEXT BLT PARTY #100: SATURDAY (DATE) AT MAXIM’S DE PARIS
I’m a brand and I want to sponsor/collaborate with BLT… Plenty of sponsors contact us, and we will keep BLT true to its identity and remain close with our fans. Ideal sponsors would understand that BLT parties are successful because they are BLT parties, and brands would be received and welcomed by BLT as guests, not as commercialization opportunities. We want our people to come to feel at home – like a second house. Money isn’t the issue.
For example, on February 13, 2015 Bazarre Love Triangle partnered with Têtu for an extraordinay night. Here is the video we released advertising the event:
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in my interview with Hervé Godard, Editor-in-Chief of Blake Magazine that he actively networks and seeks sponsors for branded events. This allows him to offer ‘open bar’ and gift bags to all of his guests; a win-win-win-win situation for Blake Magazine, the sponsors, the party venue and the guests.]
What is the future of BLT? We have been asked to expand BLT into other countries: London, Tel Aviv, Italy; something Julien and I will think about.
Also, BLT’s upcoming interactive website will launch near the end of November… Yet another sincere thank to all of the people who make BLT what it is.
Strategic Planner for Brand Union and one of the co-creators of Distilleurs.fr, Nicolas Minisini has +6 experience seeking, compiling and interpreting information about his client’s industries to better understand their target consumer demographic and how the brand can best reach them. Continue reading “151. Nicolas Minisini of Brand Union on Branding, Whiskey & Epicurean Culture”
How does your job fit into the advertising process? As an account manager, I manage and advise our client’s communication strategies, specifically as it pertains to the advertising industry: print, billboard, television, radio, and digital.
I work with a team of professionals to interpret and analyze the client’s demands and needs and then work with them to determine the best way to reach their objectives and engage their target consumer. But the more agency-side people that attend meetings, the more costly the campaign can become. Therefore I am the direct link between the advertising agency and the client, which allows our advertising-side people (Creatives, Strategic Planners and Producers…) to concentrate on the work where they will be most profitable and useful to our clients.
Can you give an example? L’Équipe is #1 in sports news coverage in France. They have a magazine, a newspaper, and L’Équipe 21: a free television channel.
While L’Équipe’s newspaper is famous and every Frenchman knows it or has heard of it, but their free television channel is different because they cover the less mainstream sports such as mountain biking, handball, volleyball…
so L’Équipe’s TV channel has the credibility of the L’Equipe brand name but doesn’t have the same content, which puts it into difficulty compared to ther other paid sports channels.
So I work with L’Équipe 21 to ensure consumers see the positive side of the channel: the fact that it shows less popular sports, not like all the other channels who only air the mainstream sports matches. The challenge for the channel is to show its wealth of programming and range of sports it offers its viewers.
Media-use has changed since the internet; consumers don’t use the newspaper as before.
21 has perhaps 1-200,000 viewers per day. I work with L’Équipe
to increase consumer use of their free content and increase conversion of their paid content.
What questions do you ask new clients to understand their communication strategy? First I start with the basics, at DDB we believe that “The truth is in your product;” in your unique selling proposition (USP) or benefit.
Most brands have already identified their USP and product truth, or at least have an idea of what they think it could be. If as an entrepreneur you don’t even know what you think your USP is, you’re in trouble.
Secondly, we believe in identifying insights into what people do and think. Therefore the first thing I do is find the intersection between the truth about your product and the truth about your market. At this intersection there usually lies a problem the brand wants to solve. This problem could be anything from:
- Image – your brand has a bad reputation in the consumer’s eyes
- Notoriety – your brand isn’t well known to your consumer demographic
- Product weakness – your brand is seen as inferior or not worth owning
- Competitive weakness – your brand is operating at a disadvantage compared to your competitors
Do you distinguish between brand truth and product truth? Yes. Brand truth is your brand’s history and identity, while your product truth is a part of your brand. When I first sit down with a brand I need to identify whether the brand is trying to solve a brand truth or a product truth problem. It isn’t until we evaluate the brand’s market and find that intersection that we know where the problem lies and what needs to be done. Most of the time, this process requires the expertise of strategic planners.
Once you’ve identified the problem at the intersection between the brand and the market, what techniques do you use to solve it? If the problem is a product truth to the market fit: then the problem is likely that your target consumer isn’t aware you exist or aren’t aware of why your product would be beneficial to them. That being the problem, we would work on a campaign to educate the target consumer and showcase the benefit of your product.
Volkswagen’s “It’s ugly but it gets you there” advertisement was an excellent way of humorously acknowledging the truth about their product’s design that everyone thought while pointing to the brand’s promise of reliability.
If the problem is a brand truth to the market fit: then the problem is likely the target consumer isn’t aware of the brand history, meaning, signification, that the brand isn’t liked, is hated, or has bad publicity or press, etc. Then you have to work on the brand image to change public perception.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Art Director Julien Herrison’s interview that there are many different techniques advertisers use to differentiate your brand from your competitors. For example, you can create your very own unique selling proposition (USP) by focusing your advertising around your brand’s:
- Product/Brand name
- Physical characteristics
- How your product is eaten or used
- How your product is made
- Key ingredients
- Product lifespan
- Already existing advertising
- Your consumer
- You, the owner or your staff
These approaches and techniques won’t always lead you to the best advertising campaign, but they definitely get you thinking about all the possible solutions and gets your mind wandering; which is crucial to the idea brainstorming process.]
For example, the commercial real estate market often has a bad perception because the agents selling the real-estate often have low diplomas or lack formal training, and earn their living taking you around to visit homes and taking a commission from each sale.
So a real-estate agent’s objective could address this perception by showing that their real-estate agents are highly trained professionals who work hard and do the dirty work to reassure that home buyers are getting the best deal possible at the best price. But the problem is both a brand and a market perception because on the market side the problem is that the real estate industry is unique because buyers don’t usually choose the agent, but rather they choose the house and then deal with whichever agent happens to be in charge of selling that house.
For another example, in 2011 a man died from food poisoning after eating at a Quick restaurant in France. Despite all their advertising and communications efforts to address the negative hygiene problem, consumers don’t seem to be convinced; which adds to one of the reasons why the Quick brand is dying. You cannot come back from something like that, and as a result is currently in talks with Burger King to sell its 509 restaurants.
What are a few misconceptions brands commonly have about advertising?One common question is that professional agencies are too expensive. Agencies are professional because of their ability to consistently identify and solve problems. This means that operating costs for agencies are heavy to cover the materials, the research, the expertise… but you get what you pay for.
Anyone can get lucky once or twice; professionals consistently and successfully solve clients problems.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on how to qualify freelancers and professionals, refer to the book How to Shape Human Behavior (2nd Edition).]
Another concern is time: “Why does it take so long?” In short, because agencies have processes in place to ensure that our answer to your brand’s problem and objectives is comprehensive and correctly identifies the correct problem, and that the solution we propose meets your objective(s).
A third misconception is that advertisements should be all inclusive: contain the price, legal disclaimers, exhaustive product details, and every unique selling proposition crammed into one advert complete with large font, a big logo, and pack shots (photos of the product itself), etc..
But forcing all of that into one ad isn’t getting your money’s worth; in fact, quite the opposite occurs:
The more you put into an advertisement, the less the target consumer notices it and takes away from your advertising that one important message you want to communicate. One ad, one message. No more.
What are a few campaigns you have worked on?
The newest L’Équipe
launching announcing it’s new smaller size. Readers have loved the original version because of it’s unconventionally large size. So the strategy for making the publication smaller we needed to reassure consumers that even though the new
will be smaller, it is still as large as before. So we showed how despite its new size it’s still the biggest sports newspaper in France.
The above advertisement was for Honda’s The Centaur.
What was crazy about this project was that Honda had it’s custom message and logo etched into the sand at the starting line of one of the races. The helicopter covering the race filmed the start of the race as 1,200 racers rode over the message. Altogether, Honda’s message was viewed by over 10 million people watching the race live, on television, in the news and on blogs. This campaign won a Silver Lion in the film category in 2013.
I have a small advertising budget, any advice? Do a stunt that will get news, and invite journalists and bloggers. On a limited budget, you need to concentrate your time and money and message to reach one key target consumer with one idea. Be shocking. Not just with sex or violence, shocking regarding common beliefs with your market and competitors and consumers. What would your consumers find shocking? Do that. Shock them.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: In our interview, Sr Vice Present of Campaigns Dan Mathews agrees that shock and provocation are useful techniques, and agrees not simply shock and provocation for the sake of shock and provocation; strategic shock and provocation. Do something that goes against the social norms of your target audience or your market and that will touch the heart of your target audience and shake things up.]