GRAVANITY

As Warhol predicted with "15 minutes of fame", hundreds of millions of individuals are craving immortality, or at least some public attention. Whether it’s blogging, participating in Big Brother, having a character in a novel named after you, or adorning your car with personalized license plates, the masses want their names out there. This is where graffiti meets vanity to form GRAVANITY: an entire industry catering to the obsession of ordinary citizens wanting to leave ‘something’ behind in print, audio or imagery, preferably in the public domain. Consider it a 21st century version of university libraries and hospital wings being named after the rich ruling classes.

GRAVANITY offers a host of opportunities for entrepreneurs willing to (re)name their goods and services, however small, on behalf of eager customers. TRENDWATCHING.COM predicts museums selling sponsorships of even the smallest works of arts (or just the frames!), theatres offering GRAVANITY space on each seat, real estate developers auctioning off the rights to have apartment buildings and lobbies adorned with the names of middle-class families, and Domino’s introducing pizzas named after cash-rich, attention-poor pizza lovers who will reveal their favourite toppings to the world. If it can have a name attached to or printed on it, it WILL sell! >> Email this trend to a friend.

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JUNE 2003 | This is where graffiti meets vanity: catering to the obsession of hundreds of millions of individuals who secretly dream of immortality, or at least some public attention. Something the Dutch postal service (TPG Post) apparently understands very well: they came up with what must be the ultimate GRAVANITY service; the ability to create your OWN stamps, using a picture or photograph of your own choice, valid on everything from postcards and letters to brochures and packages. Think mug shots, baby pics or family portraits: in the end it's all about YOU.

How it works: on the TPG website, customers access the dedicated 'my stamp' application. A minimum order for 10 stamps will set you back about 12 euros (about US$14). After selecting a suitable decoration and uploading your photo of choice, you fill in your address and payment details, and a set of GRAVANITY stamps is on its way.

The pay-off? For consumers and businesses, this means a unique and eye-catching promotional tool. For postal companies around the world, this may mean juicy revenues in a market severely harassed by email and other digital dangers. >> Email this trend to a friend.

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AUGUST 2003
| To the growing list of purveyors of GRAVANITY services, add US-based MyOwnLabels.com and British designer Anya Hindmarch's Be a Bag.

At MyOwnLabels.com, you can order short-run custom labels, personalized with your own words. From private usage (homemade products to wedding and CD labels) to small business (farms, wineries, cottage industries), it lets you create professional looking labels that are all about YOU.

Be a Bag is a stylish and celeb-loaded affair, allowing you to print a photo of choice onto a variety of (expensive) bags. Launched in 2001 as a charitable promotion, with the support of over a hundred style icons from Claudia Schiffer to Boy George, Be a Bag has brought GRAVANITY to thousands of customers across the globe.

< "Be a Bag" starring (in this example) a very young Claudia Schiffer. Could've been your face on this tote.


And for a twist on GRAVANITY we can only describe as LOGOVANITY, check out Jim, one of the Dutch 'Idols' (yes, the Idols show is a big hit from Poland to South Africa), who's proudly showing and selling off his name in true 'Mars' style.

While selling 'Jim' billboards and t-shirts was a massive success in a country where the final episode of Idols was watched by over a third of the entire viewing population (!), we suspect (if not fear) that Mars could have made millions more by offering scores of LOGOVANITY-struck consumers their own name emblazoned in corporate Mars style. In fact, turning everyone around the world into Human Mars Bars, from Arnold to Li to Fatima, may well become the next big thing in marketing stunts. More examples in September!

Logos and fonts suited for LOGOVANITY definitely include Google, Coke, Heineken, Nike and other global stars. Need some insights in how to make and merchandise such personalized garments? Check out Neighborhoodies, who have already nailed mass customization for local vanity. >> Email this trend to a friend.










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SEPTEMBER 2003
| Remember personalized stamps? TRENDWATCHING.COM just got its own, and we're HAPPY. Now let's see what other branding-obsessed companies will succumb to this very cool example of CORPORATE GRAVANITY!

And one more: first we brought you the Human Mars Bar, now we bring you true LOGOVANITY, executed to the nines: the Honig apron, personalized with a chef's own name, in corporate Honig style (Honig is a Heinz-owned brand selling instant soups, meal enhancers, etc). There's even a Top 20 of most popular apron names: with 'Oma' (Dutch for 'Granny') occupying number one. Want one? For now, it's only for Dutchies, but LOGOVANITY is too much fun (and too much of a great branding tool) to be ignored by other, international B2C brands. >> Email this trend to a friend.



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OCTOBER 2003
| This month's winner in our GRAVANITY trend category: Sony's EyeToy.

A small camera that sits on a TV set and plugs into a Playstation2, EyeToy projects users' images on the screen in the center of the action. In other words, the main character will be YOU, fending off your enemies with Kung Fu kicks, or dancing to the music, following on-screen instructions. In the end, it's all about you, you and you! Check out the visuals to get a feel for what may be the next Twister, high-tech style.

OPPORTUNITIES
To turn EyeToy into a true GRAVANITY item, may we humbly suggest that Sony hooks up with Ebay and starts auctioning off rights for individuals to appear in other participants' games, worldwide, for an hour, a day, or even a year?
TRENDWATCHING.COM suspects there are masses of people out there who are willing to pay for the exposure. It all comes back to Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame, and smart applications like EyeToy make it easier than ever to capitalize on that! >> Email this trend to a friend.

RELATED TRENDS AND NEW BUSINESS IDEAS:
1. Is your brand truly everywhere?
2. Apple's iSight camera


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JANUARY 2005
| Status, which consumers crave more than almost anything else, is at the core of our 'new luxury' MASSCLUSIVITY trend. But if the luxury market is one way to provide consumers with status, GRAVANITY is another. There is no end to consumers' secret (and not so secret) vanities, and thanks to fresh marketing thinking combined with newly affordable printing, publishing and broadcasting technologies, a whole new breed of Warholian services has sprung up. Check out our latest GRAVANITY spottings, from around the world:



Mondanité
Mere mortals love to gawk at the bold and the beautiful: think society pages, celeb parties, glamour pics. No wonder then, that Lebanese magazine Mondanité (published in French) is so popular: it is solely dedicated to glam parties attended by living-it-up, dressed-to-the-nines party goers. The GRAVANITY twist? All the parties covered take place in Beirut, and the people in the pictures are NOT international sports heroes or local movie stars, but rather all of the Lebanese people that are part of the considerable 'It' scene. Each issue's pages are packed with pictures of Beirut's finest as they drink, dance, prance, meet and network. Think contractors, businessmen, heirs and descendants of family dynasties, politicians (and all of their partners and kids).

Naturally, this broad coverage dramatically increases chances for any GRAVANITY-stricken Lebanese to appear in a real glossy. The mag has a healthy circulation: not in the least because the hundreds of featured 'stars' happily buy multiple copies to distribute amongst friends and family. The opportunity? Well, show us one city where a GRAVANITY glossy for the masses would NOT work! (Source: Red Cell Beirut, Springspotters.com.)






Personalized M&Ms
When M&Ms introduced customized candy a few years ago, enabling consumers, businesses, universities and any organization crazy about its personal corporate colors to mix and match M&Ms colors to form the perfect gift, promotional material or office-treat, TRENDWATCHING.COM thought it was an excellent example of mass customization. Now, adding a hefty dose of GRAVANITY, M&Ms also allows consumers to personalize the actual texts on the chocolate candies, with two lines of up to 8 characters each.



Everybody's happy: consumers and companies because they can have their own personal, branded sweets; M&Ms because it can charge USD 9.49 (EUR 7.50 / GBP 5.25) for an 8oz bag (a non-personalized bag sells for only USD 2.85). Lesson to be learned? If M&Ms can infuse its commodities with a splash of GRAVANITY, so can your company!





SMS Guerilla Projector
Troika, a London-based collective of artists and designers, have created the SMS Guerilla Projector. The device delivers instant GRAVANITY by letting individuals and companies project SMS messages on anything with a smooth surface, from buildings to signs. Thanks to the global ubiquity of texting, seeing one's name or brand up in lights has never been easier (or more networked!).





B-on-GO
Avid readers of our other newsletter, Springwise New Business Ideas, may recognize this one: South African B-on-GO Net. Launched in February 2004 by M-Net, B-on-GO was the first incarnation of M-Net's idea to combine cell phone-activated TV cameras, the SMS/texting platform, a dedicated interactive website, and an entertainment twist on POP-UP RETAIL and GRAVANITY, to produce reality TV content by and for the masses. Unlike most reality shows, no application process or contest was used to screen B-on-GO hopefuls. Remote mobile studios popped up in shopping malls, and anyone was welcome to step inside and "do their thing" for a chance at instant stardom. Special technology allowed entrants to dial a number from their cell phone to activate the TV cameras, and then a live M-Net director remotely guided them through the process of recording their clip on the spot.

Stats from the first show identified the youth demo as the primary market, so M-Net now airs the broadcasts on their existing youth channel, GO. Five half-hour themed episodes are broadcast daily, and the website now includes expanded content and interactive capabilities. Why bother with Big Brother if you can have Big Everybody?





Soapshow
Prefer soap shows over reality TV? Then check out this case of GRAVANITY par excellence from The Netherlands: Soapshow, a multimedia concoction that enables any needy individual to create his or her own soap series, for all the world to see. Users create their own soap by posting texts, voice, pictures, and video of their daily lives onto their own dedicated soap page, with 'fans' signing up to receive updates via email and cell phone (soap stars are encouraged to actively manage and involve their fan club).

Fans and visitors can then vote for their favorite show, increasing a soap star's celebrity status and popularity ranking. The amount of content uploaded on a regular basis also helps to up one's ranking. Soap stars with high rankings are eligible to win prizes such as a feature in a 'real' celebrity magazine (courtesy of publisher Sanoma, who initiated the concept), lend their face to product labels, have their own branded VIP booths at glam parties, and so on. Participation is free, though users can purchase credits to buy promotional tools which may increase traffic to their show. And, in a B-on-GO twist (see above), soap stars can now promote themselves on Soapshow TV as well, in short video clips airing on Soapshow's streaming media page. Let a billion GRAVANITY shows grow ;-)





EyeToy
Quick update on Sony's EyeToy, a small camera that sits on a TV set and plugs into a Playstation2, to project users' images in the center of the action on-screen. This wildly popular GRAVANITY toy, which has sold more than 4 million units worldwide, recently launched AntiGrav, the first and only 3D character based EyeToy game that uses facial and body recognition technology to control a character in futuristic hoverboard gameplay. It also recently announced Kinetic, slated for release in early 2005 (Europe), a game allowing players to improve not only general fitness but also reactions, posture, balance, breathing and all round body toning and conditioning. Kinetic was developed in coordination with Nike: sounds like an interesting BRANDED BRANDS take on GRAVANITY. Which other brands will partner with Sony next, to put the YOU in YOUNIVERSE?

OPPORTUNITIES
Business is about customers, and customers only. And most of these customers are obsessed with just one thing: themselves. Their status, their mortality, their appearance, their popularity. So why not take a cue from M&Ms, Sanoma, Nike and others and start developing goods, services and experiences revolving around, named after, dictated, centering, and starring your most important 'assets'? >> Email this trend to a friend.

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MASSCLUSIVITY