Tag Archives: adidas

“AMY” AND “LOVE & MERCY” DISCLOSE THE UNDERSIDE OF ROCK MUSIC

Q: About three years ago I read the results of some research on 1,489 rock, pop, punk, R&B, rap, electronica and New Age stars who became famous between 1956 and 2006 – from Elvis Presley to the Arctic Monkeys. Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University found that 137 of the stars, or 9.2 percent, had died, representing “higher levels of mortality than demographically matched individuals in the general population. So I was struck when two films now on general release examine the decline of two rock artists. I imagine you’ve seen Amy, about the late Amy Winehouse, and Love & Mercy, which is about Brian Wilson, who is still living, but went through a mysteriously dark period in his life when he didn’t get out of bed for over three years. Any thoughts?

A: Both films are superb. Amy is a bio-documentary, even better than the director Asif Kapadia‘s previous film Senna, which was excellent. Kapadia’s thesis, if we can call it that, is that Winehouse never craved fame and when it arrived was totally unprepared for it. The film stitches together footage from her childhood and adult life, so we actually see her saying she would probably kill herself if she ever became famous. Of course, she became accustomed to the bright lights pretty quickly, but never seemed fully comfortable. This was a factor in her death in 2011 at the young age of 27. Brian Wilson, now 73, was also a troubled soul, though the attention of the media and adulation of audiences was never a problem: in fact, he craved recognition and was embattled with other members of his band, the Beach Boys, and his father who managed the band, who wanted to stick to a proven musical formula while Wilson tried to break musical boundaries. “Who do you think you are, Mozart?” asks one of his fellow band members in the film. Wilson doesn’t answer, the implication being that he probably did see himself this way.

Q: One of the findings of the study I mentioned was the role played by the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Both Winehouse and Wilson were no strangers to toxic substances, right?

A: True, but the power of both films, in my view, is that they show that rock musicians on the rise tend to attract the close attention of people who don’t typically share their creative aspirations. In Amy, we see Blake Fielder-Civil assist her towards her use of hard drugs. Fielder-Civil comes across as the kind of guy who puts his own interests before all others’. Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse is angry about the film which reveals him ready to exploit her fame, at one point pushing her to have her picture taken when she clearly wants to escape this kind of thing. We hear producer Lucian Grainge explain that, when she became a bigtime celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic, Amy acquired what he describes as an infrastructure of agents, bodyguards and assorted other personnel to act as a kind of buffer zone between her and the media. Grainge says it was necessary, “but it wasn’t reality.” Wilson’s father was a famously tyrannical type, who initially managed the Beach Boys in the 1960s. Bill Pohlad‘s film is a drama, rather than documentary, and paints an ugly picture of Murry Wilson, Brian’s father. Anyone who has read Wilson’s autobiography knows that Murry was a domineering dad who beat his children. In the film we see him pouring scorn on Brian’s attempts to experiment with rock music. Wilson felt challenged by the work of the Beatles. His father mocks his son’s striving to keep pace with their innovations. Wilson’s masterwork Smile was never completed and was released only in 2004. Like Winehouse, Wilson used drugs, but the film doesn’t big up their role in his retreat. Though Wilson himself has talked openly of this. The other key character in Wilson’s life was Dr Eugene Landy, who is show to be a therapist-cum-guardian-cum-protector, who takes care of Wilson, but in a way that suits himself.

Q: So the so-called rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is probably to blame for the troubles of both artists, but not in the way many might think. It seems you’re saying there is a kind of sociological process going on in which artistic and commercial success attracts self-serving people who see rock stars as exploitable.

A: Yes. Remember though, in Wilson’s case, Murry was probably well-intentioned, but, like a lot of intensely ambitious parents, just didn’t allow his son enough freedom to express his art. This may or not have been a factor in Wilson’s mental state. The conclusion of both movies seems to be that rock music presents a landscape in which artists can flourish, but where there other figures who see them as geese who lay golden eggs.

Sponsors care about Fifa’s corruption. Do fans?

FOOTBALL IS MORE ADDICTION THAN ATTRACTION

Qatar 2022: Fifa partner Sony call on governing body to investigate World Cup corruption claims

Q: Sony is demanding that Fifa “appropriately investigate” the corruption claims that have been flying about lately. What authority has Sony got?
A: The authority that comes when you pump $305 million per year into football, that’s about £182 million, enough to buy a pretty decent Premier League club, every year. So Fifa will take notice of this.
Q: I guess Fifa depends on corporations like Sony for sponsorship money then, eh?
A: And how. Coca-Cola and adidas have pumped money into Fifa for years. And more recently credit card giant Visa and Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, and Hyundai, the car manufacturer have joined them. They each sponsor Fifa. Collectively, they contribute probably close to £1 billion per year. The World Cup alone is expected to fetch Fifa $730 million, or about £445 million, in sponsorships. So Fifa will not want to get on their wrong side.
Q: But the sponsors have made noises before, haven’t they?
A: Yes. In 2011 when Fifa was in the middle of another corruption scandal, Visa said: “The current situation is clearly not good for the game and we ask that Fifa take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised.” Coca-Cola, the single biggest sponsor, released a statement: “We have every expectation that Fifa will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner.” That was three years ago, remember. So they must be thinking Fifa have not just failed to resolve the matter, but have become involved into an arguably more serious episode — this one, as we know concerning the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. There could come a point at which the likes of adidas and Hyundai ask themselves: “Are we doing the image of the company any good by associating ourselves with a sport that is tainted?
Q: I suppose so, but, so far, only Sony has spoken up and the electronics giant hasn’t threatened to pull its money, has it?
A: No. That’s because Sony, Coca-Cola and the others are confident football is so incredibly popular that, by the time the World Cup is over, everyone will be feeling so jubilant that they’ll have forgotten about how dirty Fifa is.
Q: Are they right?
A: I suspect they are: Fifa has a habit of riding out these scandals and stay in tact. The reason is simple: fans don’t much care.
Q: You’re kidding, right? Fans surely care that the game they love is riddled with corruption, bribery, matchfixing, bungs and all sorts of other skulduggery.
A: Well, they know association football is endemically bent. But I’m not sure they care that much. I mean, once the big games start on Thursday, this crisis will vanish and all the fans will care about is the tournament. Tom Peck, of the Independent, wrote a biting story the other day, in which he suggested: “When the whistle finally blows in Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Thursday night, a football-addicted planet will get its first sweet quadrennial pull on the World Cup crack pipe and all will be right again.” And I think he’s right. I’m not sure his conclusion is accurate: “It is this addiction that hides from the football fan the extraordinary truth.” Fans know the truth; they just don’t care that much.
Q: That’s a bit of a compliment with a criticism inside it, isn’t it?
A: Let’s put it this way: fans are clued-up, they know about the politics of the sport; but they also realize that, in practical terms, there isn’t much they can do about it.
Q: But, as we both know, there is.
A: I see what you’re getting at. Imagine if football fans decided to boycott, say, Budweiser beer, McDonalds, or Johnson & Johnson products. They’re all sponsors and stand to benefit from football’s greatest tournament. They could force change in the way in which the global game is run. Sony is probably aware of the potential impact of negative publicity and that’s why it’s put out this statement. Remember: some sponsors are quick to sever links with athletes who are convicted of doping offences: they think their brand will suffer by association. Others just ride out the storm, assuming sports fans are just not motivated enough to put their convictions into action. Are they really going to stop buying adidas gear or scissor their Visa cards?
Q: I’m asking the questions … are they?
A: No. I’m afraid I agree with Peck: football is more of an addiction than an attraction. I hate to say it, but I think this scandal will have been forgotten by the time the whistle blows to end England’s first game. All the same you have to wonder if anyone benefits from all this. I bet Nike, Pepsi, Toshiba, Burger King and the other rivals of Fifa’s main sponsors are having a quiet laugh. Nike, in particular, has opted to capitalize on the World Cup and other Fifa tournaments with ambush marketing and sponsoring national teams, like Brazil’s. But, as Nike has no direct link to Fifa, it won’t incur collateral damage. The others’ reputations are vulnerable.

WORLD CUP WILL BE A MONTH-LONG ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN

Q: What’s this? The first World Cup ad?
A: Yes, adidas has launched the first commercial of its campaign and, as you can see, it’s provocative.
Q: Why provocative? I can recognize Kanye West on the soundtrack, but so what?
A: Because adidas have edited the track so that the references to “cocks” and “muthfuckas” and so on have been expunged.
Q: Perhaps that will make adidas appear edgy and appeal to the demographic they want. But, hang on a minute: doesn’t Kanye do something similar for adidas’s arch rivals Nike?
A: He did. Last year, he switched to adidas: the terms of the new deal mean that, just after the World Cup, there will be a new lines of shoes and apparel bearing the Kanye West imprimatur.
Q: Eh? What’s an imprimatur?
A: A sort of personal guarantee. West licences out his name. Most A-list celebs do this sort of thing nowadays. It’s pretty standard practice: you’ll notice Kanye West-themed adidas gear everywhere.
Q: I can see the logic of this if an athlete endorses the clothes and shoes. I mean, Nike and Michael Jordan was the most productive marketing tie-up in history. But Kanye West is a musician. What’s he got to do with sportsgear?
A: The only thing that matters is that consumers know and identify with West. Precisely what he’s known for is irrelevant. Sports stars are used to advertise all sorts of products that have nothing to do with sport. Musicians can reverse the process. Anyway adidas has done its homework: the company will know its customers like and follow West.
Q: It’s clever marketing for West too, I suppose.
A: Definitely. He’s trailing the new track “God Level” in an ad that is going to be seen and heard globally. So it’s effective advertising for him as well as adidas. It’s called cross-promotion. Advertising today combines products in such a way that the consumer isn’t expected to know it’s actually an ad at all: they just immerse themselves in the video. In this sense, I think you’d have to conclude the new ad is successful.
Q: This is the first seriously big ad campaign, isn’t it?
A: Yes, over the next couple of months, we are all — and I mean everybody in the world — going to be bombarded with ads for so many products it will make our heads spin. The World Cup is, on one level, a sports tournament; on another level, it is an marketing extravaganza. It has become such a globally popular event that advertisers know they can get the attention of literally millions. Fifa has been criticised for inflating viewing figures, but there is still nothing to touch the World Cup when it comes to bringing viewers to their screens; and remember people will be watching on portable devices too this time. You also have to remind yourself that the advertising doesn’t stop when the whistle goes. Hoardings will display ads for the whole game, players will wear branded footwear and, on commercial tv, halftime breaks will be crammed with advertising. Britain’s ITV will probably charge £300,000 for 30-second slots during the pregame, halftime and postgame intervals.
Q: I hate to bring this up, but it strikes me that when we are watching the games, the advertising will still be working on us.
A: Which leads us to ask: are we being entertained by the competition, or are we being sold stuff? The answer is, as you’ve already guessed: both. Everything comes with a price tag, right? Even watching a game on commercial-free BBC will implicate you in an advertising interaction. Consumption doesn’t just mean buying products for their use: it’s become a relationship through which we gratify ourselves and, strange as it seems, make our selves. Things are parts of our identities. adidas may sell products, but they also provide identity accoutrements.
@elliscashmore