Matthew Miller
Mar 27, 2019

Red Bull tells the tale of a recovering K-pop idol

A 12-minute documentary made with MullenLowe Japan isn't your usual brand tie-up with a hot artist.

Red Bull, through MullenLowe Japan, has released a 12-minute documentary about a young electronic musician who pursued and then eschewed life as a K-pop singer. 

The woman, known as Machina, is now working as an independent artist in Tokyo. Her music, based on modular synthesizers, serves as the soundtrack of the film, and she will be performing at a Red Bull music festival in April.

The film, produced under the auspices of MullenLowe's Tokyo 20XX initiative, aims to demonstrate a commitment to nurturing artists over the long-term rather than going for the easy win of using an artist that’s already blowing up, according to Mike Sunda, strategist and Tokyo 20XX project director.

"We, together with the client, identified an artist and story that really represents commitment to independent values, and we felt that it was really worth investing in telling her story even if it doesn’t come with the guaranteed reach that a more mainstream artist might bring," Sunda added.

Red Bull hosted its first music festival in Japan in fall of 2017, and Tokyo 20XX has been working with the brand as strategic partners on the event since then. The agency's involvement has evolved from primarily comms in prior years to a more integral role, starting with planning the event, this year.

Campaign's view: It would be easy to make light of the story arc in the film, as it should surprise no one that K-pop is a business based on the mass production of interchangeable performers. But the story—of a young person turning away from a chance to succeed via artifice and instead working to find her own, authentic voice—is timeless and genuine. The craft, especially the sound design and music, also makes the film compelling, and overall this is an effective new spin on Red Bull's long-standing formula for branded content. 

CREDITS

Starring, and all music by: Yeohee Kim a.k.a. machìna
Directed by: The Bardos
Executive Producer, Red Bull: Joseph George
Producer & Creative Strategist, Tokyo 20XX: Mike Sunda
Producer & Creative Strategist, Tokyo 20XX: Kasumi Mizoguchi
1st A.D.: Chris Nichols
Colouring: Didier Lefouest
Sound Design: Jeronimo Villa

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