Tag Archives: sponsorship

Salty in Austin

Once upon a time, certainly back in 1987, the SXSW event was about music.

Sure, there is still music in Austin today.

But SXSW has changed, as essentially every corporation that can somehow find a tie in manages to be on display.  (Arguably this is done because the people who work at said car makers or consumer electronics companies want to attend so they have cleverly convinced their bosses that it is essential to “connect” with the people who are at SXSW, so they get a full-blown ticket to ride.  Sure, they might have to do some crappy scut work along the way, but given the alternative—as in working in an office—going to Austin is a whole lot better.)

SXSW is now, perhaps, about salty snack food.

Austin may have been known for barbeque.  But Stubb’s might as well give up.

Doritos is the thing.  And it is such a thing that the brand that is under PepsiCo created a 56-foot vending machine as part of the launch of Doritos JACKED.

“Before we bring this amped up Doritos snacking experience to consumers nationwide, we wanted to take it right to our fans here at South by Southwest to try it first,” said Ram Krishnan, vp of marketing, Frito-Lay North America.

Which leads me to wonder: is eating a bag of chips—even a chip that “delivers a one-two punch of intense flavors upfront followed by a twist of spice or tanginess that packs the ultimate crunch”—an experience?  Are you experienced?  Sure, just had some Doritos.

Then who in the world is a “fan” of a snack chip?  Are there people who get together and argue about what’s better, Doritos or Cheetos, sort of like the Beatles vs. Stones?

To be fair, it should be noted that the 56-foot vending machine also serves as the “JACKED Stage by Doritos,” so it will be a concert platform as well as an object that will accept “larger-than-life Doritos-branded quarters.”

Of course it is.

The Vehicular Return of Another Bad Band

Ford S-MAX Titanium

In case you were wondering, as the reformed Spandau Ballet rolls through Ireland and the U.K. this month as part of its “Reformation Tour” (clever, eh: reformed, reformation—that’s the kind of stuff that makes the band what it is), it will be doing so in Ford S-MAX Titanium vehicles. As lead singer and evident car whore Tony Hadley puts it of the S-MAX Titanium 2.0TDCi Automatic that he’s been driving for the past few months (we’re guessing he didn’t pay retail), “I wanted a car that was stylish and comfortable for long journeys, and the S-MAX fits the bill perfectly.” Right.

Or maybe that should be “True.”

Spandau Ballet: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

Driven to Distraction, Part II

Eco partnerPart I ran back in a more innocent age. Eight years ago. In 2001. Pre-9/11. Back when car companies, including Honda, were selling cars with bootless abandon. Since then, there has been a greater level of solemnity. And one of the Big Three is now in bankruptcy, and another would be there right now if the president didn’t know that the economy would be teetering with a greater amplitude than it already is if GM did fall into reorganization.

But some things never change. Back then the issue was Honda sponsoring the “Civic Tour.” But now we are proud to report than Honda is one of the twelve sponsors of Lollapalooza 2009 and one of ten for the Austin City Limits Festival. It isn’t the “automotive” sponsor. No, it is an “Eco partner.” That’s right: a green partner. Says Tom Peyton, senior manager of Honda national advertising: “Many Honda customers are passionate about music and they care deeply about the environment. As an Eco-partner at these great music festivals Honda can help make being ‘green’ entertaining and fun.”

Continue reading Driven to Distraction, Part II

This B[r]and Is Brought To You By…

Enjoy DystopiaDuring a trip to Las Vegas last week I saw one of those things that is both initially startling and subsequently blindingly obvious. The Luxor hotel and casino, a massive, shining black pyramid on the Strip (who’d want to stay in such a funerary structure outside someone with an interest in the novels of Ann Rice and was hoping to get lucky?), had on one of the faces of the 350-foot high structure, an Absolut vodka ad. At first it seemed odd that the MGM Mirage people would give up that space for an ad. It sort of seemed a bit tacky. But then I realized where I was.

And it led to the idea: In the future all surfaces will be advertising.

Continue reading This B[r]and Is Brought To You By…

Caressing the Corporations

As the number of artists and tours that are sponsored by such asinine things as car companies multiplies, it’s good to remember those great shows you saw back in the day, before going to see a band identified you as a potential customer. For me, it all goes back to two defining shows, my first and my foremost.

My first was Bruce Springsteen at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the “Tunnel of Love Tour.” Yes, that’s right, it wasn’t the “Chevy Silverado presents the Snap Into A Slim Jim Tunnel of Love Corona Summer Beach Party on MTV Tour in conjunction with Deloitte and Touche.” It was just a tour, not part of some stupid “festival” (marketing-speak for just another way to cram more salesman into every nook and cranny of available space at your local outdoor amphitheater). Just a single great artist with about the only sponsor being the local Bud distributor. Best of all, the total Ticketmaster service fee was a hell of a lot less than the 50% it seems to run to these days. (In fact, somewhere I still have the ticket stub so I’m going to have to check on that—it could provide some interesting historical proof of the world’s biggest scam.)

Oh yeah, you people will holler about the fact that even back in 1987 there was a commensurate amount of corporate greed that no doubt tainted the Boss’ tour compared to the Glory Days back in Jersey. But it was far less insidious—who can fault the Anheuser-Busch rep for going after a market that’s primed for its product. There are clearly beer sales to be made at the Bruce show; that’s marketing where it makes sense. But pissing away money on image advertising, where there is no potential sales connection, is outright stupid. And it’s an insult to the fans—of both artist and product. To the point of the previous post: Nasty Janet and Wolfie ought to be embarrassed.

The fave show of my youth was Metallica’s first headliner. The “Justice Tour” of 1989 was an absolutely amazing display of all that is great about rock. It was held at an outdoor venue, Val Du Lakes in Mears, Mich. Still to this day I have never seen a more antisocial crowd than the collection of bikers, stoners, mullet-heads, rebellious kids, and general reprobates that attended this concert. The fans would have sooner burned the place to the ground than been identified as consumers. I saw a guy eat a sheet of acid and then smack his face on one of the hard wood benches in the reserved area. He just licked the blood as it trickled onto his lips and continued cackling, laughing and dancing. Throughout the show, people came running down the hill, throwing themselves at the wooden fence that separated the reserved area from general admission. They fought with security guards with bottles, belts and chains. And then there were the booted thugs who smashed cars after the show, screaming the lyrics to Metallica’s cover of the Misfits’ “Last Caress.” Yeah, “I got something to say. I killed your baby today. Doesn’t matter much to me, as long as it’s dead. I got something to say. I raped your mother today. Doesn’t matter much to me, as long as she’s spread.”

Gee, I wonder where the corporate sponsors were?

Now I’m not saying I necessarily advocate the pointless violence and brutality, the sado-masochism and anarchy of the Metallica crowd. But fuck it, those people are the only hope we’ve got: Rock’s essence is senseless rebellion against corporate AmeriKKKa. More power to them; hopefully they smash a few Jaguars wherever they are now. Wherever it is, it ain’t at Metallica shows. I’ve attended a couple since then and the crowd has become completely different, as has the band. They still play the old favorites, but not to any of the old fans. Good. At least those marginalized people, unlike the rest of us mainstreamers, have the sense not to give the music-industry power structure any more of their hard-earned (or stolen) cash.

Bottom line to all this is I’m glad I went to see a few big shows. I’m glad I pissed away a few bucks to make local radio stations, beer companies, cigarette companies, and the ubiquitous T-shirt companies some jack. But Ford Motor Company can go to hell. So can Barry Diller. So can DTE Energy and everyone else who incorrectly thinks that their wack corporation has any place or should play any role in the music business. I listen to music and I like to see it performed live. I like to think about music and write about it. But I don’t drive music, I don’t wear music, I don’t eat music, and I certainly don’t shop because of music.

“I got something to say. I didn’t buy into your marketing today. Doesn’t matter much to me. . . ”

All For Who?

In our on-going efforts to track the nexus between Big Business and Bigger Business, we’ve discovered still another development. As you may recall, Jaguar had been using rock superslug Sting to promote its cars, demonstrating how the Jag can lull Sting to sweet dreams of rainforests or more song-writing gigs for cartoon movies.

But now we’ve learned that Jag is sponsoring Janet Jackson’s “All For You World Tour 2001.” Well, that may not be exactly right: there is a “partnership,” such that those considering the tour will see Jag in the tour title, advertising, promotion, publicity, and even the ducats. Undoubtedly looking something like a NASCAR race with a single sponsor, there will be X-Type display logos all around the venues.

Says Michelle Cervantez, vp of Marketing for Jaguar North America: “Jaguar’s relationship with Janet Jackson is a powerful statement of our intentions to become more accessible to a new generation of Jaguar owners.” Yep. All those people who buy tour T-shirts are undoubtedly going to make their way to dealers, post-haste.

In addition to all of the aforementioned signage and even a car at the venues, concert goers will be subjected to a “video” featuring Janet and a black X-Type. (I am not making this up.) Presumably said video is more commonly known as a “commercial.”

But this isn’t just any run-of-the-mill spot. It was produced by Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. According to renown Knicks fan Mr. Lee, “Our partnership has assisted Jaguar in communicating to a more diverse audience. This project is a direct result of that strengthening relationship.” The “relationship” he is referring to is a “marketing partnership” between Jaguar North America and 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, which was established in April. Which presumably means that since Nike spots aren’t what they once were, Lee will be creating ads for Jag. (Ah, what about, oh, making movies?)

So let’s review. Sting. Everclear. Aerosmith. Janet. I’m throwing my vote in for GloNo partnering with some automaker. Any suggestions, Sab?

“Buy, buy, buy”

Here I am, reading the newspaper on a Monday morning. . . .

I see an ad for Verizon. Which, I discover, is sponsoring the Nsync tour. Fine. Presumably teenage girls can rack up more minutes on their limited dialing plan than their parents can afford. But those ads for credit cards that can be yours regardless of whether you have two nickels to your name have to appeal to someone. . . . Do they have debtors’ prisons any more? Do they let you have cell phones there?

Then I see a small feature story about how there is a “#1 Fan Barbie,” with the plastic fetish shilling Nsync. It’s the first time said übermodeldoll has ever had such a tie-in (although one can only suspect that there are multitudinous non-official tie-ins that have nothing to do with what Ken would find appropriate). Is there a limit to the number of Barbies that any little girl can own (I don’t even want to think of the grown women who have trouble arranging their Barbies in light of their more recent Beanie Babies obsession: manufactured housing only has a limited number of spaces for knick-knacks—or is that “treasures”?)? Do they have debtors’ prisons any more? Do they let you bring your “little friends”?

There is a disturbing trend here.

Driven to Distraction

I’ve been accused—and Jeff will undoubtedly underline this in a big way—of writing too much about Honda. But discovering that there is something called the “Civic Tour,” finding that it is split in two, with the second half being designated “v.2001.2,” and reading this line: “The Civic Tour allows Honda to reach out to our younger consumers through the music of today’s hottest bands, proving that the re-designed Civic is a perfect fit for their lifestyle” from Eric Conn, Honda assistant vp, Auto Advertising, I can’t resist. Half one is headlined by blink-182. v.2001.2 is headlined by Everclear. The boys in that band will be touring with three Civic coupes that are painted “with black and orange stars and stripes, echoing the cover design from their most recent CD, ‘Songs from an American Movie, Vol. Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude.'” Should we all pause and say “Wow!”?

Something called “marketingfactoryinc.” set up the tour. It “created and produced audio content-based promotions for the Vans Warped Tour, Spin Magazine and ChickClick.com, while also servicing Yahoo!Music, Sony Playstation, Diamond Rio, Wherehouse Music, OP, Eruptor Entertainment and EIDOS Interactive.” “Audio content based?” “Servicing”? Is this the Terminator meets e.e. cummings?

Oh, for the days when I didn’t have to figure out how the hell Everclear proves that the Civic isn’t a good car but a lifestyle choice.