June 6, 2006
A Timely Honor for Blue Man Group
By Lewis Lazare
After eight years of wooing big crowds in Chicago, it's safe to say the Blue Man Group has pretty much established itself as something akin to a cultural institution in this city. But the impact of the Blue Man brand now extends well beyond Chicago and, yes, even the United States, as evidenced by an extravaganza last week in the Swiss town of Lugano.
There a trio of Blue Men were the guests of honor to create a limited-edition Swatch watch that soon will be marketed as the signature product in a new line of Jelly in Jelly timepieces. The Blue Men horological creation was the centerpiece of a larger celebration in Lugano called "Splashtival," which Swatch mounted to pay tribute to the production last month of the company's 333-millionth watch. Swatch's new Jelly in Jelly line, hitting stores this month, is intended to reconnect Swatch with the world of arts and culture, with which it had a high-profile attachment in the 1980s. For a while, Swatch was famous for creating watches linked with high-profile artists, including movie man Spike Lee, the late visual artist Keith Haring and fashion icons such as Vivienne Westwood and Paco Rabanne.
June 3, 2006
Blue Men Make Splash in Swiss Town
The Blue Man group help make a splash at a small Swiss town, with a celebration of music, art and colour.
The quiet, picturesque town of Lugano in Switzerland was transformed into a backdrop of music, light and colour on Thursday (June 2). 10,000 people were treated to a live concert by the Blue Man Group, followed by a spectacular laser show and fireworks display on the lake by which the town sits.
The 'Splashtival', hosted by model and presenter Michelle Hunziker, was being held by watch manufacturer, Swatch, to celebrate the production of the company's 333 millionth watch.
The Blue Man Group were brought in to create the new 'live' design for the 333 millionth piece. The group created the design, not only while performing, but with the performance itself. A giant blank watch template was held over the artists during their frenetic 'paint drumming' routine, where they beat on drums covered with wet paint. The resulting splashes of colourful patterns on the blank canvass were used for the new watch design.
The artists said the live design provided an interesting new form for the group to work with.
"One thing that's so cool about this experience is that it's sort of the world's smallest canvass y'know. It's a great medium to create in," said Phil Stanton, one of the co-founder's of the Blue Man Group.
Stanton added it was an exciting idea for the group to blend design with live performance art.
"We actually don't even consider ourselves designers but what we are is-- we're creators of experiences and the design of this watch is capturing the moment of one of those experiences," he said.
Swatch's commemorative Art Special design by the Blue Man Group will be produced in a limited edition of 3,333 watches.
May 15, 2006
Blue Man Marks Time for Swatch
By Michael Paoletta
It's early May, and Blue Man Group co-founder Chris Wink is at the trio's recording complex in the East Village putting the finishing touches on three 15-minute, behind-the-scenes segments for PBS' fast-approaching fund-raising drive. Time is of the essence.
Time, or at least the keeping of it, will figure prominently into the Blue Man Group's coming year. On June 1, Swatch will launch its new Jelly in Jelly product line with a celebration in the Piazza della Riforma in Lugano, Switzerland. The Blue Man Group's likeness and music figure heavily into Jelly in Jelly's multiplatform, multiyear marketing campaign, encompassing print, TV and online.
Blue Man Group does not endorse many products, and when it does, it typically seeks arrangements that direct consumers to the act's music or experiences. Talks are on with Swatch to cross-promote Blue Man Group's upcoming, self-released album, "Live at the Venetian Las Vegas," due June 27, on sale exclusively at the iTunes Music Store.
"It felt right," Wink says of the Swatch partnership. "The pop art thing -- that whole aesthetic -- Swatch gets it."
It helped that Swatch fits nicely within the Blue Man approach to endorsements by cuing in on aesthetics near and dear to the group -- specifically, paint drumming, the group's signature sessions of pounding paint-covered drums. "Swatch wanted to express (paint drumming's) joy and explosive color across the entire campaign."
As part of its deal with Swatch, Blue Man Group (which also includes co-founders Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton) will also perform at the June 1 event and design two watches for the line: a mass-produced version and a limited edition. The latter's design will be inspired by a canvas painting the group will create during its live set in Lugano.
In 2000, Intel tapped Blue Man Group for a handful of TV spots. It was the group's first brand partnership, Wink notes. "For us, the deal breaker was having us identified in the spots."
Blue Man Group Records GM Seth Freed says the Intel campaign opened the minds of the three Blue men to other branding opportunities. "For years, they were apprehensive about exploiting their image and music," he says. "But they saw that with the right partnership the benefits are many."
Wink credits the Intel spots with increased sales of the act's two CDs (1999's "Audio" on Virgin and 2003's "The Complex" on Lava), a sold-out rock tour and the need to move Blue Man Group's daily Las Vegas show, on since 2000, into a larger room.
The Intel ads also "sent a good message to Hollywood," Wink adds. In 2004, Blue Man Group scored its first TV show, "The Jury." The following year, the trio collaborated with John Powell on the film score for "Robots." These days, the group is composing music for an action-adventure game, due next year, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
"Today, you need more than one impression," Wink says. "Sure, we're involved in branding their product, but they're helping to build our identity. The whole point of getting yourself out here is so the right people can find you."