Will.i.am, Kanye West & Pharrell Williams
That’s my assessment of the battle between the two hip-hop stars/music produces featured on panels during this week’s Cannes Lions Festival. That’s just my perspective, mind you. And it’s not because Will.i.am isn’t really smart, and didn’t say some important things on today’s “creativity” panel moderated by McCann WorldGroup chief Nick Brien and co-hosted with MRM Worldwide. I just think Pharrell Williams did a better job of authentically communicating is views of the role of media, marketing and creativity during the panel he did with Digitas and Vevo earlier in the week. Will.i.am was a bit slicker, and, well, Madison Avenue-like, with packaged buzzwords like “communiting” (communication to and through communities [ie. social media]).
Don’t get me wrong, Will.i.am has a really sophisticated view of the role marketing and media are playing in the creative process and the communities a creator like him are trying to reach and influence. Especially the concept of disintermediation. He didn’t call it that, but that’s what he was talking about when he said that the big change in music technology was the shift from recording/then distributing music to one in which the same platform (the computer and the Internet) used to record the music is also being used to distribute and experience it. In fact, Will.i.am is kind of prescient about the impact of media technology. For example, he said he more or less intuited the emergence of Twitter.
He said it hit him recently as he was about to take the stage in front of an audience of 100,000 fans at a concert in Brazil, and he was backstage tweeting. In the old days, he said, he was just “twiddling his thumbs [gestures by twiddling his thumbs]. As if I knew one day I’d be tweeting these thoughts.” Similarly, Will.i.am seemed to predict yet another futuristic media trend live on stage in front of the Cannes audience. Recalling how, after tweeting backstage, his handlers took his smartphone away and handed him a microphone, he said,” What’s wrong with this picture. I handed them a cell phone and they handed me a device that can only do one thing.” “That’s old school,” he continued, adding that it should all be done on one device, almost as if he were speaking directly to Steve Jobs.
Actually, he was speaking directly across the stage from Johan Jervøe, vice president of the Sales and Marketing Group; and director of creative services and digital marketing at Intel Corp., which has a deal with Will.i.am. Asked by McCann WorldGroup’s Brien about when he began working with Intel, Will.i.am gave an equally polished answer. “I was working with Intel way before I was working with Intel,” he said, explain, “My tool that I use to make music is the computer. I can’t see myself using any other processor processing my ideas and turning it into reality. It’s a natural relationship.” His computers may have Intel inside, but Intel clearly has Will.i.am inside, or at the very least, on its side.
Pharrell & Will.I.Am – My Definition
Pharrell & Will.I.Am – My Definition (Freestyle) (04′)