Louis Vuitton Versus The Internet

Luxury super brand Louis Vuitton recently won a court case against Danish artist Nadia Plesner. And certain, sometimes dangerous, parts of the Internet exploded.

The Story:

Nadia created a painting of a impoverished African child carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. The painting also featured Paris Hilton. Her objective was to draw attention to the atrocious situation in Darfur, and criticize materialism and consumerism.

LV took her to court, won $200,000, and she has reacted by keeping the image up on her website and letting the fine grow by leaps and bounds.

And Now …

Here’s what Anonymous, an amorphous group of digital(lulz) vigilantes who have taken on governments, large corporations and individuals have to say about this:

Anonymous takes on Louis Vuitton

As of today morning, social news site and hub for digital activists of all colors reddit.com and the dark side of the internet 4chan.org seem to have taken this cause to heart.

Of course, it may not seem to matter because, as Redditor Arcturussage points out in a brilliant graphic, Redditors don’t seem to be LV’s target audience.

That said, what they’re doing is dangerously subversive and the impact on the luxury brand may well be far more severe.

And now that the great hivemind has decided that LV is EVIL with the vowels missing, the backlash is not going to go away even if the stupid lawyers who thought up the lawsuit are sent to purgatory, the brand withdraws the lawsuit, and apologizes to Nadia.


A new media business model for old media

Apple has changed the world again today.

Apple® today announced a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store℠, including magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc. This is the same innovative digital subscription billing service that Apple recently launched with News Corp.’s “The Daily” app.

Read the press release here

Content is not free, it costs money to create good content. It costs even more to create great content. And the people who write well deserve to be paid more.

By allowing content publishers to charge for content, Apple has laid down the gauntlet.

Now, it is now up to content publishers to screw it up … and here are the top three ways there’re going to screw up:

1. Insist on people paying for monthly/annual subscriptions … ONLY, and that too, at the same rate that it sells for on a news-stand.
2. Forget to take into account the stories/writers who’re making them money — so they end up losing the writers to competition, and their subscribers will follow.
3. Think that video is only done by TV channels, so stick to text and images.

I’ve been saying for a while now that the ipad is going to change the way media is consumed, and in turn, the way media businesses are run.

The most interesting change, however, is going to happen in advertising. The ways ads are designed, the way copy is written … everything about an ad is going to go through a sea change.

I am willing to bet most of the old guard in India are going to pass around two, tired, arguments:

1. Not enough people in India use iPads.
2. We know what sells.

Things are getting interesting.

Car Reviews are going to change

Quick Note to Self: Reading a review for a car today morning I realised that my reasons for buying a car (any car) and the reviewer’s were completely different. In effect, this made the review a non-starter for me because it didn’t address the points I wanted to see covered.

For gadgets and cars there are reviews, and then there’s porn. Seriously, an article/video that talks about everything a gadget or car can do doesn’t qualify as a review. It is porn.

A review must state, right at the start, what the agenda of the reviewer is. Is he looking to buy a car to cart 3 kids around? Is he single and wanting to have fun in the city? The same car can, perhaps, address both needs — but different facets of it will answer these questions.

So, car reviews are going to change. Generalist newspapers that address large, heterogenous, audiences will have to choose a particular audience to address with each review. Which means carefully choosing a reviewer. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Auto magazines etc, do a fairly good job, so the best thing a newspaper can do is pick up content from a magazine.

The big play is going to happen online. There seems to be an opportunity for a curated aggregation of reviews, where reviews are classified by target audience. And by that I don’t mean you give a drop down list that asks a user if he is a dad or a bachelor, and then show reviews accordingly. Though it could be a starting point.

Will track this space with some interest.

Barkhagate: there is a reason editors do not go out and report

The newsroom is a strange place filled with large egos, competing motives, and everybody suffers from the illusion that they are RIGHT. The only reason that a newsroom works is that there are checks and balances. At least, that’s what we’re told.

As a former journalist, I think its important to point out the most fundamental premise on which all these checks and balances are based: reporters are too close to the story, so editors who have no interest in keeping sources happy grill reporters and satisfy themselves before allowing a story to get published.

That’s how it works in newsrooms across the world, and in most in print newsroom in India. Television newsrooms, however, are a whole different story. Almost every news channel in India has a reporter at the top of the pyramid. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in an anchor going out and reporting. There is something wrong when a reporter, talking to sources all the time, calls the shots.

You see, a reporter needs to cultivate sources … to string them along, to build relationships based on something that, for all practical purposes, resembles trust.

An editor doesn’t need to do any of the above. In fact, most editors I’ve known have to put up with all sorts of pressure to carry, or more often not carry, stories. The fact is, having reporters do the reporting gives them a certain amount of distance and deniability, which is often invaluable in not only judging a story’s merits and dealing with external pressure.

In TV newsrooms it doesn’t work like this any longer. Barkha is the Group Editor of NDTV, Rajdeep can have the last word if he chooses to in CNN-IBN, Arnab at Times Now is more commentator than editor, or reporter.

I had the pleasure of working with the former head of Sky News UK. He never appeared on TV. He never reported on a story while he was there. But he was the boss, he was the one with the ultimate responsibility for news calls. And simply because of this distance, even in the hurly burly world of 24×7 news bulletins, he could take calls that the reporter bringing the story in never could.

Unfortunately, in India, almost no checks and balances are imposed in TV newsrooms on the senior-most reporters.

Barkha was too focused on the story of the moment to wonder about the big picture. That’s her explanation. And she’s right. No reporter can be expected to think about the big picture. Their job is to focus on the here and now.

That’s why you need editors …