I wasn’t even 11 years old when MTV went live…this was back when it actually played music videos 24/7. The fact that it launched on August 1, 1981 did me no good, as it was the latter part of Summer in San Antonio, TX – it gets HOT in San Antone in August, ya’ll. So I was glued to the TV set, watching (and in most cases, memorizing) videos from artists like Pat Benatar, Adam Ant, Talking Heads and Blondie.
And even though I had already grown to appreciate (what I consider) good music, this new music channel ‘amped up’ my fondness for a solid song and the players that made me tap my toes and, at times, bang my head. I mean, these were songs with the people who actually cut the records performing (sometimes ‘acting’) for the cameras…..24 hours a day.
How Cool Is Was That?!
But by the time the mid-80’s rolled around, I had come to realize, right about the time I was 15, that while some bands ‘evolve’ with their music, other’s SELL OUT.
Don’t get me wrong – some people really like this song and video. It’s a good song…and they seemed to have gained more fans because of it; but it’s certainly not what the band built its reputation on. Cause you can’t tell me that from where the Crüe began with this and this, that they weren’t just doing it to get more money and airplay. It was a harsh reality for me to face: people and their vision (if they’re open to this ‘idea’) can be bought, repackaged and made ‘more edible’ for consumers.
Street cred is something that cannot be denied – and the Crüe lost a bit of it when they went down that path. These days, brands like Motrin, Pepsi and KFC lose their street cred because they try to play ‘Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room’ when they should be jamming to ‘Live Wire.’ When trying to take a bigger share of the market with a new idea/product/look interferes with your judgment, you’re in for some trouble. It’s good to venture out and develop something that adheres to a company’s principles – heck, it’s advisable. Look at what Apple has done with just about all of its products – when you hold true to your brand’s foundation, you can build just about anything on it.
And as communications professionals / consultants / advisors, we need to be ready and willing to tell our clients when they start to experiment with a new idea that jeopardizes their brand’s character and esteem. When is the last time you’ve witnessed a client trying to ‘Smoke in the Boy’s Room’…? What can you say to a client if/when they begin to sell out for popularity or money?