Integrated Marketing. For Guns and Roses, “it’s so easy.” For ad agencies, not so much.
January 16, 2009
In my novel, The Happy Soul Industry, a key character gets car jacked by a young gangbanger. Without playing spoiler, let’s just say the relationship takes an unexpected turn.
The young gunman is also an expert at guerilla marketing. While not stealing cars, he designs and puts up posters for bands and the like, all of it illegally. I’ll come back to that…
I’m half way through the wonderfully debauch expose of Guns ‘n Roses, “Watch You Bleed” by Stephen Davis. Davis also wrote “Hammer of the Gods,” the similar and seminal biography of Led Zeppelin.
In the G&R book, we learn that to get the word out about his new band, guitarist Slash designed crude posters of upcoming gigs and plastered them all over L.A. In the 80’s, this was how bands got themselves noticed. All the groups did it. This mostly illegal act was called “flyering.”
Flyering was guerilla marketing, pre-Internet. A decade later savvy ad folks coined the phrase “wild posting” for essentially the same activity. My hypothesis, then, is that, addled as they were (and were they ever!), Guns ‘n Roses had integrated marketing down pat. Slash not only designed hip and dark propaganda for his outfit, he also targeted key markets, knowing very well where the young and restless worked and played.
In addition, before releasing their first Geffen LP, “Appetite for Destruction,” the band put out a fake indie record, an EP called “Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide.” Suicide was only available in limited supply and quickly sold out. The idea was to create a buzz for the band. The crude recording captured a raw unfiltered “concert” of the Gunners before mainstream radio could. It worked, driving existing fans wild while creating countless new ones. The record is now highly sought after collectible.
A teaser campaign? Unofficial pseudo-bootleg? Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the same strategy countless bands, and for that matter brands, are using on You Tube. Everything about Guns early “marketing” was, when you think about it, a brilliant example of integrated marketing!
Axl and Slash barely functioned off stage. Yet, they concocted a brilliant marketing strategy for their brand. Funny how ad agencies consider this activity so damn sophisticated they need digital experts and proprietary tools to do it.