Tag Archives: commercials

Listen to the Sound of Income

While it has been quite some time since I have been in a movie theater, the remembrance of sitting in a seat waiting for the show to begin is something that sticks with me for the simple reason that (1) when going to a theater with general admission I would generally get there sufficiently early such that I would be able to get a seat that didn’t put me in a spot where the sightlines were less-than ideal (e.g., off to the side or in a row near to the screen that would require an uncomfortable neck torque for a not-inconsiderable amount of time) and (2) theaters, which make more money off of concessions (i.e., pre-pandemic, theater chains made about 50% on the price of a ticket and 80% on the concessions, so if you want to know why that bucket of popcorn takes a bucket of cash to buy, there it is), decided that given the captive audience, selling ads to play before the trailers was a lucrative move.

You might imagine that because you are paying to see something specific (i.e., the movie) you would not be subjected to watching something that the proprietor is making money on. To be sure, for years pre-movie there would be the cartoon of the hotdog, beverage and popcorn box strutting across the screen encouraging you to go get a snack, but it got to the point that you were encouraged to do everything from joining the Army to buying car insurance. And while those ads tended to be well produced, there are even those sold locally to plastic surgeons and car dealers that appear to have been shot and produced by someone’s Uncle Gus.

According to SiriusXM, “SiriusXM is unique because we stay true to the artists and their music by broadcasting 100% commercial-free music. So, unlike traditional radio, all of our original music channels have no commercials – ever!” However, elsewhere it acknowledges, “While all of our music channels are 100% commercial free, subscribers may hear commercials on some of the Sports, Talk and News channels.” That verb may, expressing possibility, is a bit of a dodge. What’s more, while the music channels are without commercials in the sense of things that are promoting the goods and services of a third party, there are more than a few interruptions on the music channels trying to get you to listen to the Billy Joel Channel or a special, limited-duration channel from some performer that you’d prefer Novocain-free dental work rather than listening to. What SiriusXM is doing is trying to keep you within its sphere so that it is going to make money from subscription renewals. Realize that they have built out an infrastructure (e.g., satellites, office buildings) that needs to be maintained, to say nothing of the contract with Howard Stern that is said to be worth as much as $100-million a year through 2025. You need a lot of subscribers to support that kind of outgo.

On February 22, Spotify conducted its “Stream On” event, which it describes as how it “is continuing to go all in on the limitless power of audio—the opportunity and the potential it represents for Spotify, creators, and fans everywhere around the world.

Continue reading Listen to the Sound of Income

“The Middle”

One of the all-time best Super Bowl commercials, and certainly the best-ever ad for a car company, was aired 10 years ago during Super Bowl XLV. The ad, known both as “Born of Fire” and “Imported from Detroit,” shows Eminem rolling through the streets of Detroit. The images were not all chamber-of-commerce shiny and bright. The edge nature of the crumbling environment, a situation that led to people visiting to see the post-industrial archelogy in front of their eyes (not exactly Pompei-like ruins, but certainly not necessarily a place you’d like to take a Sunday walk). The soundtrack is an instrumental version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” He is driving what was then a new Chrysler 200.

You see the Robert Graham “Monument to Joe Louis,” a sculpture that is better known around these parts as “The Fist,” which is located at the foot of Woodward at Jefferson, and you know that Detroit is not a city that is like any other.

Eminem drives the 200 to the Fox Theatre, a classic movie house opened in 1928 and completely rehabilitated by the company that owns Little Caesar’s Pizza (yes, that is from Detroit, as is Domino’s), where the marque outside reads “Keep Detroit Beautiful.” The narrator to that point had talked about how Detroit isn’t New York, Chicago, Vegas, “And we’re certainly no one’s Emerald City.”

He walks down an aisle of the theater, which has long been a music venue rather than a movie house, and on the stage there’s the Selected of God choir, wearing their Sunday robes and singing, as the instrumental “Lose Yourself” builds.

Eminem turns to the camera, accusatorially points his finger, and says, “This is the Motor City and this is what we do.”

“God damn right,” Detroiters everywhere nodded.

Continue reading “The Middle”

Music, Politics & Iggy on a Cruise Line

So a question is to what extent does a musician “own” her or his music, not necessarily in a legal sense–which is certainly more than a trivial consideration vis-à-vis the livelihood of people–but in that the music represents, one suspects, though can’t be certain of*, what that person’s beliefs are.

This thought occurred as a result of the law suit filed in the Southern District of New York by Neil Young against the Trump campaign for the campaign’s unauthorized use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk.”

Other musicians who have objected—not all in court—against the use of their material by the Trump campaign over the years include Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Pharrell Williams, Tom Petty (his estate) and The Rolling Stones.

Which brings me back to the original question. Why does an organization like Trump’s campaign think that those musicians in any way represent the thinking, beliefs or social mores of Donald Trump? Aren’t many of these people antithetical to that?

Would, say, the Biden campaign use—unauthorized or otherwise—music from Ted Nugent or Toby Keith?

Music is a fundamental part of our culture. As such it reflects, in many ways, our values.

While one could argue that music has long been co-opted for reasons political and, more substantially, commercial. For example, right now you can hear “Magic” by Pilot in a TV commercial for diabetes drug Ozembic and Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” in a spot for Anoro, which is a COPD medication.

And who can forget the soundtrack for a Royal Caribbean cruise line ad from a few years back: Iggy’s “Lust for Life”? A waterslide? An endless buffet? Umbrella drinks? Sandals, socks, Bermuda shorts and overstuffed swimsuits?

In those cases, of course, the songwriters are undoubtedly being compensated for their work, and it is hard to imagine a political case being made against ads for medications (unless, of course, one is anti “Big Pharma,” which Trump has declared himself to be, so one wonders what pop song his people will roll out for that position—the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”: “And all the politicians making crazy sounds. . . “?).

One interesting aspect of the Neil Young situation is that it wasn’t until January of this year that he became an American citizen. “Rockin’ in the Free World” was released in 1989. “Devil’s Sidewalk” was released in 2003.

Which means that the Trump campaign has been not only music from a man who does not reflect or support the candidate’s ostensible positions, but from a man who was, at the time he released those songs, was a foreigner. And we know how Trump feels about them.

*This is problematic in some regards as let’s face it: many songs are written about fictional situations so it is impossible to say that anyone is making authentic statements in their songs, as it may simply be a reflection of what seems to be relevant in the market at the time of composition.

Continue reading Music, Politics & Iggy on a Cruise Line

No Comedians. No Coffee. But Cars. And Sting.

Even if you have absolutely no interest in the auto industry, lately you’ve probably heard something about the potential tie-up and subsequent unraveling and just-maybe tying the knot between FCA and Groupe Renault. You can’t buy a new Renault (or Dacia or Alpine) in the U.S. market. But you can buy FCA products to your heart’s content: Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Alfa Romeo. . .and Fiat (the “F” in FCA, with the “C” standing for Chrysler).

Fiat is the brand that has on offer the Fiat 500, the diminutive two-door with the arc-like profile. When it was brought to the U.S. market, the woman who was heading the brand in the U.S. then, Laura Soave, said, “Like the original Cinquecento a half-century ago, the new Fiat 500 changes the rules of personal transportation and delivers a new sense of individual expression and opportunity. At a time when America is getting back to basics with a fresh awareness of the environment around, the new Fiat 500 identifies with today’s minimalistic attitude and delivers with state-of-the-art eco-friendly technology wrapped in world-class quality, craftsmanship and style.”

Unfortunately, the 500 in the U.S. market proved to be pretty much not more than a novelty act, one of those things that you see once and never really need to again, but in this case it was a matter of people initially glomming onto it and then showing nothing but disinterest. That is, for all of 2018 FCA sold 5,370 Fiat 500s in the U.S. If you add in the derivatives, the 500L at 1,413 and the 500X at 5,223, the total in terms of vehicle sales is rather abysmal. Arguably, in this age where the Green New Deal is something garnering attention, there is no less “awareness of the environment around,” but the 500 is no longer part of that “back to basics” approach.

Yet the 500 motors on, especially in Europe, where the company turns out model after model with new takes, with two of the most recent being named—and this is real—the “Star” and the “Rockstar.”
Those who buy either of those models will find that there is a BeatsAudio sound system. And for what I imagine is a limited time, those buying a Star or Rockstar will get six months of Apple Music free.

To launch the models, the Leo Burnett Creative Agency developed an ad that was shot in Barcelona and uses, as its soundtrack, “Just One Lifetime” by Shaggy and Sting.

Several years ago, Sting was in a commercial for Jaguar. His physical presence has a cameo now in an ad for Fiat.

Jaguar. Fiat.

Of course, Sting was once in a band named The Police.

The question in the Jaguar ad was “What does a rock star dream of?”

Probably not the Fiat 500 Rockstar.

Continue reading No Comedians. No Coffee. But Cars. And Sting.

You Know I’m A Dreamer: How The New Kia Commercial Makes Motley Crue Look Impotent

The other day at work, I took some time from my mundane duties to each lunch and get a bit of light Yahoo news. You have to be selective when it comes to your “non-business related” surfing time.

For example, I clicked on a news link once that brought me to a website that was locally related to the article I was reading. From that website, I noticed another article mentioning how a local resident was caught molesting a farm animal.

If you’re a normal, red-blooded American, you can probably guess where my mouse pointed. Of course, I wanted to read about the guy from Alabama that was messing with a pony.

Instinctively, I clicked the story hyperlink, only to be immediately met by my company’s automatic tattle-tale IT security warning window, advising me that my website of choice was not allowed as the word “bestiality” was not related to any job duties within the organization and that my attempt to access such a site would be duly noted.

Fear raced as I began to look for excuses to try and explain to the IT police and human resources why I tried to click on a link to a story about a dude caught with his pants down in the horse stable.

Would I be forever known as the guy that got fired for looking at bestiality porn? Would it become something of legend, replacing the truth until my termination story was due to my own encounter with a farm animal on company property? I should note that my employer is close to a community college with an active agricultural program, so the chance encounter with livestock and farm animals is entirely possible.

Nothing ever came from my bad choices in internet news sites, but I am a bit more selective when it comes to browsing the internet on my work computer.

I visit Yahoo because it seems like a nice homogenized place where people can gather across the country, read incredibly fluffy bits of journalism, and then comment about the inordinate amount of liberal staff members that Yahoo has, spreading their icky little socialist propaganda all over their website.

If that isn’t fucking ridiculous enough, the amount of time all this worthless shit takes to load on my work computer is. The Clash were right, so I mutter “workin’ for the clampdown” as I eat my chicken bacon ranch wrap from the cafeteria while the Yahoo homepage loads on my screen.

All of this so I can read about why we care about Donald Trump’s announcement of his GOP endorsement.

But it’s taking longer to load on this day as I notice that the hang up is due to some Flash advertisement that’s attempting to load before I can even see the story links.

Suddenly, an image of Tommy Lee, that pony-dick drummer from Motley Crue, slides across my screen, followed by the corpse that is Mick Mars, then Nikki “A paramedic saved my life” Sixx and finally Vince Neil, which had me worried that his image might prompt a security warning for attempting to access chicks with dicks website.

But no. All of this Motley Crue Flash activity was not promoting the new album by the Crue, nor was it to remind me that the band was going on tour again, probably performing the exact same setlist they played on their last one.

It was for Kia.

For a band that really hyped up their image as Harley-Davidson riding bad boys, it seemed strange that the band would choose to cash in with South Korea’s second largest automobile manufacturer.

The power to surprise, indeed.

It wasn’t until I saw the actual television ad that I got the full impact of the commercial.

The Cliffs Note version goes like this: Middle age white schmuck consumes enough anti-depressants and Vicodin to believe that he is still the same badass that he was in the 11th Grade when he spent all of his money earned at Burger King on an ’84 Ford EXP with 98,000 miles and a factory cassette deck.

Fast forward some twenty-five years later and this same sad bastard is using his rapid eye memory believing that a Kia Optima is somehow his “dream car for real life.”

I’m sorry, but where I come from one of our hometown heroes drove a ’69 Plymouth Superbird and any Asian car was referred to as a “rice burner.”

No, there would be no convincing my blue-collar brethren that anything with a Kia nameplate, and shame on Motley Crue for trying to suggest otherwise.

If you haven’t heard one of Nikki Sixx’s endless recounting, “Kickstart My Heart” is the story about that aforementioned paramedic who continued to apply shocks to Sixx’s chest after he long expired from a heroin overdose.

Now it seems that Sixx is due for another zap--or at least a head-exploding roundhouse kick to the head from Chuck Liddell--to remind him that these decisions of product placement are only as good the current model year.  By Super Bowl XLVII, the Crue will be less known for their history of rock’s premier bad boys and more for their love of fuel-efficient family sedans.

Had the middle-aged sleeper really strived for the life of the Crue’s storied decadence, he would have crashed that Kia into the Hanoi Rocks tour bus, stolen the pixie dust from Mr. Sandman and Hoovered up all that glittery blow off the ass of one of those scantily clad chicks in the NASCAR stands.

Because if any self-respecting Crue fan even considers signing a down payment check for any model of Kia, they need to be reminded of how they’re also signing off on their own do not resuscitate order.

Which is exactly what Motley Crue has done with this commercial and what I have done with my lunch break.

Ad: “A Dream Car. For Real Life.” — 2012 Kia Optima Big Game Full Commercial

“And my Fiat will go on and on…”

Quick: What comes to mind when you think of Jennifer Lopez?

No, not that. But what do you think of her as regards her profession?

As in: singer, actress, TV reality show judge.

But that’s only scratching the surface because according to Chrysler Group, which is featuring Ms. Lo in a series of commercials for the Fiat 500, she is an “actress, entertainer, philanthropist and entrepreneur.”

Guess they forgot poet, particle physicist, and shrewd judge of character.

Some even argue that when Celine Dion was emoting in a Chrysler Pacifica (no, we don’t blame you if you don’t remember the car and if you’re trying not to remember the Titanic theme song) there was a better fit.

According to Olivier Francois, head of Fiat and chief marketing officer and brand marketing communications for Chrysler, and an otherwise smart guy whom I’ve had the opportunity to talk with, “The primary objective of ‘My World’ [the name of the commercial] was to explore the story of Jennifer Lopez, who is a cultural icon. [Drat! Left it off the list.] We watch as she leaves Manhattan and makes her way back to the Bronx, where she grew up and continues to be inspired by.”

What this has to do with a diminutive Italian car that’s built in Mexico for sale in places including the Bronx—scratch that, there is a Fiat dealership in Brooklyn, but not the Bronx—is quite puzzling. Is one to aspire to the car or to Ms. Lo’s lifestyle?

New Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Super Bowl Ad: Black Betty

Video: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Black Betty” (VW ad)

Volkswagen Beetle 2011 Super Bowl XLV television commercial

It all comes back to the intersection of art and commerce… Or rather: cars and rock and roll. Over the past ten years we’ve spent a lot of time discussing what it means when a band puts its music in a commercial. From the Clash to Sting, Nick Drake to the Mooney Suzuki, Iggy Pop to Of Montreal, Led Zeppelin to Wilco. As Mac said so eloquently in 2005, we’re all Sometimes Reluctant Hookers.

Ten years on, the concept of “selling out” doesn’t even exist anymore. Which is probably fine, since neither does the concept of “buying music.”

So congratulations to Jon Spencer for getting his band on a Volkswagen ad. A Super Bowl ad, no less! Soon to be iconic, I’m sure.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, MOG, wiki

Continue reading New Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Super Bowl Ad: Black Betty

1971 Woolworth Stereo Spectacular Ad

Video: 1971 Woolworth TV commercial for LPs

This awesome ad showcases just how terrible mainstream music has always been, even back in the groovy early seventies, just two years after Woodstock. Baby Boomers all like to pretend everybody was separating their weed on copies of Rolling Stone and listening to “real music” like Led Zeppelin and the Stones, but that’s far from reality. What were people actually listening to? Herb Alpert, Petula Clark, and the Association. At least they only had to pay $1.57. Nice to know that almost 40 years later you can still pick up near-mint copies of any of those records for the exact same price at your local Goodwill store.

Via Boing Boing.

FTC Disclosure: Glorious Noise didn’t receive a damn thing from any artist, label, or publicist for writing this.

of Montreal Sells Out Again

of Montreal is being featured in another commercial, and this time frontman Kevin Barnes is getting all defensive in advance of the inevitable backlash.

The term “sellout” only exists in the lexicon of the over-privileged. Almost every non-homeless person in America is over-privileged, at least in a global sense.

Obviously, I’ve struggled with the concept. I’ve struggled because of the backlash following my songs placement in TV commercials. That is, until I realized that the negative energy that was being directed towards me really began to inspire my creativity. It has given me a sense of, “well, I’ll show them who is a sellout, I’m going to make the freakiest, most interesting, record ever!!!” … “I’m going to prove to them that my shit is wild and unpolluted by the reach of some absurd connection to mainstream corporate America.”

I realized then that, for me, selling out is not possible. Selling out, in an artistic sense, is to change one’s creative output to fit in with the commercial world. To create phony and insincere art in the hopes of becoming commercially successful. I’ve never done this and I can’t imagine I ever will.

These are all good points and he makes a few more, so read the whole essay entitled “Selling Out Isn’t Possible” by Kevin Barnes. Percolator has the spot (YouTube).

Barnes also spoke recently to the Fork about exorcising demons, songwriting, and whatnot.

MP3: of Montreal – “Disconnect the Dots” from Satanic Panic in the Attic (review)

Previously: The Glorious Noise Interview with Kevin Barnes (2004).

Continue reading of Montreal Sells Out Again