Paul Frank: Academy of Awesome

Paul Frank, the Orange county cartoonist turned international fashion and accessories brand, is taking Julius, its 15 year old red lipped monkey creation, on an interactive mobile tour this summer as it positions the character-based brand for a brand new era

The Academy of Awesome Mobile Tour 2011 will make pit stops across the US at a variety of quirky locations, pitching up at the world’s tallest thermometer, the largest ball of yarn and that haven of obsessive weirdness, Graceland itself.

The tour Winnebago will offer up a host of activities alongside an exhibition featuring a retrospective of limited edition artwork creations going back over the years. These activities include a ‘creation station’ with silk screening (whereby visitors can create their own bespoke Paul Frank creation), plus a fashion show and a battle of the bands contest.

The battle of the bands element is interesting in that those who submit songs via the accompanying microsite will not only take part in a standard user generated music promotion, they could also secure the chance to feature on a Paul Frank album. The album will go on sale on iTunes and be available in Paul Frank stockists.

The whole promotion is a well-integrated meld of art, music and fashion, turning over the iconic brand to the people to get creative with.

This campaign is also something of a reboot for the brand, which aims to turn the beloved character into a media brand capable of netting an anticipated $300M in retail sales this year. A TV cartoon is set to roll out at some point in the near future to preschoolers, which comes as no real surprise as Saban Brands  (which owns Paul Frank) also owns TV crossover brands ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘Power Rangers’.

The field trip concept, based around a ‘conspiracy of fun tag line, is a well-considered springboard for the brand’s integration into the wider public conscious in the US, especially with a younger generation. However, whether it can propel the character beyond trinkets and t-shirts in the wider world outside of the US remains to be seen.

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