Two press releases crossed my desk yesterday. Here are excerpts:
"...'Carlos and Mariah'...Highlighting Carlos Santana and his "Carlos by Carlos Santana" line of fashion-forward women's shoes, which is sold at Macy's, the 30 second spot also features vocal superstar Mariah Carey. As Carey admires a brightly colored and highly-elevated example of "Carlos" footwear, Santana improvises a trademark guitar lick around the concept of "stiletto." He then delivers another riff saluting the soulful qualities of Carey's signature fragrance, another Macy's item. While Santana and Carey serenade the store, onlookers include Martha Stewart and Donald Trump, whose housewares and neckties, respectively, are also featured by the retailer."
"Dr Pepper is encouraging (ok, begging) Axl Rose to finally release his 17-year-in-the-making belabored masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, in 2008. In an unprecedented show of solidarity with Axl, everyone in America, except estranged GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead, will receive a free can of Dr Pepper if the album ships some time - anytime! - in 2008."
Dr. Pepper co-opted a corner of rock and roll and had fun with it. Will the campaign sell gallons more Dr. Pepper? Maybe Not. But who cares? Dr. Pepper didn't pay a dime to Guns & Roses and by keeping tongue firmly implanted in check helped brand their beverage.
The Macy's campaign is another story. By mixing celebrities who each with their own hate clubs, Macy's ensured that many viewers would tune out. And Carlos Santana should be ashamed of himself. We expect this kind of sell-out from Mariah. But Santana? Most of us had just gotten over Carlos selling his soul to Clive Davis in exchange for a hit record. Now this! It's bad enough that Carlos thinks that being a great guitarist makes him a show designer. But "...he then delivers another riff saluting the soulful qualities of Carey's signature fragrance" destroys any shred of Santana's (and thus the ad campaign's) credibility,
Music can help deliver a powerful message. But marketers and artists need to understand the consequences.