Post Office Productions: stirring up change in South African music.

Post Office Productions is an indie production company with a whole lot of bells and whistles. P.O.P is run by a trio of top notch producers and designers who are constantly challenging the generally accepted mediocrity that governs the quality of music produced in South Africa. With many pieces of equipment which are firsts in the country and a head producer/CEO (Francis Müller) who has been trained by the best in the business from the world-renowned Berklee Music College in Boston, USA, this company is truly a force to be reckoned with.

P.O.P offers a wide range of facilities with two recording/practice studios, a graphic design studio, gym and a JimmiJagga sponsored chill area/gazebo. The business offering is pretty simple – this place is a home away from home for artists who are looking for productions of unprecedented quality. Some say that this set up is a reaction to the overly corporate environments of most studios in South Africa – which are not necessarily conducive to the creative process but rather all about the bottom line.

Not only can you write and record your album or practice with your band at this facility, but you can also get your album and promotional artwork custom designed by some of the most creative people in the business. In addition to all of this, the company is beginning to branch out into the events industry – organising massive events and putting their clients on these line-ups at every opportunity.

Overall, I am truly impressed with the nature of this business model – they are constantly releasing exceptional productions and offering a level of comfort that is not really found anywhere else in the country. The drive here is inspiring, as not many indie production companies can say that in just two years they have managed to build a client base of some of South Africa’s most well respected artists. I mean, these guys have worked with Camagwini; Da L.E.S; The Teargas/Cashtime Fam; L-Tido; The Soil; Spaza$hop!; MXO; Lira; Crash Car Burn; Pro Kid; and world renowned legend Tsepo Tshola. This is all seriously impressive given the company’s recent entry into the market. Visit the Post Office Productions website here, and follow them on Twitter (click here) and Facebook (click here).

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Freedom of Movement

CARGO KILTS ARE A FRESH ARTISAN COMPANY THAT DOESN’T JUST OFFER KILTS, THEY OFFER FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT…

There are times when I find myself straying away from the university library and out of the gates into marvelous Melville in search of a little adventure. This little suburb is Johannesburg‘s bohemia – a little village of cafe culture and boutique shopping, where one will find the most interesting characters. I feel that my trips to Melville are sort of like mini-adventures, because everytime I go there I end up spending time with people who take me on a journey through the stories of their colorful lives.

Enter Sean McClymont – a kind, bearded South African Scottsman who plays the bagpipes and rocks the kilt. As I was scouting for interesting encounters, I came across a store which seemed to have evaded time. Cargo Kilts has no glitzy, digital, 21st century elements – it’s all pure old school, analogue and tradition. The lure of this time-warp was what drew me into the store, where I struck up a coversation with manager Sean. Innitially, I assumed that the kilt is for men who play bagpipes….but Sean soon showed me how wrong I was.

Sean explained to me that the whole concept of the kilt revolves around freedom of movement. It is about being functional and comfortable, as well as making a statement. I was right about the bagpipe players though – they are indeed a big part of the cargo kilt customer market, but there are many other cultures which have embraced the kilt. Farmers and non-city folk, homosexuals and activists, rockers and hippies all buy kilts from Sean. The mini kilt is a kilt made for ladies (can’t wait to get my own) so there goes my misguided perception of kilts being for men only. Sean had me try on a couple of the kilts he had in stock, so that I could get a feel for the freedom of movement concept – as he insisted that the only way to understand the concept is to feel it. I can say from experience now that the concept of freedom of movement really is the only way to describe the feeling of wearing a kilt.

So, naturally, my first query was “what is the dirffernece between a kilt and a skirt?” Well, Sean showed me that the kilt has pleating at the back, and is fastened with three small buckles whereas skirts are not made in this way. The kilt also has a number of spacious pockets, a few attachments to hook keys onto, and belt loops – which all ladies know are rarely features on a skirt. Obviously, the traditional history of the kilt is also a major difference, as kilts have had an interesting hisory – having origins in Europe, going through a period of being banned by English royalty and making a statement on rugby fields for generations.

Tartan kilts have been iconic in Mc families as the various clans had specific tartans which represent their lineage. The tartans at Cargo Kilts are all handmade by the company and are not imported (as I would have thought). This artisan craft is beautiful and incredible, as the fabrics are truly top quality and the some fifteen varieties are strikingly impressive. The kilts are made to measurements, so if you buy one you are getting a one-of-a-kind tailored masterpiece. The most impressive tartan that these guys make is the only one of it’s kind in the world – the South African tartan (which Sean is pointing to in the above photograph). The store also stocks jacobite shirts, sporrans (hide pouches), flat caps (cheesecutters),  Tam O’Shanter hats, traditional Irish dancing shoes and (my personal favourite) drinking horns.

Another great thing I spotted in the store is the African Celtic Jewellery. These beautifully crafted rings, earrings, broaches, tiaras and necklaces are unique and attractive. There are also a number of interesting functional display items including a gramophone, an original singer sewing machine, a whiskey cabinet, a Gestetner printing press, and a large jeweler’s magnifying glass for customers to use when checking out the jewellery.

Visit the store on Melville’s popular 7th Street, or see their website (click here). You could also find out more from the Cargo Kilts Facebook page (click here).

SA Tweets for Sweets

SOUTH AFRICAN MARKETERS DIVE INTO SOCIAL MEDIA REWARDS CAMPAIGNS

Guerilla marketing has been on the up and up in South Africa in 2012, especially when it comes to reward-based social media strategies. We have seen this with campaigns like the Bos Ice TeaTweet for Tea’ product sample vending machine installation (by Cow Africa, Thingking and RAAK) at the Cape Town Design Indaba, or the Exclusive Books social media driven discount rewards campaign. ‘Tweet for Tea’ involves the tweeter receiving a product sample from the machine as soon as they tweet using the hash-tag for the product. Exclusives ‘Stickers’ are handed out as discount rewards for rating their products and sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

Most recently, Toyota has launched it’s new model, the Etios, with the pay-off line “Here to make you smile”. To stick true to this brand promise, advertising agency DraftFCB and Thingking created a tweet-triggered gum-ball machine pop-up installation which truly makes people smile. The tweeter tweets using the product hash-tag and a unique pin and the machine is sprung into action – and by action, I mean serious action. The gumball is released and taken through a series of wacky obstacles for about a minute before reaching the smiling tweeter. As a result, the consumer is completely captivated by the brand for a bit more than a fleeting moment – experiencing something totally novel and memorable.

These campaigns are brilliant, in my opinion. The integration of digital and mechanical, the guerilla tactics, the customer engagement, the sheer creative genius and the pure fun of it all makes these campaigns mouth-watering ideas in the eyes of a strategist – and definitely brings a smile to customers. The only question now is what will competitors and other brands do to trump these ideas? Will we be seeing cheap imitations or sparks of unique creativity?

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