About that ad …
Some thoughts on sg advertising as represented in this month’s SN:
- Daywind: A few people over at sogosplenews got pretty worked up over a Daywind ad for the Perry’s in the most recent SN that compared the group to the Goodmans. As I briefly said a while back (and I’m quoting myself here), “I don’t know how useful the comparison between the Perrys and the Goodmans is … if only because, aside from being a family group, there is very little stylistically similar about the two groups (and it really matters very little stylistically in this case that Libbi Perry Stuffle was so influenced by Vestal Goodman).” What really interests me instead is the Daywind rhetoric that emerges more generally from the firm’s recent ads. Consider these lines from Daywind ads about the following artists in the most recent SN:
- Cathedral Records: In re the Gold City ad for their new project, First Class. Why is the group standing in front of a Cessna-looking prop job on page 29? It seems pretty clear the whole setting for the photo shoot is intended to conjure images of first-class flight (flying first class with God or something like that?), but if riding in a plane like the one in the picture is anything like the experience of taking a puddle jumper from Minneapolis to northern Minnesota (in my case), it couldn’t be further from first-class travel.
The Freemans: “one of the most beloved family groups in sg.”
L5: “They’re like part of your family”
Mercy’s Mark: “Some have compared the sound to the early days of Gold City and to the Cathedrals of 80s.” [Full disclosure: some comments I made about MM may appear in a forthcoming ad about the group]
The Perrys: “Few would argue that the Perrys are to their generation what the Happy Goodman family was” to theirs.”
There’s a commonality here that approaches pithiness. Each line is pretty slick, making highly subjective claims seem a lot like inarguable fact without being dishonest (L5 is like part of your family; the Freemans are one of the most beloved groups in sg), and investing contestable claims with a great deal of authority by virtue mostly of sheer audacity. I kinda like it; it’s advertising after all, and not high musical criticism or an official record of sg history, which seems to be what people are mistaking it for when they get upset about some statement or comparison. One standard by which to judge advertising is whether it creates “buzz” or draws attention to the product being pitched, and in the case of the Perrys ad (and, I guess, in all the other cases now that I’ve turned my attention to them), the advertising worked because it got people to notice. The only real quibble I have with any of Daywind’s copy in this month’s SN is the line about the Perrys’ music having a “been there, done that” feeling to it. “Been there, done that” almost always implies to me a sense of something being passé or tired or out of fashion … a dismissal of something as past its shelf life or not worth giving as much time to as one would something newer or fresher (”Reality TV?” … “been there, done that” etc). I’ve exchanged some interesting, informative, and very pleasant emails with the director of marketing for Daywind, Susan Puckett, but stupidly (on my part) I honestly forgot to bring up the “been there done that” line with her in our last exchange of emails. I assume the line is meant to suggest the way the Perrys music resonates with the felt pressure of lived experience. If that’s the case, then I know what the ad meant, even if I would maybe recast that one phrase. And to close on a word of thanksgiving, I’ll point to the Imperials and Stamps ad about their Elvis connection on p39 that thankfully doesn’t make any hyped-up claims about the groups having some kind of extra special touch from the King because they sang with him. Too often, groups with ties to Presley imply all kinds of self-importance from their time traveling with Elvis that probably isn’t totally bogus but pretty close. By all accounts, Elvis chose his backup quartets mostly on the basis of friendships and personal relationships, which doesn’t mean those groups couldn’t sing or didn’t have talent (they could and did, a lot). But it does mean that it’s tiring to see some Elvis documentary on television act like the quartets that sang with “the king” were anointed with special oil. So, thank you Daywind (specifically, Susan) for resisting the urge to sex up the rhetoric in this case.
- Seraphim Music Group: The Nelons new project “may be be the most impactful recording by this award winning family.” I’m all for making up words when there’s absolutely nothing else available that will remotely work, but “impactful”? Wow.