HOBBY HORSE: No variety and little life left on the Spice wagon

Last week, Marketing journalists achieved something of a first.

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

throwing it.

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.


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