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Long-time Bruce Springsteen guitarist, Little Steven Van Zandt, has
gone from doing interviews with “Rolling Stone” to doing them for
“Advertising Age.” Why would one of the the world’s largest marketing
publications want to interview the bandana-adorning, leather pants-
clad fifty-eight year old E-Street Band guitarist? Because he just
signed a deal with global entertainment marketing company, IMG, for a
worldwide marketing pact that will include him being an ad pitchman
for the first time.
It’s interesting that Little Steven is so willfully diving into the
marketing waters, when his musical “Boss” is one of the last few
musicians who remain steadfastly opposed to engaging in any marketing
efforts of any kind – despite being offered tens of millions to do so
over the years. But Springsteen is from the old-school mindset where
corporate partnership was frowned upon and seen as “selling out”
within the music community. And of course, being worth hundreds of
millions may make it slightly easier to reject marketing offers.
Although he’s from the same rock n roll era as Bruce, Mr. Van Zandt
doesn’t have any such qualms about partnering with brands. He views
it as a way to stay “visible” and thinks that it will be “natural.”
This disposition is representative of the changing mindset amongst old
school rockers who now see corporate partnerships for what they are –
viable platforms in an increasingly fragmented and specialized
climate. And with a bank account not quite the size of Springsteen’s,
Little Steven also no doubt sees it as as an easy way to make some
extra cash for more bandanas and leather pants.
With significant forays into television and radio already on his
resume, corporate partnership seems like a natural evolution for the
Jersey gypsy. His unique persona and entertainment credits could
definitely provide value to some brands. And the right marketing
ventures could net a bigger audience for his radio show, land a
network deal for the TV pilot he’s pitching, and maybe even generate
enough general interest in him to resurrect his own old band, Little
Steven and the Disciples of Soul.
And if not, he always has his day job playing guitar in front of
millions of adoring fans for one of the most famous (and highest-
grossing) backing rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time. I guess that’s not
such a bad gig either.