• 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. Sm_lcc_invite_itsnicethat-list

    The days of beers in the park and ice lollies at lunchtime are nearly upon us, and with that comes degree shows, and lots of them. But who should be charged with designing the identity for a university degree show – should it be the students, or an external agency? Indeed, do degree shows need identities at all? We want to hear from you; you can add your thoughts to the comments section below.

  2. Marcel-ingloriousfruits-itsnicethat-list

    After the Design Museum names its six category winners for the 2015 Designs of the Year, Rob Alderson argues that the victor in the graphics section is a very worthy winner. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  3. List

    Ben Tallon’s new book explores the difficult transition to going freelance which many in the creative world make, and by which many more are tempted. To mark the publication of Champagne and Wax Crayons Ben has written a piece about how he found taking that giant leap. You can add your thoughts below…

  4. Grayson-perrys-dream-hous-007-list

    A few years ago, you wouldn’t have expected Channel Four to show a documentary about a cross-dressing artist making a house in Essex on a Sunday evening. But that’s the magic of Grayson Perry: there’s no such thing as low and high culture, no such thing as people not being “into” art, no such thing as stereotypes.

  5. List_sarah_lucas_i_scream_daddio_its_nice_that_

    One of my favourite exhibitions of the last few years was Sarah Lucas’ Whitechapel show, described by The Guardian as “Breasts, bums, blokes and their bits.” Naturally, I was thrilled when Sarah was announced as the artist creating the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Like the work of Jeremy Deller, the artist chosen in 2013, Sarah’s art can be messy and funny and fearless. It’s hard to make sense of, and big issues are frequently masked with a wry humour. Britain could be said to be the same; for all our perceived stuffiness, as a nation there’s a gloriously dishevelled side – a bold sense of “why the fuck not,” experimentation and our famed eccentricity which has made such a small place such a big deal when it comes to creativity.

  6. Oliviacharlesworth-itsnicethat-1

    At a time when debates surrounding art and design education and the way they prepare students for the creative industries are intensifying, Kingston University tutor Zelda Malan explains why it’s still so important that creative courses continue to teach ideas. You can add your thoughts using the comments thread below…

  7. Marianbantjes-designawards-itsnicethat-list

    It’s design award season (like the film world equivalent but fewer red carpets and more pictures of people staring at posters) and as ever the winners will be much discussed across the creative industries. But genuinely useful advice for those who enter has been thin on the ground, until now. Having relaunched her website, the brilliant Marian Bantjes has also started a new blog (huzzah!) and recently wrote a series of tips for those designers putting their work up for awards, based on her extensive experience as a judge. You can add comments below, or just soak up the wisdom…

  8. Newswall-itsnicethat-list

    Yesterday saw the launch of a brand new form of news presentation by Channel 4 in 4NewsWall – a Tumblr-hosted website dedicated to the day’s top news stories, listed chronologically, with each presented by a GIF. Thought up by 4Creative’s Jack Croft and Stacey Bird and developed by the creative team, it’s flashy, image-led and uncluttered – with each GIF offering a click-through button to a more detailed report – and looks set to be an interesting and exciting progression for news journalism.

  9. Graphicdesign_-opinion-itsnicethat-list

    A couple of months ago there was a lot of interest in this survey in which clients described the four worst types of creative agencies as they saw it. Now we have a chance to hear from the practitioners themselves, by way of Graphicdesign&’s in-depth industry study. Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright have partnered with social scientist Nikandre Kopcke to create a questionnaire which explores “practice, perceptions and prejudices alongside the usual questions about age, education, work and pay.”

  10. 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.

  11. 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.”

  12. 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…

  13. 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.”