It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Pharrell is having a moment. He put out an Oscar-nominated radio hit (“Happy”); he cried on Oprah; and of course, he graced the cover of Fast Company, along with his productivity tips. He has even proven that he can pull off goofy headwear. By all measures he is killing it.
But we may have reached a Pharrell tipping point with his latest branding move.
The superstar has partnered with Bic to help it sell, of all things, its Wite-Out pen Tipp-Ex with a “participatory book.” The story goes: Pharrell wrote a book titled Inspiration that somehow got defaced by a bear with a Wite-Out pen. He crossed out “thousands” of words. You the Pharrell fan and potential Bic customer can help fix the manuscript by playing along in this interactive book here. You fill in the words and if you are the first to guess right, your name will be credited in Pharrell’s real book.
There’s so much weird to address here: Where did this bear come from? Why didn’t Pharrell keep an extra copy on his computer? Why is he selling Wite-Out? But, perhaps most frustrating is that the Social Book doesn’t work very well. Every time I tried to submit a word I had to click a bunch of times. When I finally got it wrong, it would take me to a bizarre bear montage. When another Fast Company writer got one right, the site said someone else had already found it. Our dreams of being “credited” in Pharrell Williams’s book are being crushed by the second.
There is one aspect of this that does seem to have the Pharrell touch. Once the book is finished, printed, and sold, all proceeds will go to an organization supporting disadvantaged children as they attempt to “rewrite their lives.” Which, yeah, even if this partnerships makes little sense, and it went a little overboard on the whole “social” Internet thing, that’s sweet. So maybe we haven’t reached peak Pharrell, after all.