Recently Acura began a new campaign for the TLX 2015 model; they using the song “My way” the Sid Vicious version (not to be confused with Frank Sinatra’s). In the interest of full disclosure, growing up I was a big Sex Pistols fan and had all of their albums. Sid Vicious was punk rock royalty and legend. Many fans in England and USA would dress up similarly and try to act like Sid. However, Sid was also a well known heroin addict and in 1978 was arrested for beating and stabbing Nancy Spungen to death at the Chelsea hotel in New York City. Sid Vicious died in 1979 of a heroin overdose, heroin was provided by his mom.
One would think Sid Vicious is not the guy that would normally be associated with a luxury car brand. If he where alive and actually showed up for a photo shoot or to sell the song, my first thought would’ve been, “Sid sold out”. The spirit of his image and the song “My way” may be a good fit for the message Acura is trying to send. Did the 34+ years heal his reputation? Shouldn’t Acura also seek sponsorship of say, Lance Armstrong? Of course they wouldn’t it’s too fresh. After all, he did it his way and to my knowledge there are no pending murder charges against him and he didn’t spend time on Rikers Island. My guess is that not many people really know Sid Vicious or have heard the song.
Don’t get too excited about an idea without first doing your homework.
At one point in the song, Sid burps and states “I killed a cat”, hat’s right Grumpy cat you’re on Sid’s list. Why hasn’t animal right groups protested this choice of song? Sure that line is edited out, but it’s still there and according to one Wikipedia posting it’s part of the title. Why hasn’t women’s and gay rights groups gotten up an arms about the spot after you read the lyrics of the song you’ll understand. In the video of the song at the end Sid pulls out a hand gun and shoots the audience, where are the gun control groups? Did the engineers, designers and quality people “shot it up” while they worked? Is that the message Acura is trying to send?
Where am I going with all this? Looking at famous people that have had falls from grace and the degrees of that fall. How the sponsors stood by them then left since they didn’t want their brand reputation to be tarnished. Does it just take time for us to forget and/or just no one cares anymore? As marketers we are always looking for opportunities to promote our clients products but does this go too far? Can you separate the spirit of the message from the spirit of the messenger and his message?
The first time I saw the spot my thought was, ‘how cool they are using “My Way”‘ and I got a big smile. They picked something from my youth that wasn’t part of the “establishment”. Then the adult kicked in, my thoughts turned to “Did they really listen to the song? Do they really know who Sid really is?”. The adult and marketer started to think deeper. This was a poor choice of songs and a poor choice of artists for a luxury car brand. It is important to think about what message you are sending about your brand, don’t get too excited about an idea without first doing your homework.