As much as we love to recognize and celebrate the wonderful work done by others at the end of a year, we also really, really like making fun of their mistakes.
Here, without further ado, are some of the worst marketing moves made by bands this year:
Weezer’s Hurley. As in Clothing. Not as in Lost. Or Maybe As In Lost. Maybe.
As anybody who reads this site knows, we have nothing against corporate sponsorship and partnership. Like it or not, that’s what’s going to drive most large-scale, ambitious creative undertakings for the foreseeable future. But our regulars also know that these kinds of things have to be handled carefully, and after Weezer pulled a bait-and-switch on their fans – putting Jorge Garcia, who played Hurley on Lost, on the cover, then announcing that their album had largely been funded by Hurley, a skate and surf clothing company owned by Nike – a lot of their fans got fairly pissed off. A few days later, the band back-pedaled (and deleted that, too), video of guitarist Brian Bell saying that the album was paid for by the clothing company was pulled off YouTube, and people went back to complaining about how the band hasn’t made a good record since Pinkerton.
Train’s Publishers Really, Really, Really Over-Licensing “Hey Soul Sister”
If a song becomes so ubiquitous that people get sick of hearing it, then somebody at a label is doing a great job. But if it gets to the point that somebody creates a website complaining about how many syncs that song has gotten, then maybe that label/publisher has gone too far. Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” a Grey’s Anatomy-ready piece of MOR rock/pop, actually did drive Brad Meyers and Keith Stoeckeler to create “Stop Advertising From Pulling a Train,” and the site’s raison d’etre resonated with the people. Everybody from Fuse to CNN picked up on it, and at one point the site got so much attention that it crashed.
Imperial Stars Blocking the Freeway…for Charity.
Generally speaking, a little scandal never hurt a young band. But you can’t try to wrap said scandal in altruism, because that will make people go from annoyed to angry. Specifically, if you’re going to do something as stupid as blocking the freeway during rush hour and then blasting your new single out of speakers, don’t pretend you did it for a good cause. Not only will people ignore the cause, but they will come to hate you. Imperial Stars, the electro rap group who thought the above stunt would be a good idea, claimed after they’d gotten arrested that they would be donating proceeds of the song’s sale to a children’s charity. Amazingly, nobody changed their minds about the song, the group, or what they’d done.
Roger Waters’ Marketing Team Defaces Elliott Smith Memorial in Los Angeles
Defacing public property in the name of promotion has become pretty commonplace, but defacing community memorials is usually a no-no. Yet that’s what the marketing agency that Roger Waters hired to promote a summer tour did, when they covered a fan-made Elliott Smith mural with posters that were supposed to be part of a viral marketing campaign. Waters apologized for the move, calling it a mistake, but the damage was done. And while it’s hard to blame Waters, who admitted that he’d never even heard of Smith, for what happened here, you’d think that he’d be able to hire marketers that are savvy enough to know where not to put their posters.
The Marky Ramone Marinara Sauce
As unlikely as the pairing of rock n roll and food might seem, it can work successfully. One of our favorite tour tactics involved Zac Brown Band’s eat’n'greets, where the band would cook for a select batch of fans and eat a meal with them before the night’s show. This works because Brown started as a restaurant owner and cook, because he’s actually a good cook, and because his music is the kind of thing you could put on during a barbecue. The Ramones, on the other hand, are not something you could eat to (except maybe at a speed eating contest?), which is what makes the Marky Ramone Brooklyn’s Own Pasta Sauce such a strange fit. The reception to this idea has been more confused than anything else (punk rock and food? “Brooklyn’s Own” for a guy raised in Queens?), which probably explains why the introductory video Ramone made has been taken down.