On a sweltering Wednesday night in New York, three unlikely things merged: electronica god Steve Aoki, Duran Duran and Trident Gum.
Well, two unlikely things, really. Even though Duran Duran was billed as the "surprise" of night, Trident was really the unexpected guest at this party. (Duran Duran has been working with DJs for decades, and even counts one among its ranks -- drummer Roger Taylor.)
As part of its first global campaign, "See What Unfolds," the gum brand is planning a series of events around the world, seeking to engage with fans over "the serious business of fun," said Stephanie Wilkes, VP-gum, Kraft Foods.
The campaign broke in April with TV that 's running in several countries. As part of the experiential component, the brand brought Mr. Aoki and Duran Duran together to remix one of the band's hits -- "Hungry Like the Wolf" -- and packed New York's Terminal 5 with super fans of both acts.
"When we thought of the idea of 'See What Unfolds' and really wanting to cater to electronic dance music, Steve came to the top of the list," Ms. Wilkes said. "And then we wanted 'the surprise.' And so perennial '80s band Duran Duran -- you know, we wanted something not expected but not outlandish. I think we got it. And having heard the remix, I think we got it."
It's a curious pairing for Trident. Duran Duran's average fan is probably in her 30s or 40s, and is more interested in the whitening and health benefits of gum, which Trident abandoned for a focus on fun with "See What Unfolds," which seems like a more natural fit for Mr. Aoki's younger audience.
"The campaign spans generations," Ms. Wilkes said. "The mix of the two artists creates a really interesting chemistry. And while they do have different core fan groups, if you look at the fans waiting on the street , there's no clear demographic in either of them. We found big artists. There's nothing more fun than music."
It was Mr. Aoki's first time working with Trident, but he's worked with several brands before, including Pucker Vodka and Axe. And he says working with corporate brands is something he's accustomed to.
"As long as they understand where I'm coming from, to allow me to do what I'm doing and respect my integrity, I'm happy to see where that leads," Mr. Aoki said.
Trident put Mr. Aoki together with Duran Duran (the two worked together in 2007 on a track from Duran Duran's "Red Carpet Massacre" album) and facilitated the reworking of band's classic tune, which was no small undertaking, Mr. Aoki said. "I actually took the song and I just took the a capella and changed the key of the record, wrote a dance record around the vocal, and then they wrote on top of my production," he said. "So it became like this collaborative record rather than a remix.
"It's rare to be able to do something at this level, to be able to perform a song, to work on a song, all this prep ... it needs someone to put it together, so I'm glad this worked out."
During Mr. Aoki's hour-plus performance, Trident branding was evident throughout -- "See What Unfolds" scrolled on a screen behind him. The set even resembled -- intentionally or not -- sticks of gum shooting out of the stage.
During Duran Duran's -- not so much. The branding was stripped away, the gum gone. Their "surprise" performance was a short set of four upbeat songs that started off with "Hungry Like the Wolf: Steve Aoki vs. Duran Duran, The New York Werewolf Mix."
Duran Duran has worked with brands in the past, but in a more limited way. In a campaign similar to Trident's "See What Unfolds," last year, American Express kicked off its "Unstaged" program of pairing artists and directors by bringing the band together with director David Lynch for a concert at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles that was webcast on YouTube. The band also worked with Swarovski for the band's "Girl Panic" video.
Trident, whose agency on "See What Unfolds" is Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, will be taking its message across the country. As a jumping off point, it's allowing directors from the Genero.TV network to download the remix and video from the show to create their own renditions of the track. Then Trident will continue to work with Mr. Aoki on some music festivals, and consumers will have the chance to participate in games and see local artists play on its "See What Unfolds" roadshow.
"As a brand, we don't want to talk about fun only, we want to create, and let people participate in fun. ... Trident bringing that to them helps them connect with Trident," Ms. Wilkes said.