Having reflected on the feedback given, I put together the final draft of the digipak, now including more details and notes on the front cover, cleaner spine design and record label release details/barcode on the back.
With this polished version, I also printed out a copy of this and set it up as part of a real CD case to better visualise how it’d look as a product to our audience. This was then sent out to peers for their own feedback, asking if the product aligned with their own views on the conventions of the Indie genre, and if this was recognisable from the design. Fortunately, our peers responded positively, all agreeing that the design fits within the conventions and topicalities of the Indie genre and thus delivering the design that fans would expect from this artist.
I’m happy with how we’ve managed to build a strong narrative and pull off the idea of an ARG for our audience, a unique and engaging marketing technique. We installed good brand consistency with the use of consistent colours, fonts and filters in the imagery, as well as using a consistent cipher in our mystery text posts.
In future I’d like to spend more time developing the ARG elements however, to make them feel more rewarding to find and decode, maybe including elements and clues within the digipak design or tour poster, so everything feels a bit more interconnected.
To begin preparing to put our page together, we compiled our post ideas in this slideshow, highlighting what we want featured in each post and why. In summary, the overarching idea for our page is to create an alternate reality game (ARG) alongside our album promotion, creating an interactive sort of treasure hunt/mystery that our audience is encouraged to solve and engage with. You can see an example of this by the band Twenty One Pilots, in June 2020 they organised a similar interaction to promote their single “Level of Concern”. However we also aim to draw from what we learnt from analysing another social media page too, merging the two sides of release promotion and narrative reflective of the two characters seen in our music video.
A promotion package for the release of an album, to include:
a music video (major task)
a social media page (minor task)
a digipak (minor task)
Table of Contents
How do the elements of your production work together to create a sense of ‘branding’?
Focus on all products
How did your research inform your products and the way they use or challenge conventions?
Focus on music video conventions
How do your products represent social groups or issues?
Focus on digipack
How do your products engage with the audience?
Focus on social media page
We began our product with the mission statement to show the dangers and inherent ridiculousness of dedicating your whole life to conspiracy, while also showing that the audience should not take everything at face value. Setting this mission statement acts as a template for our branding, in creating a recognisable identity and worldview through the synergy and cross media convergence of our products.
The music video encodes the star and brand values through the direction of the central character and their surroundings, illustrating to the audience a personality obsessed with conspiracy, seen through his unkempt appearance, erratic body language and giant board of conspiracy he has built, which acts a signifier of his paranoia and obsession. Alongside this we see the other side of the coin too, the mysterious character in a dark room, accompanied by a violinist1, communicating through a TV and found to be at the centre of the theory. The audience, from this, decodes an idea about who these characters are and the roles they play alongside the narrative of the song.
This narrative is continued into our digipak, formatted as if it were a case file belonging to the theorist character, taken straight from his wall. This not only continues the branding but furthers a sense of immersion for the audience, as the digipak defines a combination of the colours (seen throughout the package) and mise-en-scene of the theorist side, but are reminded of the darker side with this character’s reappearance in the centre of the inside cover.
Our social media page also lends very well into our branding, as it allows our developed characters a platform to directly interact with the audience, they engage with fans as fellow “truth-seekers”, and the sinister dark side continues to infiltrate and attempt to communicate, similarly to how he does in the music video, by sharing cryptic codes in the form of edited sound files which need deciphering by the audience.
We achieve this consistency throughout with the use of mise en scene, colours and fonts. The conspiracy sections of the brand are all illustrated in messy clusters of papers, with black whites and browns accompanied by red highlights (which represent the theorist’s thoughts and own marks on each subject). The mysterious/sinister sections of the brand feature our star dressed in much cleaner, sleeker attire, often pictured in a dark void (a reflection of his dark mentality and intent), these areas are also where the retro VHS features come in, as he uses the TV as a platform for communication. As well as this we also use a consistent typeface through both the music video title screen and social media page promotional videos which glitches and stutters between fonts to represent the conflict between sides that encompasses the brand. The idea that one may choose to pursue conspiracy and question what others believe too, but should do so at their own peril.
For our music video we drew inspiration from both indie alternative artists and the idea of conspiracy theory and its culture, with this starting point serving as a blueprint for our product, following Altman’s genre theory, by following this set blueprint and including conventions of the genre we communicate generic codes to the audience and they achieve predictable pleasure from consuming media which fits what they expected of the genre.
Often seen in the modern indie genre is the use of a distinct visual filter/effect over the video, and retro-style mise en scene (see related artist; Jack Stauber). We took inspiration from this and implemented it in sections of the video as a vessel for the mirror character to communicate with the star (the video features two characters that are designed to act in contrast to one another but with a link between them through the conspiracy). We achieved this using an old TV as a prop, which we then used as a frame for some sections of footage in the video through editing. We also used a VHS filter effect over the footage here and in other sections, giving it a grainy effect with chromatic aberration; some sections also used a different aspect ratio to better suit that which would be used in original VHS footage.
We also drew from generic imagery of conspiracy films and TV n, especially within our mise en scene, as the primary background for our video is a giant board of connecting red strings to illustrate our character’s investigation and theorising. Alongside this however, we intentionally subverted expectations at the end of the video as we had our star tear down these notes, creating shock in the audience and making the ending of the narrative impactful and more memorable. This is designed to reflect the idea that this character comes to a revelation that maybe he’s trapped himself in a mental prison and now realises he needs to escape, commenting on the conspiracy impulse and intrigue in society and how dangerous it can be.
Our digipak design aligns with Barthes’ ideas of narrative codes and idea of structuralism, creating links between elements within the narrative and with the audience and their own thoughts/outside knowledge. On opening the digipak the viewer is then presented with the star image amongst an assortment of messy notes and theories. This creates a sense of him being out of reach, and builds on the narrative that we’re aiming for, encouraging viewers to pursue him and continue following this conspiracy theory that we’re setting up, fitting within Dyer’s theory of the absent/present star as he feels present as a part of the audience’s lives as they actively want to pursue him, yet is absent as he inhabits this mysterious setting that’s outside of our comprehension, he doesn’t abide by typical laws and this is why he is a challenge to pursue and discover more about. The mystery that surrounds him is what encourages engagement, with the promise of satisfaction at the end when the goal is reached.
We chose to title our digipak “Confidential”, intentionally playing into the easily recognisable cultural coding of this sort of red “TOP SECRET” stamp that we often see in the media to represent something forbidden but intriguing, a sense of subterfuge to draw the audience in. This image is built up and recognisable for its use of a solid, bold sans serif font in all capitals, combined with a bright red colour to give a sense of importance and authority. This, together, works as a symbolic code (Barthes’ theory), giving it a sense of importance and officialdom which beckons the viewer to explore it further.
We also included examples of semic coding, with the black, white and brown colour scheming connoting a sense of gravity around the files, contrasted with the red scrawling and scribbles could suggest that these files are perhaps not intended to be in the hands of our conspiracy theorist, suggesting some sort of mendacious authority attempting to suppress the “truth seekers”, but these files have slipped through…
Our social media page aligns with Blumler and Katz’s Uses & Gratification theory; allowing entertainment and an escape from reality through the pursuit of this fictional investigation, in this sense entertaining, with audience members directly playing a part for full immersion & interaction. It also helps audiences build a sense of identity, especially through selling merchandise which allows fans to express their interest in the band and how it forms a part of their identity as a badge.
We devised an alternate reality game; something of an online scavenger hunt that encourages direct interaction and pursuit of information, audience members are intrigued by a sense of challenge and forcing them to search out the information themselves makes it feel like a more personal and achieved experience. By doing this we create more of an experience for fans than just watching the release from the outside, driving sales as it promises a more appealing experience from the full package.
As well as engaging our audience through direct interaction, we’re also making sure to include other options for engagement that are less hands-on , for more casual fans who enjoy the music but can’t afford to dedicate time to solving a mystery. These fans are still encouraged to interact with our social posts, with the use of Twitter’s poll feature they can vote to have their opinions heard, as well as being able to comment and post their own thoughts using our hashtag, “#comefindhim”. We are also advertising merchandise for fans to buy with our band logo and hashtag printed onto shirts and other products; this not only gives another option to fans to engage with the band, but also allows them to express themselves and express how much the music means to them as part of their identity.
1reference to the ideas surrounding 19th-century violinist Niccolò Paganini, referred to as “the Devil’s violinist”, using the concept of a violinist in black representing a spirit of evil.
In preparation for our critical reflection essay we utilised this format and aimed to answer four specific questions. Reflecting on theories including Dyer’s, Barthes’, Blumler and Katz’s ideas, using examples from our whole collection of work, across our music video, digipak and social media page.
Here is the second draft, now adding all of the details and notes inside to give it more character and narrative, compiled from some images and documents used in the music video to create the link between them, as well as adding the spine alongside the back cover.
From this draft, we got our teacher to submit a feedback video and give his opinion on the areas that need improvement for the next draft;
In summary, for the next draft I’ll need to;
Fill up the empty space on the back cover, add more stains
Add record label and bar code details on back cover
Add more notes and a better idea of the theories inside visible around the edge of the front cover
Make sure the fold in the centre of the inside cover doesn’t disrupt the design in any way
Here is our next draft of the digipak, having now incorporated the coffee stains we aimed to include from the shoot;
This really adds to the grungy, dirty and disorganized look we’re aiming for.
From this, I compared the work so far with previous student’s work, following the same assessment objectives as them;
The use of camera and Photoshop to take & manipulate engaging images and use a variety of shot distances.
The camera use here is pretty basic, but serves it’s purpose as intended and is adequately lit, however the exposure and balance needed to be adjusted slightly with some photos in order to get them to match.
The selection of mise en scene in the photos and the meaning it communicates.
The mise en scene and visual theming works well an consistently together with the motif of conspiracy theory, with a messy, chaotic collection of notes and theories, communicating the meaning illustrated in our mission statement; reflecting this sense of unkempt obsession and fascination with these theories.
The creative use of DTP to integrate images and text and use colour / typefaces.
I like how I achieved a stamp-like effect with the title with a combination of texture overlays and the smudge tool around the edges. This also worked well alongside the handwritten font, created by physically writing out and scanning out the words that I’d written by hand. The colour scheming is consistent and fitting to the theming, with a bright vibrant red working as a good accent against the more faded paper and brown folder.