Toyota hooks up with Media Blanco to launch global campaign showcasing international busker talent

Toyota has teamed up with Marc Ellis’s small creative agency Media Blanco to launch an online showcase of the musical talent of buskers worldwide via a campaign called ‘Feeling the Street’. Hosted on a specially dedicated website, the campaign asks visitors to vote for their favourite buskers, with the overall winners becoming part of super group that will perform in New Zealand later this year. 

To create the campaign, creative agency Media Blanco, made up of a trio of employees, spent three months travelling the world filming the very best street performers encountered and collated them on the website. To add to this collection of talent, Toyota has now opened the competition to the public for the next 12 weeks, inviting other street musicians to upload clips of their own performances to the website.  

Kristen Mathew of Media Blanco says visitors to the site will choose their favourite performers from hundreds on offer, which will help to decide which six individuals will form the band.

“In June 2015, the most popular musicians will be flown to New Zealand from wherever they are in the world for a nine-day tour of New Zealand that will include a trip all around the country and culminate with a live performance at the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival,” says Matthew. “Six audience winners will also be announced and will be flown to New Zealand as ‘roadies’ for the trip.”

The concept of the campaign was developed by ex-All Black and television personality Marc Ellis, who started Charlie’s juice with two friends in the late 1990s. They later sold the business for $18 million, and Ellis went on to form Media Blanco in 2011.

Since forming the agency, Ellis, who holds a marketing degree, has worked on other campaigns for Toyota New Zealand as well as for Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand. However, this campaign is on a much larger scale, having been commissioned by Toyota Global and taking over 12 months to develop.


According to Toyota, the three phases of the competition are:

Phase 1 – Enter and Vote. Musicians can enter by submitting a video of themselves playing an original song on their street corner. A global online audience will then vote by throwing money in the hats of the musicians they like most. Phase 1 runs from 18 March to 20 May.

Phase 2 – Pick your band. The audience will be able to pick a combination of the six artists they would most like to see come together. Phase 2 runs from 20 May to 3 June.

Phase 3 – Gathering of the Global Street Band. The winning participants will be named and travel to New Zealand for a nine-day tour across the country that will culminate in a live performance on stage.  Six audience winners will also be selected as ‘Roadies’ to travel with the band. Phase 3 runs from 4 June to 20 June 20.

The competition is somewhat reminiscent of the Scirt World Buskers Festival, which offers a programme of events showcasing the best street performers in the world, including musicians, comedians, visual artists, fringe artists and more and ran in Christchurch from the 15 to 25 January this year.

And as slight aside, John Carney’s film Begin Again starring Keira Knightley also used an interesting idea in regard to putting oneself out there as a performer in the ever-growing digital age. Knightley plays a singer-songwriter who is discovered by an out-of-work record label executive and collaborates with him to produce an album recorded in public locations all over New York City, before selling the final product online without any assistance from a label.

While the digital age certainly does present a host of problems to struggling musicians, it’s encouraging to see that there new opportunities available through self-promotion and brand-funded competitions.       

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