As recently reported on Indesignlive...
With one chair, one engaging entertainer, 50 relatable scenarios and millions of views, KE-ZU has tapped a new audience.
Call it an a-ha moment if you will but “the Tipo point” may be more apt. It describes the decision by KE-ZU’s Mark Swanton to try something out of the (furniture retailing) marketing box. Bemused by his teenage son’s preferred information source - YouTube - Swanton set about enticing an entertainment-driven Millennial audience to engage with what he believes is one of the most utilitarian seating offers on the market.
Turns out the idea had legs.
Tipo, a chair collection designed by Taku Kumazawa for Axona-Aichi, has a supporting role in a five-minute plus video piece by Canadian stop motion animator and video wizard Kevin Parry. At the request of the KE-ZU team, Parry, who has over a million Instagram followers and YouTube subscribers, revisited his 2017 YouTube outing - 50 Ways To Sit – with Tipo as the stunt seat. The resulting video went viral.
Launched mid-year, 50 ways to sit (2019) has notched up 2 million views and has attracted more than 4,000 comments from people who recognise something of themselves, a friend or family member in Parry’s strangely engaging miming sequence. The string of behavioural vignettes centres on human/chair moments like sleeping across two chairs when stranded at an airport; spinning and cruising across the floor on a castor-based chair; a germaphobe’s wipe-down; a waiting room scene and cool teacher moves. Parry, who has parlayed his 50 Ways idea into a series that includes posing for photos, eating, swimming and even saying goodbye, says the lightweight Tipo, in all its guises, was the perfect foil for his theatrics.
“Using the TIPO chairs unlocked so many more options!,” says Parry.
“In the original video I used a single dining chair, so I didn't have options of wheeling the chair around or using multiple chairs. The variety of the TIPO chairs really fired up my imagination.
“The TIPO chair is also super lightweight, so it made it easy to perform by carrying it around.”
Parry says his career as an animator informs his video performances. “I’ve come to understand how important every little gesture can be and how a slight tilt of the hips, for example, can completely change a performance.” It is these nuances that keep the viewer engaged.
“The fact that people watched ‘a chair ad’ for more than five minutes is astounding,” says Swanton. A long list of viewer comments concurs. “I just watched a five-minute video and realised at the end it was a promo for a chair!”
KE-ZU sells the Tipo collection primarily to corporate and education markets. Apart from its lightness (3.5 kg) and the subsequent ease of carrying a few chairs at a time, the neatly stacking chair is a space-saver and can save a fortune in storage costs when the chairs are not in use. Perhaps Tipo’s strongest attribute is the comfort factor: the mesh seat and back offers great support and comfort. The mesh seat and backrest are woven from a breathable knitted yarn making it especially fit for purpose. The chair also has both AFRDI and GECA certification as both the mesh and the chair frame are manufactured from 100-per-cent recycled materials - and the entire chair is recyclable.
The video release marks the addition of new colours to the original Tipo colour range which launched with black, white, grey and red. The red has now been omitted, with Burgundy, Deep Blue, Pebble and Olive joining the line-up. There are four leg types and options with or without arms, folding seat, bag tray and even an A3 writing tablet and Tipo has picked up a swag of awards including the prestigious Red Dot Design Award and Green Good Design Award. Swanton says the latest mesh fabrication has a silky finish so tactile that KE-ZU is producing covetable carry bags from the off-cuts.
A quick scan of blogs on marketing to Millennials (defined as those born between 1981 and 1997) shows broad trends in support of KE-ZU’s YouTube gambit. This digital-first generation checks their phones an average of 43 times a day, they are highly responsive to shared material and product reviews and they lap up customer feedback.
Most millennials distrust traditional advertising. Moreover, they respond to material that showcases products in a natural way that doesn’t make them feel like ads. This is also the most educated generation in history – and, as Swanton has observed first-hand – there are many ways in which they absorb information.
Parry’s breezy concept has inevitably attracted a few online curmudgeons but there is no doubt the 50 Ways to Sit (2019) clip has captured attention, while showcasing the chair collection’s greatest attributes. Make no mistake, this boy-next-door character working through a rollcall of banal scenarios is curiously compelling.
“I just watched a random dude sit on a chair 50 times. What has become of my life?” says one viewer comment.
“He really advertised that chair and now I want one,” says another. "These are the coolest chairs ever".
“This is a big waste of 5:07 minutes of my life. I love it.”
And "did I just watch a 5 minute chair advertisement?"
Swanton knows he lucked out, asking Parry to engage with Tipo just at the right time. The video artist has since been commissioned by big brands including Wendy’s, Hershey’s, Listerine, Brooks Brothers and Malibu Rum. Meanwhile, the video views keep building and have generated a handful of good orders that KE-ZU can directly attribute to the video clip.
In the words of a final 50 Ways To Sit (2019) viewer:
“Who knew watching someone sit down over and over again could be so entertaining?!”