Following up on a discussion from mpomy.com about the U2 Blackberry ad (a discussion, by the way, which should have started here, given the subject mater. mea culpa.), I did want to clarify that I am not concerned about the integrity of a an artist being compromised by a television commercial. Endorsements are part of the game and always have been.
In the case of U2, is it true that each member of the band could personally finance this massive tour with all its attendant hardware and helping hands? Probably, but why should they have to? A tour this big, with a contraption that could potentially kill thousands of fans in a single night, is risky. What if things go wrong? What if tickets don’t sell? What if refunds have to be issued? The Blackberry deal ensures that the entire crew gets paid and gets paid well without the artists having to take on the potential risk of loss. They’ve conducted their business well enough to have earned that right.
Similarly, if Bob Dylan wants to be associated with hot underwear models, I just don’t see how that is a problem. It’s all far less unsavory than Budweiser or Marlboro footing the bill.
The fascinating thing about the Blackberry/U2 deal is that this band is selling Coke right after getting out of a deal with Pepsi. I don’t know about you, but in my line of work that’s called a conflict of interest and it’s a no-no. I can’t represent FBdN against Delaruss on Monday and then turn around and screw FBdN by going to work for Delaruss on Tuesday. It’s not allowed. What would Honda think if, on the day after their Lou Reed ad buy ended, he was seen scooting around London on a Vespa to the tones of ‘Dirty Boulevard’?
My point was that U2 has gotten so big, that those rules don’t matter. Apple doesn’t have any say. When the deal is over, it’s like it never happened. Similarly, Blackberry has to bow down as well. I picture the conversation going something like this:
Blackberry: And then you could take out a Blackberry in the middle of the song and make a call. It’ll be great!
Blackberry: Or you could raise your hands and the crowd will all lift up their cell phones and it will light up the entire stadium and we’ll zoom in and everyone will be holding up Blackberrys – with the band’s image on the screen, of course.
Blackberry: Well, maybe after the concert clip, we could just show the new phone, just have the ad end with an image of the product on the screen. how about that?
U2: We have a better idea. We’ll show the concert clip and there will be no image of any Blackberry product in the ad at any time. And at the end we’ll let you tell everyone that ‘Blackberry loves U2′. And, for a few extra million, we’ll even let you put your website on the ad. How does that sound?
Blackberry: Great! Perfect! We love it!