Music Dealers


Use Your Illusion
December 4, 2008, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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?

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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.

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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.

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