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Have you seen the latest TV spot from one of the largest financial institutions in the world?
I realize the current economic climate has let to tough times for big corporations. But is Citbank really in this much of dire straits that they were forced to use as the central component of a mass multi-media campaign…..Nickelback?
I mean, Nickelback? Seriously? Were Creed and 3 Doors Down busy?
And in what universe is Nickelback playing to a sold-out crowd that large where two unfortunate Nickelback fans can’t even find an open seat? Are they opening for the Stones?
Putting the flimsy concept of the TV spot and inane online contest aside (contest entrants are prompted to complete Nickelback song lyrics…and are then “rewarded” by getting to hear a complete Nickelback song…and get entered for a chance to go to three Nickelback shows) – how could a company as big as Citibank actually land on a band as generic, undescript, dated, and hated as Nickelback for the centerpiece of a mass campaign?
Sure, sure – Nickelback has moved some records and charted some singles in the past. But they represent the absolute bottom of creativity and credibility in music today, and are loathed by the vast majority of music fans. Is this really the type of “artist” you want representing your company? Is it worth appealing to the Nickelback fanbase at the expense of alienating everyone else? Out of the hundreds of edgier, hipper, or even safer bands out there, this is what you choose? Even an unknown act would at least add an element of intrigue and coolness. Or a well-known higher-quality band would at least bring some credibility and a solid built-in fan base. And even a complete cheese-ball, has-been band like Candelbox or Warrant would at least inject some ironic humor and tongue-in-cheek value into the campaign. But Nickelback???
I’ll give Citibank some cred for using Mary J. Blige as the other artist of this campaign. Some. But it’s unfathomable that they’ve used Nickelback as the “rock” or “white” or “cool” or “youth” or whatever-they-were-going-for component of the campaign. If brands are supposed to be seen as aspirational and modern to their consumers – and successful brand/music partnerships are all about the fit between the brand and the music – then what does it say that Citi has chosen a band like Nickelback to represent it? Do you really want to entrust your financial matters with a brand like this?
But, what do I know. Maybe Citi discovered a large enough white space out there for clueless, tasteless, uninspired machismo males who are in the market for a new credit card and who have trouble getting primo seats for a Nickelback show, that it doesn’t mind turning off the rest of the population….and the joke’s on me.
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With the release of his latest album this month, it seems appropriate
to give props to the partnership that’s been forged between Chicago-
based rapper, Common, and multi-billion dollar corporation,
Microsoft. The following article details this alliance, and also
touches on how attitudes have changed towards brand/music partnerships
– specifically in regards to urban music.
It’s interesting that Common points to the Sprite commercials of the
mid-90s as the turning point for negative perceptions changing within
the hip-hop community towards music acts partnering with
corporations. Many of these spots featured a soft product sell and
looked more like a music video than a commercial, laying the
groundwork for these video/commercial hybrids that are popular today.
They were truly ahead of their time.
Now back to the Microsoft/Common partnership. Let’s see here…
A natural fit between the artist and brand? Check.
A fully integrated campaign that leverages all available platforms?
A partnership that’s beneficial to both the brand and the artist?
This is what happens when music and brands combine forces with a
focused, well-thought, strategic plan. This is how brands and music
can work together. This is how it should be done
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More proof that bands ain’t nothin but brands these days – our long lost friend, Axl Rose, is suing Dr. Pepper. For “failing to deliver on its promise to give out free sodas.” Or is that really why?
Of course, this is in regards to Dr. Pepper’s p.r. stunt to give everyone in America a free can of Dr. Pepper if “Chinese Democracy” was released. Dr. Pepper likely originally viewed this solely as free publicity stunt not thinking the album would ever actually see the light of day. But to their – and nearly everyone’s – surprise, Axl either finally ran out of money or “Cool Hand Luke” samples – and the album was finally released on November 23. So Dr. Pepper was forced to fulfill their promise, which they did for the most part…with a few hiccups in between such as crashing servers and busy 1-800-numbers that caused consumers to work a little harder for their free can of soda.
But apparently, these complications were enough to upset this rocker, who once crooned about the virtues of patience, and enough so to use it as the basis for a lawsuit. Afterall, despite taking decades between albums and regularly appearing hours late for concerts (if at all) – he’s always looking out for the good of the people, right?
Well, a reading of the letter from Axl’s lawyer reveals why Axl is actually upset. And it’s not because the poor citizens of America didn’t get their free can of Dr. Pepper. It’s because he didn’t get paid. The letter states that Dr. Pepper exploited the singer’s reputation and that “payment would be sought for the unauthorized use of the Guns N Roses brand.”
So, although Axl’s team deems Dr. Pepper’s fumbling of the promotion an “unmitigated disaster which defrauded customers” and is demanding that Dr. Pepper run a full-page apology in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, and extend a redemption window for its free-soda offer – they’re essentially using this all as a guise to re-coup a profit for the promotion. A promotion which Axl originally claimed to be “surprised and very happy to have the support of Dr Pepper with our album ‘Chinese Democracy'” when he first heard about it.
But that was then and this is Axl Rose. Now, the man wants to get paid. And you know what? He is right. Dr. Pepper did associate themselves with Guns N Roses and attempt to capitalize on “Chinese Democracy” without permission. And as Axl is smart enough to realize, Guns N Roses is only a brand name now, much like Lollapalooza, MTV, and Britney Spears. If in the real business world, Brand A associated themselves with Brand B without authorization – and somehow harmed Brand B, then Brand A would surely be looking at a similar lawsuit as the one Dr. Pepper has been served.
Of course it’s debatable what damage Dr. Pepper did to G N R – if any at all. In fact it could be argued, they actually helped the brand by giving the album free publicity. And sure, maybe Axl did seem cool with this at first, but he’s not exactly known as the most stable of people. So perhaps it would’ve been wise for Dr. Pepper to get something in writing. And maybe Axl is trying to hide the real impetus for the lawsuit behind the facade of consumers not getting their free sodas. But that’s smart business and savvy p.r., and what any other intelligent brand would do.
So, although it may be hard to swallow – Axl is right. Although he may not be the most time-efficient or easy-going of guys, he proves that he’s at least a smart businessman (or has hired people who are smart businessman), and is aware that Guns N Roses is nothing but a brand these days. And is only doing what he can to protect the brand image and ensure he is paid when others attempt to capitalize on his brand. All of which again proves that big bands are nothing but brands themselves – and like any successful brand, they have an appetite for more than just destruction.