Becoming Kanye

It’s funny how ideas come together. I’ve been slowly making my through Grant McCracken’s book Transformation. This morning on the train, I came to his section on the post-modern transformation of man, in particular on the absorption of hip hop culture into the wider mainstream (read: non-African American.) The chapter coincided with Absolut’s viral campaign feature a KW pill that turns you into Kanye West, entitled “Be Kanye,” which I first noticed it as a guerilla ad on the subway.

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The tension between the authentic and the simulated is a major theme of his book. Here, the transformation and exchange is at its most literal, take a pill and physically turn into West. Instead of “being like Mike” (or West) the transformation is complete and actual. The amazing part is that obviousness of the gesture, instead of the usual implied subtext that Rob Walker discusses, the promise of transformation IS the text. Their only gesture to veil the promise is through the parody of an informercial, there is not real pill, just drink Absolut. I wonder how much further would a marketing campaign take the suggestion of the literal transformation.

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3 Responses to Becoming Kanye

  1. richard says:

    hi rae:

    just found the link to your site. this looks beautiful – so crisp and clean. later…r

  2. Mark H. says:

    When I saw the Kanye ad on the subway last week I laughed – Absolut Vodka is clearly going after a new demographic. And it’s always fun to see advertising that makes fun of advertising even as it openly and shamelessly manipulates the consumer, who plays along. Well maybe. So Ray, how many people (besides you, me and some ad pundits) went to

  3. Ray says:

    Yes, it seems very insider-y to me. The “normal” people (on the industry) who I’ve talked to have no idea who is behind it and are a little confused by it. I guess that is partially the intention. If they wanted a major break away from their iconic bottle shot ads, they have succeeded.

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