No bunch of kids ever said “Let’s grab some gear, get in the garage and start a brand!”
“First of all, the response that we got, that we used AC/DC on a Nike spot was overwhelming. I think people liked the fact that we used AC/DC more than they actually liked the spot.” – Mike Byrne (ad guy)
In the video below, Mike goes on to talk about the ad like it’s an opus worthy of Orson Welles (“it’s a about the human spirit”, referring to “the film”) rather than a device designed to pimp over-priced sneakers manufactured by sweat shop labor.
The clip, a trailer for a documentary, “AC/DC: Beyond the Thunder”, from the opening graphic that sates “The Ultimate Band – The Ultimate Brand” over a background of flames, is a celebration of Bernaysian propaganda.
The whole “band as brand” thing is old news. And, we all know that big league rock and roll has been nothing more than a device to sell widgets for many moons but…watching these ad guys positively salivating over the sheer, raw marketing power and undeniable street cred of AC/DC is quite fascinating.
“Music and advertising is a great way to make people united.” – Gary Koepke (ad guy)
Yep, these buzzards, parasites really do exist. And, they act like their “work” is bursting with creativity…benevolent offerings for the greater good. It’s like they’ve all gone to some central brainwashing facility and put under hypnosis with detailed instructions on how to manipulate the mass psyche.
And, I know that, a band at the AC/DC level, one of the handful of “legacy acts” that can, seemingly at will, convince a wide demographic to grab their Visa cards, is no longer about creativity or a commitment to art. I’m not saying that the ethic isn’t there. I really haven’t even listened to the last record. I’m saying that stuff is irrelevant. It’s all about the catalog. The ads featured in the clip go back to the Bon Scott days. All of the marketing, all of the spectacle of the stadium shows, even what remains of the actual sale of physical product…all about the catalog.
It’s clear, if you know anything of the history of AC/DC, that from the beginning there was an effort to put something together that had commercial appeal. But, it’s not like some bunch of blue collar kids got together and said, “Let’s grab some gear, get in the garage and start a brand!”, either.
That golden goose of a catalog was conjured up with some amount of rock and roll fun, blind faith, sweat equity, and true believer naivete.
And there’s the rub. While these ad wonks are simultaneously getting tingles about AC/DC’s connection to the audience and patting themselves on the back for their noble output…the whole gravy train is sinking fast.
There are no new “brands” that will ever have the AC/DC type of consensus appeal. There is a whole new breed of consumers coming along that don’t give to shits about the catalog or some model dancing around in front of a bunch of Marshall cabs (no amp btw) with an SG.
Whether this signals a new frontier of marketing tactics or the last gasp of post-industrial consumer relevance (i.e. sell ‘em the final batch of gizmos before the quickening/sustainable development/Malthusianism takes hold) may not be clear.