ROCKTOBER top hits and marketing hints

Written by:
  • Catriona Burgess

Illustrations by:
  • Shelly Shao

In the 1970s radio station 2SM declared that the 10th month should be forever known as ROCKTOBER. In 1979 ROCKTOBER peaked with the Concert of the Decade, featuring 29 Aussie acts including Marcia Hines, Sherbet, Skyhooks, Dragon, Split Enz and Stevie Wright. Over 250,000 people gathered on the Sydney Opera House forecourt for an event that’s widely acclaimed as the best Australian rock concert of all time.

Just 14 at the time, our Head of Frost* Place Cat Burgess was bitten hard by the rock bug and remains a die-hard ROCKTOBER fan.

And so, for the month of October, Cat brings us a special top 10 to celebrate the month of Rock, illustrated by wunderkind, Shelly Shao. Songs to take us back to all the things we all miss – gathering in crowds to see rock gods prance the stage, mega concerts when the sweaty presence of another fan nearby was somewhat safe, back to when Corona was just a beer.

Her top ten has been hand-picked to celebrate classic anthems from around the world across the decades, and to share some helpful tips about creating great places and marketing to today’s discerning crowds along the way.

Sit back, crank up the volume and listen to the countdown here while you read. Enjoy, and let’s hope we are back together soon listening to Aussie rock on the Opera House steps!

#1 We Built this City, Starship.

What better way to start our ROCKTOBER celebration than with this 1985 anthem by Starship. Who can forget Grace Slick as she belted out power pop in her own distinctive style? This song reminds us that we choose how to build our cities. COVID is an opportunity to re-think what matters in shaping CBDs. Expect to see central business districts turning into central experience districts. And for Governments to play a more active role than ever in bringing them to life. With the need to draw the crowds back, many cities are focusing on the creative arts to act as people magnets, including more stages in public places, so we can be dancing in the streets.

#2 This Must Be the Place, Talking Heads.

“Home is where I want to be, pick me up and turn me round”. So starts this 1982 classic by the thinking-person’s band, Talking Heads. This prescient lyric could have been written for the COVID era, when being at home has seemed like one perpetual day, and life’s been turned on its head. Take time to listen to the beautiful poetry of this track. COVID has taught us that how we use places shapes who we are and how we think. Place is on everyone’s lips, and place visioning is starting to take centre stage. We’re seeing a huge fanbase emerge for ideas-based places focused on delivering greater identity and human connection.

#3 Human Nature, Michael Jackson.

If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that people need nature. This tune from the King of Pop and solo-gloved one, Michael Jackson, is essential listening for the ROCKTOBER top 10. Understanding people is becoming a finely-tuned artform, enabling us to use design to serve people better than ever. It’s important to remember that human-centred-design isn’t just design by designers for humans! It’s an actual methodology that enables us to put insights and empathy at the heart of how we solve problems. Expect to see a growing convergence between science and humanity – as neuroarchitecture, behavioural science, and other research-driven design practices rise up the charts for how to solve the most wicked of problems.

#4 My Generation, The Who.

Released in 1965, this anthem from the perennial mod-fathers The Who captures how every generation feels about the one before. Let’s face it, we don’t get other generations, even if we like to think we do. Right now, we need the old power generation (Prince pun intended) to step aside and let in new voices. The age of diversity is well and truly here, and we are all the better for it. Don’t assume you know – ask. Tune in, turn on, and open up to the new power of a pluralist age.

#5 What’s My Scene, The Hoodoo Gurus.

This 1987 Aussie classic will have your toes tapping before you know it. We all have our own scene, and the rise of tribes is one of the most important forces in marketing today. Mass marketing has shifted to tribal marketing. Our ‘bubbles’ shape what we believe and who we trust. Once you’ve listened to this track from our homegrown Gurus, track down the book “Tribes” by marketing guru Seth Godin. Learn all about why, for the first time in history, anyone can start a movement and get a huge fan base. A fascinating read that goes a long way towards explaining why anti-vaxxers are drawing such large crowds.

#6 Can’t Help Falling In Love, Elvis.

Forever the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis has a lot to show us about building a fan base. A great brand is all about driving desire and bringing the emotional big guns. Stop thinking about describing your product and being literal. Start thinking about what will fill your customers with unbridled passion. And if you need a new logo, remember its job is to land cupid’s arrow in the heart of your market, not to mimic what you do. Put on a set of leathers if it helps – it certainly worked for Elvis.

#7 I’m Bored, Iggy Pop.

Now to the godfather of punk – Iggy Pop. Boredom. We’re all feeling it. ‘I bore myself to sleep at night. I bore myself in broad daylight.’ Crank this track up loud and release some of that pent up anger about what COVID has taken away from us. Then start thinking about how mass boredom is actually an opportunity for your brand. With so many people at home stuck on screens, now’s the time to do something different. But remember that if your marketing looks like everyone else no-one’s going to notice you, let alone thank you for helping to relieve some of the endless ennui.

#8 Let Me Entertain You, Robbie Williams.

Mr Entertainer Robbie Williams wasn’t dubbed the number 1 artist of the 1990s for nothing. This track is a dissertation in dynamics. It takes us on a journey from whisper quiet to rousing chorus. Don’t even get me started on the video, with Robbie doing a great audition for his rock ancestors, KISS. We live in the era of infotainment. This has been magnified even further by the fact that so much of our lives are now conducted on screens. Embrace video, music, and motion. Create stories fit for the really small screen. And make sure your marketing isn’t just on the one note.

#9 Respect, Aretha Franklin.

Time to hear from the Queen of Soul. This ‘do right, all day woman’ gives us the best possible advice for any relationship – a little respect goes a long way. Reaching other people isn’t about glitz and empty promises, we want to look behind the curtain and see what you truly believe in. Do your customers a favour – truly respect them by eliminating anything that wastes their time. Edit mercilessly. That goes especially for presentations you’re sharing on Teams!

#10 Knowing Me Knowing You, ABBA.

2021 may well be remembered as the year Swedish Supergroup ABBA announced they’re getting the band back together (but I doubt it!). There’s never been a more important time for your personal brand. While it may be tempting to stop showering, or start wearing your PJs to work, the only cues most people are getting about you in the COVID era is how you look on a screen. It matters. So does sharing what’s on your mind. LinkedIn is continuing to skyrocket to the top of the charts for B2B communications. Make sure you know how to use it for hitting the airwaves with ideas and making valuable connections that could rock your world.

Finally, if you want to re-live the excitement of the 1979 ROCKTOBER Concert of the Decade, check out our own International King of Pop from the 1960s and 70s, Stevie Wright of the legendary Easybeats, in a mind-blowing performance of Evie Parts 1, 2 and 3 click here. Even 42 years later with dodgy video quality, the energy is palpable and the crowds are awe-inspiring. Long live ROCKTOBER!

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