• Leadimage
Opinion

Opinion: Alicia Keys, musician, role model and global creative director? Sheesh

Posted by Rob Alderson,

This week editor Rob Alderson looks at Blackberry’s decision to hire Alicia Keys as global creative director and what message that sends to designers everywhere. As usual come join the debate on the thread below…

I’ve started coming to work on a spacehopper. Oh, I know there’s far more practical, effective and less time-consuming ways to commute but I discovered that I get LOADS of attention when I bounce over London Bridge and through the financial district form jaded workers clearly thrilled to see something so silly.

Of course I don’t really do this, primarily because I’m not a moron. And yet this kind of nonsense now seems _de rigeur _for various technology companies who seem to believe that financial salvation will come via hiring a popular musician as their creative directors. The latest firm to jump on this bizarre bandwagon was Blackberry who announced Alicia Keys as their new global creative director last week. The company was following in the footsteps of Polaroid, Intel and Microsoft who have pulled similar stunts with Lady Gaga, Will.i.am and Jessica Alba respectively.

Blackberry President and CEO Thorsten Heins said: “We are excited she will be bringing to us her enormous capabilities, as well as a vast network of relationships in the entertainment, social media and business communities, to help shape our brand and grow our business.” According to DAWN.com: “In her new role, Keys will work closely with app developers, content creators, retailers, carriers and the entertainment community to further shape and enhance the BlackBerry 10 platform, and inspire creative use through its remarkable capabilities and functionality. From music to books, to film, to apps, Keys will lead the charge of enhancing entertainment consumption and distribution, through the power of BlackBerry 10.”

It’s hardly surpising that so many creative industry types were riled by Blackberry’s announcement. Firstly it belittles the skills and experiences that talented creatives spend years amassing. I wonder how Alicia would have felt if a graphic designer turned up before the Super Bowl on Sunday night determined to replace her singing the national anthem?

Secondly what effect will these kind of decisions have on tech companies’ in-house design teams? If it’s just a PR stunt then why not basically say that, rather than pretending that these musicians are going to be massively hands-on? Because if not, if the reality is that Alicia will be helping shape Blackberry’s creative strategy, then what message does this send to the existing staff? Work hard, get your head down and do a bit of networking and you might make senior management, unless of course Marvin from JLS unexpectedly becomes available…

comments powered by Disqus
Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. List

    It’s fast approaching the time of all-nighters (not the fun ones), tears, last-minute panics and all the other things that come with the end of learning and the impending beginning of the terrifying thing they call real life. But like the mum that tells you you’re always the best and most talented and most beautiful, or the best friend that bursts into your house and pops the kettle on/pours the gin, we’re here to remind you of some of the advice that might be able to help you.

  2. Stevedaniels-hero-list

    There is an awful lot of discussion around starting a new magazine and for many creatively inclined people it remains one of their foremost ambitions. Last week Makeshift founder Steve Daniels wrote an excellent blog about the things to consider when planning a new publication, and in doing so summed up many things we too feel are important. Steve’s now become an advisor to the title he founded, a move which maybe gives him a little extra distance to write “not a guide to the nuts and bolts of finding a printer and selling subscriptions but a contemplation of the major elements that will set you up for success.”

  3. Kingadz-autenticity-list

    In the branding and advertising world, authenticity seems to have become the Holy Grail. Seemingly melded to whatever people need it to convey, it’s become a buzzword whose significance has mushroomed while its meaning has all but vanished. With this in mind King Adz, aka Adam N. Stone – whose new book Unbrandable is out this summer – considers what authenticity really means in a contemporary creative context. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  4. Kinfolk_14.cover

    The latest issue of Gym Class magazine has an eye-catching cover; with bold block capitals on a black background spelling out: “Nobody cares about your oh-so-cool, Kickstarted, tactile, minimalist unoriginal magazine.” It’s intended as a “call to action,” Gym Class editor Steven Gregor told MagCulture, “make magazines, and make them exceptional.”

  5. Applewtach-list-int

    The Apple Watch was officially unveiled yesterday (as was a super-thin 13.1mm new MacBook) and as ever the internet is awash with run-downs and reactions slobbering over the new products. For Wolff Olins design director Jan Eumann though, the imminent arrival of the new timepiece got him thinking about logo design, and in particular how app buttons have rehabilitated the logo. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  6. Rod-hunt-int-hero

    Do you really need an agent? Why? What do they actually do? In a talk hosted by The Illustrator’s Guild of Ireland at this year’s Offset festival a panel featuring Peepshow Collective’s Andrew Rae and Chrissie Macdonald, illustrators Rod Hunt and Matthew Griffin and Bernstein & Andriulli agent Sam Summerskill, we heard about how best to go about finding an agent, what they look for and what they get up to. Here’s what we learnt…

  7. Opinion-int-list

    After visiting the Design Indaba conference in South Africa, Rob Alderson asks if the leading designers working today favour humility and modesty over the cloying over-confidence of their predecessors. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  8. Opinion-davidpearson-int-list

    Last week an interesting Twitter debate sprang up after a comment by graphic designer Andy Pressman who admitted that on a recent series he worked on it wasn’t always possible to read the books before designing the covers. So we decided to speak to a few other book cover designers and find out where they stand on this apparently quite divisive design issue; as ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  9. Marckremers-opinion-int-list

    As part of the digital design showcase we are running with Represent, we interviewed Marc Kremers and found him in an unflinching mood as he detailed some of the issues he felt were affecting the industry. Such was the reaction to Marc’s piece both on the microsite and social media, we have decided (with his permission) to republish an excerpt of his interview here. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, and check out the dedicated digital design showcase here.

  10. Ije-nwokorie-indaba-sun

    As CEO of Wolff Olins, Ije Nwokorie is well-versed in the creative landscape; the forces that shape it and in turn how it shapes our world. Describing himself as “born in the US, bred in Nigeria and enlightened in England” he also has a global sensibility that sets him apart from many of his peers.

  11. Opinion-int-list

    A new survey has identified what clients see as the four worst types of design agency, and Rob Alderson suggests we should listen to what they had to say. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below..

  12. Robertbye-opinion-list

    The intern debate is still one of the most talked-about issues whenever we meet young designers. This week Robert Bye wrote an interesting article about why, after three months interning in a design consultancy, he believes doing crappy jobs did sometimes make sense.

  13. List

    Assistant editor Maisie Skidmore chimes in on the debate about the presence of full-frontal male nudity in Rick Owens’ AW15 collection which showed in Paris a few days ago. Do you think penises on the catwalk are a step too far? Leave your comments below!