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C-rap: the most talked about part of Canva Create isn’t the product (but it totally is) because of a song

- May 27, 2024 4 MIN READ
The Canva enterprise rap wraps
There’s a famous maxim in advertising, courtesy of industry legend David Ogilvy that: “If you have nothing to say, sing it”.

Combine that with Oscar Wilde’s observation that: “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”, and you have the defining moment of Canva Create, a rap song about the design company’s enterprise product.

It has everybody talking. Not all of them in a nice way. Still, ragging on a product launch song and dance is perhaps a blessed relief from other problems confronting the world right now.

But when your company is worth $39 billion, with A$3.5 billion in revenue from 20 million of your 185 million users, “f*ck ’em, who da billionaire here, bro?” is a reasonable response. Not that we can imagine Canva cofounder Cliff Obrecht putting it as bluntly as Startup Daily.

BTW, the Andy Allen who posted this is a startup guy, rather than Andy Allen, Masterchef judge.

Now there are a couple of things you need to know about Canva Create. The company’s annual product showcase moved from Sydney to Los Angeles last week as the software business looks to ramp up its appeal to US investors ahead of its float on the Nasdaq.

And an astonishing 2.5 million people – the population of Chicago – tuned in to watch the launch. Most TV execs would kill for those audience figures. It’s State of Origin levels.

In the last 72 hours more than a million have now watched the Canva rap via various social media channels. You can bet Canva’s marketing team are high-fiving each other today for creating “more than a little cute post to share”.

But when you’re in the cheap seats of social media, snark is about the only thing you can afford.

Some are comparing it to the Windows 95 launch in August of that year, when Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a bunch of middle-aged white dudes bounced around on stage to Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones, a song they paid US$3 million to use and seemed entirely prophetic when Jagger sings “you make a grown man cry”. But we think it’s more like the 2022 glories of Randi Zuckerberg’s “carpe your crypto diem” in explaining non-fungible tokens (remember them?) to the masses to the melody of Twisted Sister’s 80s anthem “We’re not gonna take it”.

Of course Elon Musk has been the poster boy of tech dancing in recent years, and Canva’s cofounders were wise enough to leave the dancing and backflips to the professionals.

Some 30 years after Gil Scott-Heron penned: “You suddenly gone lame/Or that white folks had/Finally co-opted your game” (Message to the Messengers), Canva has given the world “But what about me/Who is you?/A CIO from an enterprise, see?”

And while “You’ve opened up my eyes/To Canva Enterprise” is not quite Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”), there’s a certain poetry and talent that AI would struggle to create in rhyming “API? Custom solution” with “Yes the API is tailored for you so…”

Cliff Obrecht, Melanie Perkins

Canva cofounders Cliff Obrecht and Melanie Perkins

While there’s plenty of bagging going on, the 6.6 billion dollar man, Cliff Obrecht said on LinkedIn that the enterprise rap “was my favourite part of Canva create BY FAR” .

“Tech company product launches have essentially tried to be Steve Jobs launching the iPhone since that happened,” he wrote.

“We decided to be ourselves, do something different and not take ourselves too seriously. Haters gonna hate I hope like this guy suggests others add more entertainment value to their corporate events too. We certainly just getting started.”

Canva Create has always has an evangelical quality to it – Hillsong for graphic design. So the LA version was completely on brand for those Canvangelists.

And contrary to Ogilvy’s view, Canva had a lot to say about their product and a rap song was a clever way to do it. We bag corporates for being boring. This was fun.

The revolution will not be AI-designed.

Let’s be honest, who really wants to it through an hour-long presentation on LLMs, logs, SCIM, SSO, IP, permissions and security when you can get the headline takeaways in song? It’s like when Canadian Club asked “Who made beer the boss of summer?” before flicking the switch to Jimmy Nash’s 1972 hit “I can see clearly now”.

Personally, we’d like to see Cliff going full Nigel Tufnel design wizard to explain how, unlike Adobe’s enterprise design solutions, which only go to 10, Canva’s go to 11.

What’s worth noticing is the global media coverage the software powerhouse has generated from major business titles and further afield.

The Forbes headline declared Canva is “a challenger no more with revenue in billions” as it “cozies up to corporations with new tools”.

Variety noted that Disney CEO Bob Iger, an investor in the “Australian digital star”, was a keynote speaker, as Canva “targets Hollywood and big business“.

The Economic Times pointed to India as Canva’s fifth largest market as it “bets big on India“.

Today, there are dozens more media stories amplifying Canva’s product launch, including this one, because of the rap.

One person’s perceived schadenfreude is another’s marketing triumph.

What’s remarkable is that since launching its free online graphic design tool, Visual Suite in September 2022, Canva has nearly doubled its user numbers, adding 95 million new Canvangelists.

On top of that 95% of Fortune 500 companies are users, and Canva is predicting 40% growth over the next 12 months as it looks to IPO in the US.

Canva is being talked about.

And cofounders Obrecht, Melanie Perkins and Cameron Adams could borrow from the apocryphal tale of the Irishman Oscar Wilde being asked if he had anything to declare by a customs officer in New York in 1882.

He rapped: “I have nothing to declare except my genius”.