Boost Rolls Out Initiatives Designed To Reach Art Crowd

Mobile companies aiming to carve a niche among the art crowd might want to take a cue from Boost Mobile, the Irvine, Calif.-based wireless company started in Australia and acquired by Nextel in 2003.

Boost is beginning to roll out a series of experimental initiatives under the aegis of its Boosted art-house accessory lab. Currently, Boosted is running a pop-up store in New York City's SoHo area after running a similar program in Miami this fall.

The effort is intended to tie the brand--whose parent has some 4.5 million subscribers--to art, music and popular culture by promoting a stable of new artists. Boosted is showing both the artists' original work and Boost Mobile accessories that they have designed at a temporary Orchard Street space called Lery (luh-ree).

The store, open through the month, includes graphic art and limited-edition collaborative products by Boosted and artists Madsteez, Mint & Serf, and Dean Bradley's Mainframe. Merchandise includes a collection of device cases, T-shirts and speaker sets.

Mark Fewell, senior director of business development at Boosted, says the space is intended to provide a venue "for the artists whom we work with to display their work in a good, cool location. Second, it is a venue to display new products we are coming out with under the Boosted label. Primarily, it's about getting people to see what we are doing. It's our way of extending, in a credible and authentic way, into areas outside wireless."

The company is promoting the space, designed by Otto Design Group, with wild postings in New York, and on BoostedMobile.com.

Fewell says Boosted, which launched this year, "spent two years in design space getting involved with various artists and supporting museum spaces. The gallery retail space is the next stage in that evolution, now that we have products coming to market." Boosted products are available at some of Boost Mobile's 23,000 wireless stores, as well as in several fashion stores, per Fewell.

Fewell says Boosted products are to Boost Mobile what Nike SB is to Nike, or Scion is to Toyota. Scion's agency of record, ATTIK, actually created the Boosted Web site, where the products and artists' work is on display. Boosted is also creating content for Boost phones, such as wallpaper versions of work from the artist community supported by Boosted.

"Boost is a small, experimental group. The broader strategy is that we can go and do some experimental things--and if they work, they result in a brand edge and cast light back on Boost. So, with the Boosted lifestyle accessories range, we aren't creating them just for Boosted--people will make the connection with Boost Mobile. We are extending outside the category, but still producing flowback results.

"A number of our retail outlets and dealers display artist graphics on merchandise and artwork in various stores; we also work with alternative retail--that is, retail that is not traditionally wireless." They include surf shop Sun Diego, which also sells Boost handsets and strategic marketing partnerships with the retail stores Active and Zumiez, "who are looking to carry our lifestyle accessory products," he says.

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