THE ROBERT MUELLER DEVOTIONAL CANDLE: A SYMBOL OF RESISTANCE AND MEANING IN OUR OVERFLOWING WORLD OF STUFF.

Mueller_candle++(1).jpg

BY MEGAN AMBerSON

As marketers and strategists, we often talk about how our clients’ products and services are going to create meaning in their consumers lives. This exploration of how people relate to products in their world is a critical part of our process to develop compelling storytelling. But, let’s be straight; in a world overflowing with stuff can any one product truly inspire meaning in people’s lives anymore?

After witnessing one simple object incite a national wave of political resistance, I can tell you the answer is a resounding YES.

When artist Clare Winter of Devotional Democracy chose to design a devotional candle of Robert Mueller, her intention was to use her creativity to give strength to a man who is likely going to make a case against our current president and his administration.

The candle was the cylindrical type you would see in a church or an altar. She brilliantly chose an image of Mueller that conveyed him as a serious and important man with a bright halo of hand-embellished rhinestones that sparked brightly. Her creation was a simple object, but quickly became more than just a candle.

On December 2, 2018, Cargo Inc, a Portland-based marketplace that specializes in unique goods, posted a straightforward photo of the candle with the caption, “In stock now, the Robert Mueller devotional candle”. There was no big social spend, or campaign to support it, it was a simple, independent retailer posting a product.

When the Cargo team opened shop the next day, they were shocked to have a flood of consumer demand for the candle. The website was sold out, there were endless voicemails, DM’s, and hundreds of emails from consumers all over the US frantically asking, “I have to have this candle, how can I get one?”. People were lined up outside, all waiting to buy the candle.

This singular product post had 6,100 shares, 249 comments, 101,556 engagements and reached half a million people, essentially overnight and all through organic sharing. For some context, Cargo Inc is an independent retailer with a small staff and suddenly it was at the center of consumer demand for one thing: the Robert Mueller devotional candle. The phone rang off the hook, people streamed in and hundreds of people put their names on a waiting list to get one.

Wait, is this the emotional resonance and connection we strive to create between objects and the people who buy them? Can people in an age of everything’s on Amazon still find meaning in a purchase and use it to represent what they believe in?

Yes. People had suddenly connected with this candle, and to use it became a symbol of political resistance and want for change. One woman’s creative idea and an independent retailer were empowering shared storytelling, this became a candle that mattered.

“This is hands down one of the greatest purchases I’ve made this decade”, “I would like a dozen please”, “I need this”, “ How do I get one”, “I have to support Mueller against Trump, this candle will stay lit”

Cargo sold over 600 candles online in the first three days, another 460 in store, with an end total of over 2,000 candles in the three weeks before Christmas. This was a handmade item that sold as quickly as the artist could make them, Cargo kept selling out throughout December.

This Mueller candle phenomenon proved that in a world of things, there is still meaning in objects that shape our consumer reality with purchase power, and can bring unity when we need it most.

//


 

Contents

img_1648 (1).jpg

ARTIST FEATURE

alex tan

Meet Matte Black’s very own, Alex Tan. At only 23 years old, Alex has figured a lot of important life stuff out, fast. Born and raised in Ohio, Alex was on track to become an Engineer and/or soccer star. With special to the timing of technological innovations, serendipity came into play and led Alex to taking photos on his iPhone as a hobby. After dabbling, he ended up taking a trip to Chicago to shadow a mentor who was shooting a campaign. Filling his spare time knocking on doors of local shops and cafés, Alex started creating custom content for fun money. Flash forward to today, and he’s here, working with us in LA as an Art Director. (Chelsea offered him a job after he was interviewed on our podcast last Spring). He's Co-Founder of MOUTHWASH, shoots on the regular, has been featured as a unique creative on VSCO and Twitter... it seems that there’s little he can’t do. When you meet Alex you can feel his energy. He's got a spark in his eye. He’s just getting started, so look out (and read more about how he got here in this inteview).

— Gaelan Simpson, Managing Editor SSR

IMG_7957-Edit.jpg

FEATURES

SO: DO “WOKE” ADS WORK?

They’re inevitable, so we might as well chat about it.

Hello, got a question for you: have you gone full rage after seeing an advertisement? Not because it was lousy or poorly shot or just, you know, bad. No, not like that. Rather: because the message was a bit much? It brought up a polarizing topic you, the consumer, think corporations and brands should really just gloss over? Or maybe it brought up a negative aspect of society. A human shortcoming even. Those sorts of things. 

— James Royce, Writer

_T0A8430.jpg

FEATURES

The Robert Mueller devotional candle

As marketers and strategists, we often talk about how our clients’ products and services are going to create meaning in their consumers lives. This exploration of how people relate to products in their world is a critical part of our process to develop compelling storytelling. But, let’s be straight; in a world overflowing with stuff can any one product truly inspire meaning in people’s lives anymore?

— Megan Abramson, Strategy Director

 
Becca Esopenko0483.jpg

FEATURES

AUDIENCE ACTIVATION AND THE NEW ART SPECTATOR 

Indulge me for a moment. 

All together now, let’s gently close our eyes and conjure in our collective imagination Leonardo da Vinci’s exalted Italian Renaissance painting, Mona Lisa. I suggest this particular art megastar for its wide recognition among readers, and for the purpose of discussion. 

— Peppa Martin, Founder of Truth + Beauty

 

FINDINGS

THAT 'BURNOUT' ARTICLE EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT.

The title: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation. My coworker slacked this article to a group of us a few weeks back. I didn’t open it. There was no need to.


News of Nudes Nettles Amazon Nerd

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a post about how people are trying to leak his nudes this week. That’s a real sentence. This is a real story. This is another reminder that the reality simulator crashed back in 2012 and things have just been glitching since. Why’s this happening?

 
Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 10.11.57 AM.png