Are You Coming to Comic-Con?

Rebel Industries will be live and direct at Comic-Con this week. Look for us around the streets of San Diego on Thursday. We'll be activating a promotion for an upcoming major motion picture. Details are top secret for now, but the main character is definitely a name you've heard before. Watch this space or follow me on Twitter for more info as it becomes available.

Then on Friday, we've got the New Amsterdam Shave Lounge. We partnered with SPIN Magazine and IHEARTCOMIX to provide guests with complementary straight-razor shaves, shoe shines, and New Amsterdam cocktails. If that wasn't enough, the party will feature performances by Andrew W.K. and Peanut Butter Wolf. Get your tickets here.

We hope to see you. Leave a note here if you're coming down.

New Amsterdam Shave Lounge

Rebel Industries kicked off a 12-event series for New Amsterdam Vodka last week at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, UT.

Guests at the Slamdance opening night party were the first to experience the New Amsterdam Shave Lounge, an early 1900s-style barbershop / bar setup that offered free straight-razor shaves, shoe shines, and of course cocktails.

You can read Event Marketer's coverage of the program here

The New Amsterdam Shave Lounge will be seen 11 more times this year at key special events around the country. Hit us up to find out where, or to suggest an event that you'd like us to sponsor.


Gang Starr frontman GURU died this week. If you don't know who GURU was, or want the details of his life and death, there's an excellent piece on that at URB, or The New York Times. This is a marketing blog, and as much as we at Rebel were fans of GURU and are deeply saddened by his loss, our job is to help you become better at your job of marketing your brands and products. We do that by learning from everything — I mean everything — that happens around us, including the untimely deaths of rap stars. Here we go… By some definitions, Gang Starr never made it big. They never sold records like Lil Wayne or Soulja Boy. They didn't become actors like Ice Cube or Mos Def. But they did manage to build a career that spanned two decades and brought us some of the most important hip hop records of our time.

In a word, Gang Starr were influencers. That term gets thrown around a lot these days, generally referring to anyone with more than 5 Facebook friends. But Gang Starr epitomized the role of the influencer long before marketing types could ruin the term. They were just really good at what they did. GURU was a good rapper, but his true legacy is about bringing jazz into hip hop in truly innovative ways; it's about crossing cultural borders by collaborating with artists from around the world; it's about partnering with one of the best producers in modern music to create records that would endure.

Without trying, they influenced dozens or hundreds of professional musicians to improve, and countless thousands of young kids out there to pick up a mic. And that's their legacy. Without Gang Starr — and other influential, but not famous artists — maybe there's no Nas, no Biggie, no Jay-Z. Maybe that's not the exact lineage, but you get the picture: For every one act who comes out and changes the world, there are several who served to inspire, to influence, to enable them to become who they are.

A major problem with modern society is that the role of the influencer is misunderstood. Surely, the current music business has no room left for artists like GURU or those before them like Rakim or Kool G Rap. The labels won't support an act with moderate sales over multiple albums. But these are the artists that make wannabe artists want to be artists. These are the ones that matter.

The brand world is largely the same. We're too busy looking for home runs and superstars to see the real opportunities in solid performers who don't make the a-list. If you're a sponsor, you're far better off supporting artists like Gang Starr who people actually care about than breaking your bank on someone like Lady Gaga who we won't remember next year. Even if you're not a sponsor, you should be looking within — and outside — your organization to find the real influencers who inspire you, your team, and your customers. You need to partner with them, win them over, somehow get them on your side.

Think about it: Who influences you? Who inspires you to do what you do even better? Who influences your employees, your customers? And what are you doing to participate in that cycle of influence? Leave a comment here and tell us your story.

The Tiger Woods Problem

tiger_woods_pressLet's dub today Tiger Woods Day, and make it the last day on which public apologies will be abided and accepted. I hereby call for a moratorium on apologies. Tiger's well-rehearsed heartfelt apology was just the latest in a long string of pleas by the rich, famous, and powerful to allow them back into our lives, and our wallets. Politicians, athletes, actors — blessed with the trappings of celebrity have increasingly found themselves at the podium in recent years, begging for forgiveness. More specifically, they're begging us not to take those trappings away.

Seth Godin said it best in The Dip, essentially that most of the rewards in any profession are reserved for the very few at the very top. The reason, among other things, is the scarcity of available spaces at the top. Who's the second best golfer in the world? If you follow golf, you should know the answer to this, although there might be some debate. The rest of us have no idea. Is it John Daly, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Iacocca? Who cares?

But what does the best mean? The guy who scores the lowest and wins the most jackets? Or the guy who plays well enough on the field and is also a model husband. That's for you to decide, and for us as a society to decide what matters most.

Either way, I propose that given the untold riches — both monetary and in the form of women all over the world throwing themselves at you — give to guys like Tiger, this is a one-shot deal. Zero tolerance. No apologies. You mess up, you have to own it. No fake tears or rehearsed speeches. The collective sob stories must be stricken for the record. We either care or we don't.

Of course, I'm living in my own little fantasy world. We are addicted to the soap opera of public life in which people are lionized and then brought back down to earth. But I say it all has to stop. Today.

Who's with me? Post your comments here and help me celebrate Tiger Woods day.

Blu and David Ellis // Down With Us

combo-by-blu-and-david-ellis-fame-festivalCheck out this video of some amazing collaborative work between artists Blu and David Ellis at Italy's Fame Festival. Not only is it great art, it's amazing video. Why isn't your brand sponsoring this? Or commissioning work like this? Is it the cost of a little paint and some sweat from guys who do it for the love? Is it that you can't see the ROI in giving your customers something they will love? There are things far more difficult to monetize than love.

COMBO a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis (2 times loop) from blu on Vimeo.