Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You can't spell brand without band: Run-DMC

Hey, I like to stomp out pimps with diamond rings too!

Can product placements save music?

I pose the question half-jokingly every year in Advertising class, when I raise the spectre of Arcade Fire finally getting paid what its worth, if only the band would namedrop Coca-Cola in its songs every once in awhile.

Hey, the Kinks and the Who did it!

Cue righteous indignation and cries of "sellout!"

Then, I like to point out that even bands are brands, and they're in the business of making money like any product.

"Not Pearl Jam!"

Especially Pearl Jam! Those bastards have mastered the art of making their fans think that they don't even want their money at the same time Eddie Vedder collects it by the bucket load - like a modern-day Tom Sawyer with a gigantic fence to paint and a line-up of volunteers eager to pay for the privilege.

Then I pull out my ace in the hole, the poster children for product placements in music, Run-DMC. Regardless how much you hate the idea of a band singing or rapping about products, most everyone agrees that "My Adidas," above, is the exception to the rule, because Run-DMC really did love their Adidas.

So, should it matter that the boys signed a $1.6 million endorsement deal with Adidas on the strength of the song and its ability to connect with that difficult-to-reach young, white, male, suburban hip-hop fan? And sold billions of pairs of Adidas sneakers in the process?

Once bitten by the marketing bug, the boys didn't stop there - there were burgers and Lee jeans to sell, after all - though what they have against Calvin Klein jeans is anyone's guess:

Five Run-DMC brand songs:

1. My Adidas (see embedded video at the top of this post)

"My Adidas only bring good news
And they are not used as felon shoes."

2. Hit it Run

"It's McDaniels, not McDonald's
These rhymes are Darryl's, the burgers are Ronald's."

3. Rock Box

"We bake a little cake with Duncan Hines
And we never wear the pants they call the Calvin Klein's
Calvin Klein is no friend of mine
don't want nobody's name on my behind.
Lee on my legs, sneakers on my feet,
D by my side, Jay on the beat."

4. You be Illin'

"Day when I was chillin' in Kentucky Fried Chicken
Just mindin' my business, eatin' food and finger lickin'"

"He asked this old lady, "Yo, yo, this Kentucky Fried?"
The lady said "Yeah", smiled and he smiled back
He gave a quarter and his order, small fries, Big Mac!"

"The other day around the way I seen you illin' at a party
Drunk as skunk you illin' punk and in your left hand was Bacardi"

5. Darryl and Joe

"Well I'm the rapper with the mic
Drive a Caddy, not a bike
Drop a rhyme in your face
And you'll damn sure like"

"Travel round the world with my mind at ease
No Calvin Klein, just wearin Lees"

"We got all of the girls on our tips
Don't buy gold lighters only Bics"


Now if only I could convince the Weakerthans to namedrop Kenton's Infotainment Scan on the next album, life would be sweet.

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