Advertising is a cynical business, there can be little argument about that. Sometimes the creations are reasonably interesting and watchable but usually just tiresome and annoying. I am however, appalled at the current trend of paying a well known iconic performer to parody their own image for the sake of a product.
For instance John Lydon nee Rotten. This anti-establishment figure of my youth, whose foul mouthed shenanigans challenged the mainstream, is now selling butter whilst dressed as landed gentry. I know that it is tongue in cheek and harmless, but that is my point. The Johnny Rotten of my youth would have spat on the executive that approached him is now just another jobbing celebrity. It’s a shame. Even the thought that he is secretly emphasising the first syllable of Country Life isn’t enough to mitigate the disappointment.
You can imagine this discussion…
“What do they want us to sell for them?”
“That is a sensible and mundane subject, who shall we use?”
“Hmm, I’m not sure. Let’s treat this in an ironic and post-modern way, even though I’m not sure what post-modern means.”
“Okay, who would be the last person in the world that you would insure?”
And so we have Iggy Pop, bouncing his aging but taut torso across our screens with a hectic backdrop of less than subliminal selling. Don’t get me wrong I can see the joke. Here is a man who has taken enough drugs to sustain a Central American government whilst sprinting down the path of self destruction, selling me life insurance. I understand the humour and even appreciate it, but am still saddened. Another anti-hero has been tamed and chained. Perhaps he will blow the fee on a huge amount of heroin that he will inject directly into his skull, or more likely he will use it to pay his golf club fees so that he and Alice Cooper can stroll down the ninth whilst discussing the latest share rates.
The ultimate in conversion from icon to advertising puppet though has to be the once great figure of Paddington Bear. This erstwhile purveyor of whimsical entertainment and devout consumer of marmalade has been harnessed by the mighty Marmite Empire to sell its less sweet wares. Possibly its part of a campaign on the Peruvian’s behalf to revive his career before they look too closely at his visa status, but it is still a sad day.
Until next time…