Saturday, 18 August 2007

Selling England by the Pound

So. Your new favourite heavy rock band / infinitely dextrous personal musical guru / angst-ridden, introspective and earnestly thin troubador / bunch of miming, manufactured poptarts with implausibly perfect skin, hair, teeth and no apparent external genitalia are coming to town to perform for the huddled masses - a chance to update your fading T-shirt collection, or perhaps acquire a 'cool' new wallet, or a set of matching mugs. Even, if you're a Kiss fan - for which, apparently, you'll be relieved to know there is finally a cure - a particularly fetching tongues 'n' facepaint-themed coffin-cum-drinks cooler. Oh yes indeedy, Mr. Simmons will part you from your cash with great alacrity, given half a chance. Credit to him, he's never made any great claims to musical talent, but when it comes to financial acumen...!

But the Kiss Empire apart, why do the folks in the marketing department so often seem to run out of ideas so quickly? Now, AC/DC's cycling shirts, (with full-length zips for proper ventilation - one of these would make a serious quality present for the Metal-and-Tour-de-France-fan in your life. Plus the "Back in Black" one looks absolutely stunning!), are an excellent variation on the pretty jaded standard array of clothing, but it seems to me that in the (often ever-so-slightly-naughty-and-unpaid-for) download era, when revenues from cd sales are falling, too many groups just aren't maximising their merchandising earnings potential.

Where, oh where, oh where are the Alice Cooper officially licensed python draught excluders? Why can I not buy David Bowie contact lens cases? Are there not such things as Scissor Sisters scissors (apparently not - I did a reasonable trog round the net)?? Who will be the first band to stick their logo on a set of deluxe barbecue tongs, and rake in the cash at B&Q? [Apologies to anyone foreign not getting the reference - big British DIY / "home improvement" / garden stuff chainstores]

After the success of their "Darth Tater" & "SpiderSpud", surely the world is ready for a 'classic rock' range of "Mr. Potato Head" characters? Perfect for getting your band image across to the very young and impressionable! Of course, some of the accessories might not appeal to all parents - guitarist "Smash" or singer "Pentland Joplin" with their bottles of JD, say. "Motaterhead", "Atomic Roosters" and "Ginger Baker" coming complete with substances and paraphernalia of choice (please feel free to insert your own much better potato-related rock star names - I know these were all pretty bad), but then kids grow up so much faster these days, and sheltering them from the realities of the world can be just as bad (or far worse in the long run) so why not?

I mean, come on, how hard can it be? We've got the technology now to place almost any image we want on virtually any product. Admittedly, some people may not be too keen on throwing their spicy prawn stir-fry around an "Anthrax"-branded wok with a spatula marked "Poison", while wearing an apron emblazoned with the giant terrified face from the "In The Court of The Crimson King" album cover, but I'm sure it would have enormous appeal to many, many others (or regarding the apron, just me). Yet we are denied by the short-sightedness of hidebound sales and management teams!

Now the merchandisers would, of course, argue that they have overheads to cover, small production runs offer poor economies of scale, they only have space to cram a couple of boxes of t-shirts in the back of the van between the half-dozen crates of cheap beer and the mould-ridden bass bins...but these are poor, flimsy excuses in this glorious digital age! Organise! Use their band website forums, myspace page comments, stalk them across a variety of fan sites and message boards...demand that the next time they're in your town, you can buy that set of Nightwish nail clippers you've always desperately longed for. Just so long as they come in black, mind...

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