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'Vintage style for the modern era': Fender campaign inspires a new wave of guitarists

Fender guitars are revered by serious musicians and weekend warriors alike because they’ve been played on the biggest stages by luminaries like Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Epitomizing this, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour just sold his $21.5m guitar collection to help fight climate change. This included many Fenders which went for well over $150,000 a piece.

But now, to launch its all-new Vintera Series, a lineup of vintage-correct guitars and basses, Fender partnered with the next generation of Fender players. This trio of contemporary musicians and a group of creative experts helped develop the brand’s first vintage-inspired campaign.

The creative includes a 30-second digital commercial that introduces the instruments and overall vibe of the Vintera Series, plus three artist performance videos featuring eclectic musicians including Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram, Curtis Harding and Le Butcherettes. Each performance harkens back to a specific decade to showcase the essence of the vintage-inspired guitars and basses as well as the sound and style of the era. Fender also interviewed each artist to discuss musical influences from the era of their performance, individual music style and what compelled them to pick up that first instrument and play.

"Our holistic electric offering features guitars designed for different types of players – with styles ranging from modern to classic instruments," said Evan Jones, chief marketing officer at Fender.

"The Vintera series definitely speaks to players that favor classic guitars focusing on vintage-era features, like color, neck shape, period-correct pickup configurations, and ultimately, tone. For more than 70 years, the Fender brand has transcended generations and the Vintera Series is a continuation of that."

It was critical for the heritage guitar brand to launch this line of period-correct instruments in an authentic way that would accurately embody past eras in addition to resonating with modern players.

Jeremy 'JT' Taylor, vice-president Fender global brand creative and content discussed the campaign with The Drum.

“The new idea is all about vintage style for the modern era. We always base our campaigns off the ethos of the build of the guitar series. So we were really inspired to take that notion and bring it to life visually,” said Taylor.

“Because we have that deep legacy… it actually helps define every decade of music. We wanted to inspire today’s players to create their own authentic music or sonic identity from the sounds of those past generations.”

The company worked with its in-house creative team to build elaborate sets to represent the 50s, 60s and 70s, to recreate an emotion for those eras. Taylor said they tried to emulate the eras in a modern way that didn’t go overboard “but made you feel like you’re blending today and yesterday.” The costumes also helped bring that to life.

The artists were handpicked for their connections to those eras. Kingfish is a blues artist who might remind some of a young BB King, and he interprets an old soul vibe into new music. Taylor said that Harding “has always been kind of soulful and lives in the 60s almost in his head.” He said Le Butcherettes, a Mexican punk band, was chosen for its cool punk aesthetic.

“We picked them specifically to be able to exude the vintage and be inspired through this modern lens…we’re really excited about how they embraced it and the performances they gave. It’s not only what it sounded like but what it looked like,” said Taylor.

He went on to say that Fender likes to work with artists that have authentic sensibilities in creating their craft.

“I love the analogy that we make these sonic paintbrushes… but it’s up to the artist to create art with them, and everyone creates art differently. So, we try to get the artists that have a real interest in moving culture forward, moving guitar forward, creating for themselves to make the world a little bit better place. We work with a lot of artist who have huge Instagram followings."

He added: "We also want to work with people who want to create with us, creating content, getting excited about that. We’re pretty picky about the style and the image that we want to create as a brand and who we partner with."

Taylor and the Fender team call this one of the company’s most ambitious campaign - it will go out omnichannel for a broad reach. Fender and the individual artists will be prominent with the campaign on social. The campaign will be spread out over three or four months online and in print to keep the conversation going.

“A campaign like this, we’re really speaking to our new core, a younger generation of players. It’s kind of like those people gravitating towards vinyl – that’s the sensibility we’re targeting,” said Taylor.

To see more of the campaign, click on the Creative Works box below.

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