Thursday, January 15, 2009

Unmarketable by Anne Elizabeth Moore

I realize this has been reviewed already. Whatever. I really like books about marketing theory and analysis and stuff, and I like stuff about what selling out means now, basically totally fascinated by these things. I think I read the article in punk planet that this book grew out of, and I remember it being really amazing. This books use (overuse) of the term "integrity" really got to me but whatever, doesn't really matter, maybe I'll go into that later.

First of all, I would like to point out that D.I.Y. and underground media existed long before me, and that it's possibly romanticized heydays occurred before I came of age, so I just have this weird idea that "not selling out" was more important at some point, and that surviving (paying rent and eating regularly at the same time) was easier without a job at some point and that touring was not such a gaping financial drain at some point. Ok, so these are the ideas I function off of, but I was fully not there so I don't know.

Anyway, the first thought off of the top of my head is that I found it interesting that the artists she spoke to that had participated in corporate marketing are (I'm pretty sure) artists that are attempting to make a comfortable living off of their art and not holding a day job. In this sense, in the original sense of "not selling out" and integrity, these artists "sold out" or whatever when they decided they wanted to make a living off of their art. I didn't feel like this was fully pointed out, and it really changes the context of a lot of the ideas written in this book. It seemed like the idea of what integrity is is pretty well defined in the beginning as something that comes from a burning desire to create, and I'm not saying the artists she talked to don't have an insatiable need to create, but they do definitely want to not have that day job, and they want their craft to pay their bills.

It was interesting to me that the marketing plan case studies gone over in this book were put in the context of being entirely and fully aimed at underground twenty-somethings. My thought on campaigns that are "aimed" at the underground is really much more about helping the mainstream have that bad rebel streak in their life. It doesn't make sense to market to punks really, not to say that it's not working, because I think it is, but the idea of a company putting so much money into an "edge-y" marketing campaign along with the money to be sneaky about it (people do get paid to figure out the best way to make it seem like a corporation is not involved) or whatever just to win over a couple punks is ridiculous to me. Punks are the added bonus. Basically, these type of marketing campaigns that are "just trying to win over punks" are truly built for mainstreamers to have some touch of rebelliousness or hipness in their lives. We're (punks) kind of trendsetters, remember? The theory is this, if you get the punks who are dancing on the line of mainstream edge-y and underground whatever, then all those vanilla folk who want that danger and rebellion and hipness and fuck you to the man in their lives, can have just a little bit. So maybe they'll buy a pabst or something.

The idea that mainstream and D.I.Y. intermingling is a new thing is weird too. It reminds me of some annoying kid in one of my classes that would vocalize about never having heard of major pop culture iconic things. Tobi and I talked a bit about how most punks grew up paying attention to pop culture to some degree, and to act like mainstream and underground are two different planets that have had no interaction until whenever is a little weird.

Also, this is random but that whole major threat ad campaign being explained away as being a marketing plan made by Minor Threat fans to promote something they love - skateboarding - is utter bullshit. I'm not even really a minor threat fan and I could tell you in my sleep that they definitely don't want that iconic image of their band used to shill anything ever, so I have a hard time believing that anyone who was a fan could think that would fly for a second. Bullshit. I mention this because I felt like in the book it's treated as a valid excuse, and not just a valid excuse manufactured by marketing spinners and it's totally bogus.

This whole subject is really complex, it's like when the punks (the band) managed to get sponsored by sparks and all it really meant was that they (sparks) would give us free sparks whenever we threw "warehouse parties" which were really just house shows. We would charge at the door with the promise of bands AND free sparks and then give all the money to the bands. Our whole idea was that we were ripping off sparks, and really we were in a lot of ways, we were paying touring bands decent amounts of money at parties where most likely everyone would have been drinking sparks anyways, but it was still kind of weird. Basically, everyone can come up with an excuse of why participating with corporations is all right, everything from "I loved this when I was a kid" to "wider distribution" to "I need money" and whats a valid excuse and whats not is really vague.

Also, it's important to point out that all these D.I.Y. kids are producing art constantly, and if you want a stable income with benefits that involves doing art? Most likely you are working in advertising.

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