4/27/2006

reinventing a brand


Unless you were (or like me, still are) a fan of new wave music, the name Mark Mothersbaugh may not be too familiar, but the frontman for the '80s cult band Devo just may know a thing or two about branding.

As detailed in the May issue of Wired, Mark has built quite a resume in the 15 years since Devo's last studio album was released, scoring nearly two dozen films, including Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Royal Tenenbaums. Advertising has also been good to Mark and the gang. The band's one chart-topper "Whip It" has been used in commercials for Gateway, Twix, Pringles, and most recently, Swiffer.

And now the band is poised for a comeback... well, sort of. The band has partnered with Disney to launch Devo 2.0, an ensemble of 10-to-13-year-old kids who perform nearly perfect renditions of Devo classics. The idea is to reinvent the band for a new generation, which sounds like a fairly novel strategy...

4 Comments:

At 10:14 AM , Anonymous Chris said...

It's interesting to see a band reinvent themselves by having someone else perform their music. Usually the band just changes its style, leaving its core fan base with their hands up in the air wondering "what the hell happened?" (see Staind and Goo Goo Dolls). I wonder how this will work...or even if it will work at all. Will kids care who Devo is? For that matter, is this all really neccessary? I mean they just need to show their "Whip it" video a few more times and prepubesant boys will come a crawling.

 
At 12:33 PM , Blogger john gibson said...

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At 12:36 PM , Blogger john gibson said...

Point taken, especially in regards to the "Whip It" video, but I neglected to include that Disney has bolstered the launch with a very targeted promotional campaign. In fact, Devo 2.0 is currently on a nationwide mall tour muscled by Disney's inside track into all things kid-focused.

Also, I don't think the fact that the audience will have no concept of who Devo is/was will be detrimental here-- in fact; it could very well be a benefit. Kids can be a fickle group, and knowing that their parents had listened to Devo might lend to them wanting to distance themselves from the updated version of the group.

As for the strategy itself, let's face it-- resurrecting a band that essentially had one major hit would be a monumental task, at least when targeting a mainstream audience. But the the audience shift is clever I think. Devo always had a niche following-- it is just a matter of repackaging the product.

It will be interesting to see how successful the venture turns out to be. Of course, it will depend on the benchmarks and how all parties define success. We shall see...

 
At 5:10 PM , Anonymous Kevin Rothermel said...

OH THE HORROR OF IT ALL. As a Mark Mothersbaugh fan I really hope that he was strongarmed into this. I read a while back that Kiss is going to try a similar idea. They think that the original members in the band don't matter and that they can all be replaced by other people in the character make up. So basically the idea is that Kiss will last forever. That'll be interesting...but I guess it's a natural step in the band as a brand phenomenon, and now that I've thought more about it, there is a Zeppelin cover band called Zoso that tours the US dressed up like the zeppelin members, playing zeppelin songs, and for all intents and purposes acting like Zepp 2.0. This is just all very strange to me.

 

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