I joined friends last week at Kylie’s ‘Kiss me once’ tour at the O2. I could go on about the 90’s biased playlist (all the favourites were there); the talented dancers and the many costume changes – each one more OTT than the last – but that’s not the point of this post.
My question is this… what measures can artists take to ensure any associated merchandise promotes their brand image in the right way?
My friends and I received a VIP pass in the form of a heavily ‘Kylie’ branded lanyard, which was anything but VIP. It didn’t come with a backstage pass; it didn’t allow us to start the evening in VIP style with champagne and canapés; it didn’t so much as offer us a warm glass of pinot. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Oh no – the piece de resistance was the boxed USB/phone charger adorned with the pint-sized, pert-bottomed Kylie herself.
It was utterly pointless; didn’t make any of my party – who would travel to the ends of the earth for Kylie – feel any connection with her. In all its plasticky glory it left us wondering ‘what was she thinking’? Would Kylie really feel that a low-tech piece of tat is a good representation of the brand image she wants to maintain? The cynic in me wonders if it’s all about revenue streams now that music sales are in free fall. After all as a band/artist on tour, merchandising will earn you instant cash, whereas when it comes to music sales there’s a lot of waiting around for royalty cheques.
I’m not in-the-know, but do artists get to endorse or veto the merchandise their promoters intend to use? Do a team of ‘tat buyers’ sit down with Kylie and present her with a mood board of proposals on a sliding scale of high tat/low cost versus quality/high budget? What’s the process and more importantly, how can artists themselves protect the brand assets and reputation they have worked hard to create? What about quality control? What about originality and brand fit? What about eschewing the path of non-imaginative cheaply mass produced money generating crap?
The following day Kylie’s latest merchandise was on ebay selling from as little as £5.50 and surprisingly for as much as £39.99. So my take on all of this is that if she sanctioned the merchandise Kylie’s not in touch with her fan base and she cares more about the revenue than protecting and promoting brand Kylie in the right way. And people will buy any old tat when it comes emblazoned with the perfect female rear.
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