Marketing tips from a dreadlocked, barefoot busker

While in Queenstown, Regan Grafton Chief Creative Officer and Partner at Culture & Theory, found that sometimes lessons in great marketing can be found in the most surprising of places. Here, he unpacks how simple but smart storytelling makes a world of difference.


I was down in Queenstown a while ago when I stumbled across an unlikely marketing genius. 

As I walked along the boardwalk I passed an ensemble of buskers touting their musical skills to meandering tourists. However, one busker really stood out to me from the rest of the pack. His music was pretty good, not substantially better than the others, but he had a gaggle of tourists gathered around him. Not only were these tourists enjoying his music, they were dropping notes into his suitcase and buying his CDs (and really, who buys CDs these day?).

I was intrigued, so I ventured a little nearer. He wasn’t exactly putting a lot of effort into his appearance. Sporting dirty barefeet, a haphazard nest of dreadlocks and a graffiti covered, partly dismantled piano with wheel barrow wheels attached. 

This chap wasn’t Elton John, but as it turned out, he was an advertising genius. On closer inspection I realised he wasn’t just a busker, but a storyteller, PR and social media expert.

As I looked down on part of his dismantled piano I read ‘This piano came from the dump. I have restored, repaired and retuned it in an ongoing, self inflicted piano tuning apprenticeship. Thanks for listening! PS: All of the music I’m playing was composed by me, on this piano which now lives in my van.’ He also had pictures of the PR he had achieved, a website, his Spotify profile, how to join his newsletter, and a prompt on how to tag and share him on social media. 

This man was a busking and advertising genius.

What he had done was created an advantage by attaching a unique story to what he was selling. A story that added much more meaning and depth to his music compared to his competition. 

While other buskers were knocking out unmemorable tunes, this guy was giving his audience much more. He was giving them a story that they could take back to their home. A story which they would think of everytime they listened to his music. 

It was such a simple, but clear example of what brands need to do when they are fighting for attention against similar competitors. 

Never underestimate the effectiveness of great storytelling.

You can check out this unassuming musician and marketer here.

About Regan Grafton

Regan Grafton is Chief Creative Officer and Partner at Culture & Theory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.