Last week, Marketing journalists achieved something of a first.
They were banned from a Spice Girls Party. We’d always rather imagined
that there was no corner of the marketing world unswept by the Spice
machine, but now we are that corner. Apparently, we’d written so many
unsympathetic things about them that it wasn’t felt appropriate for our
reporters to cover the event.
Unfortunately, I now have to break it to you that this may mean you’ll
be seeing rather less of them in Marketing.
But before things get out of hand, I thought it might be worth pointing
out that we really don’t have anything against them. Manufactured pop
groups are, in my opinion, no bad thing. Frankly the single Monkees
album has stood the test of time rather better than some of the dirges
turned out by the mop-tops on which they were modelled. Great art it
ain’t, but great pop it certainly is. Don’t believe me? Go out and buy a
No, the cynical tone of our reporting was reserved, not for the Spices
themselves, who have every right to hoover up all the money that’s
thrown at them, but for the marketing folk unimaginative enough to keep
To be honest, Posh, Baby and the girls have more than enough mansions to
keep them going for the moment, and in emerging markets like South East
Asia there are still more millions of Yen, Yuan and Dollars to be
earned. So charity can’t be the reason for sinking hard-won marketing
budgets into the pop business.
Brand awareness, maybe? Well, yes - as long as the brand we’re talking
about is The Spice Girls. Gerald Tyrell, legal advisor to band manager
Simon Fuller, revealed in The Times this week that ’if you can do a deal
which attaches your name to a popular product in a particular country,
they will do your marketing for you.’
I wonder how many brand managers will take this to its logical
conclusion and start demanding money from the Spices to feature their
faces on their packaging?
The first one or two brands to the trough may well get a hit from a
celebrity association - there’s no denying that Spice mania has helped
Pepsico, for example. But once you’re into the second wave of
associations, the individual brand identities who hitch a ride blur into
insignificance beside the much more powerful Spice brand on whose
coat-tails they’re riding.
A backlash to all this enthusiasm is as inevitable as rain at Wimbledon,
and the band and its management are right to exploit what they have
while they have it.
Fortunately for them , I don’t think Marketing’s cynicism is going to
make much difference to the lemming-like rush by smaller brands to hurl
themselves under the wheels of the Spice juggernaut.