London, we have lift-off
Having criticised Bob Geldof’s plans for Live8, Damon Albarn has found an African-flavoured arts festival that is much more his cup of organic coffee. Tomorrow Albarn will climb aboard one of the pods of the London Eye to give an exclusive performance to an audience of no more than 20. During the half hour the capsule takes to complete a single revolution, the Blur singer has agreed to perform songs “inspired by visions of Africa” in order to raise money for the fair-trade hot drinks company Cafédirect.
In other capsules, ticketholders will get close-up concerts from Beth Orton and Turin Brakes or an intimate performance from actors with the Royal Court Theatre or a stand-up routine from comedian Jo Brand. In total, 96 performances will take place for the lucky 2,000 people who obtained the £21 tickets.
The extraordinary event, called Flight 5065, has been three months in the planning and – as well as breaking new ground in the arts – could revolutionise British marketing. Rather than using traditional advertising platforms, Cafédirect is attempting to market its brand through live performance, creating a buzz through word of mouth. Robin Smith, creative director of the advertising agency Host, which planned Flight 5065 for cafédirect, says: “This would have made a good television commercial but we wouldn’t have had any money to air it. We are creating a new media platform for Cafédirect, which works with 250,000 growers in 11 countries, enjoying considerable goodwill from celebrity supporters. Nonetheless, Cafédirect it is a commercial organisation that needs to convince consumers that they are getting a high-quality product for what is a premium price.
The event was modestly advertised through the London Calling flyer distribution outfit and emails from Ticketweb. Three ads were placed in The Independent, showing a digitally created image of Madonna as a coffee grower, which in turn generated editorial coverage in the Daily Mirror. The concept for Flight 5065 grew out of an earlier cafédirect project – also devised by Host – called The Lift, in which “audiences” were invited to step into a steel box, the size of a standard elevator, and be entertained by performance artists. The project, initially staged on Brighton beach, was transferred to the Edinburgh festival, where it was critically acclaimed.
From an article by Ian Burrell, The Independent
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