Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't Call Him a Sell-Out, He's Been Dead For Years

As we're all aware, Heaven boasts one hell of a rock 'n' roll band...and now they finally have some corporate sponsorship! The summer leg of the band's Eternity Tour is being sponsored by Doc Martens.

Doc's ad agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, recently whipped up a rather controversial one-off campaign for the boots in the UK. Fact Magazine, a free publication, ran the piece which features photos of four punk icons - Sid Vicious, Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone and Kurt Cobain - rockin' their Docs amidst the clouds. (Cobain and Strummer are pictured here, and all photos can be seen by clicking here.) Even though the big-wigs at Doc Martens approved the ads, Saatchi and Saatchi has been fired as a result of the negative attention the ads have received here in the States.

As it turns out, musicians don't have control over their souls (or soles) in the UK, because the law doesn't require advertisers to get clearance from the deceased's estates before using their likenesses. Such clearances are required here in the U.S., which is why some folks are outraged over the ads.

I'm kind of torn about this issue. Obviously, the four fellas picked as shills were well-known for their musical integrity while they were alive and I think they're all probably rolling over in their graves right about now. I don't think their memories should be tarnished just to sell ugly boots to hipsters who were probably going to buy them anyway. Besides, wasn't Kurt a bigger fan of Chuck Taylors? I know I've had my Kurt issues in the past. He even tried to haunt me once. But I did respect the guy, and think that if he's gonna be used to sell products against his will, he should at least be portrayed a little more accurately. And, let's face it, Chuck Taylors are the superior footwear.

On the other hand, I have to give it to Saatchi and Saatchi for coming up with something pretty creative. The pictures are actually quite nice! If I didn't know they were ads, I probably wouldn't have even noticed the feet and just thought they were some sort of fan-made tribute.

Of course, the blame game is in full-swing. Doc Martens approved of the campaign, but now the CEO is saying that doing so was a "mistake" and that they "did not even like it." Sure. Now. How strange that Saatchi lost the account when they're responsible for the biggest firestorm of publicity that Doc Martens has probably seen in a while! And since Doc gave Saatchi the boot, the ad agency had to find its own scapegoat - the staff member who emailed the photos to U.S. bloggers. Saatchi is standing by their campaign but not the employee, who was terminated for "breaking protocol." Again, it seems twisted that the one person most responsible for drawing the most attention to both companies got canned! I'm waiting for the fired employee to sue someone, like Paris Hilton's publicist. Or maybe Akon.

My favorite part of all of this is that it's given junkie extraordinaire, crazy Courtney Love, another reason to run her gigantic mouth. She's upset that Doc Martens used the photo of Kurt without her permission and "thinks it's outrageous that a company is allowed to commercially gain from such despicable use of her husband's picture." Damn you, Doc Martens, for horning in on Courtney's action! Kurt is her meal-ticket, not yours! I'm sure if they just write her a check she'll calm right down.


Writeprocrastinator said...

"Kurt is her meal ticket"

Absolutely and Kurt is haunting me right now, as we speak! Listen carefully and you'll hear him too...

I will never bother you
I will never promise to
I will never follow you
I will never bother you

Never speak a word again
I will crawl away for good

I will move away from here
You won't be afraid of fear
No thought was put into this
And I always knew it'd come to this
Things have never been so swell
I have never failed to feel

You know you're right
You know you're right
You know you're right

What she spends for collagen alone, gives no one else the right to exploit him.

Bubs said...

Courtney's indignation caps the story perfectly.

Of the four dead artists, I think Sid and Joey would have happily done nearly anything for money, including peddle shoes, but I don't think Kurt or Joe would have.

Karl Marx could never, ever have imagined the wonders of advertising, and capitalism's awesome ability to turn rebellion into a marketing gimmick.

Great post.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

They ARE rather nice photos, but I could never imagine Joe Strummer approving of this. And of course Courtney will be needing poor old dead Kurt to support her for a good many years to come, now that's she's topped up her bod with enough perservatives for her to outlive the cockroaches.

Good point about marketing rebellion, Bubs.

X. Dell said...

Celebrity/estate ownership of image has been a contentious issue for almost thirty years, beginning with Prisilla Presley's state-by-state campaign to reserve license of her ex-husband's image to their daughter, Lisa Marie.

Celebrity estates are big business. Jimi Hendrix's 2004 income ($6.5 mill), for example, dwarfs what he made during his lifetime, even counting for inflation.

No wonder why Ms. Love is hopping mad. Were she to allow the ads to continue, she and her daughter could be out millions over next few decades. After all, the Cobain estate earns $50 mill per year.

Lee Ann said...

Very interesting!
Love the photos too.

Bond said...

The ownership of one's image has been a firestorm for many years.

Some families will sell their relatives images for anything....

The campaign is pretty cool...but those who made it up will be haunted by the people they have abused.

Travis said...

$h-t does tend to roll downhill doesn't it? Doc Marten's and Saatchi make hay out of the publicity and an employee is out of work.

That sucks.

Beth said...

God, yes, Joey and Kurt and Joe are pissed — but Syd probably can't grasp the concept.

Dan said...

God I miss Joey and Joe. When they died, I felt a part of me died.

Beth sent me over her, so please blame her if I knocked anything over. :)

cube said...

I wonder how far one could take this. I don't imagine George Washington or Abraham Lincoln approving of their images being used as sales gimmicks, but it's done routinely.

I think once you're dead, you really don't care one whit about anything & it depends mostly upon the living to decide how much your image will be exploited.

I think the photos are quite nice, but, hey, Courtney Love's botox and legal fees aren't cheap.

Johnny Yen said...

Kurt is her meal ticket

Oh my god-- you're right-- she's sort of a modern day Yoko Ono, except a lot more annoying.

Beth said...

At least we've never been subjected to a naked Yoko running down London streets.

BeckEye said...

WP - that awful song is haunting me.

Bubs - I don't know...if Sid were alive, he would probably not care about selling out because he'd be comatose all the time. Joey wouldn't make a very good salesperson. Too much hair and mumbling.

Barbara - Courtney's just mad because dead Kurt is still more talented than live Courtney. I'm surprised she hasn't killed herself yet in a vain attempt to finally be more famous than him. (Wow, I am getting mean in my old age.)

X.Dell - Well, it was just a one-off ad anyway, it was never intended to be a long running thing. Courtney is just a greedy pig. I can't wait until Frances Bean is old enough for emancipation.

LeeAnn - They really are kind of sweet, in a way. Forget the shoes.

Bond - I don't really see it as abuse...I imagine that the person who came up with the idea rather looks up to those artists. I doubt any disrespect was intended, but not all fans will see it that way.

Travis - It's typical, isn't it?

Beth - I really doubt that Sid would enjoy hanging out in Heaven...or that most inhabitants would enjoy having him around!

Dan - Welcome to my world.

Cube - Yeah, but Washington and Lincoln get to be on money. They probably don't care about anything else.

Johnny - She's probably less attractive too, if you can imagine that.

Beth - Now there's an image that will never be used in an ad campaign.

LoraLoo said...

The pictures were very tasteful, I rather like them. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I were to see my dead relative in an ad I didn't approve. I guess I just can't relate. I would hope it would be for the value of that person's likeness and reputation, not the $$ that it always seems to be.


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