Product placement in popular song lyrics, particularly in R&B and rap, has been rife for years. Take Run DMC's obsession with Adidas or more recently, Jay-Z's love affair with Cristal champagne. What's sometimes hard to tell, though, is where genuine respect for a brand ends, and paid-for lyrics begin.
In a cynical world, it won't come as a surprise to many that fortunes are being made selling product placement slots in popular songs. One such profiteer, The Kluger Agency, can promote your brand "within the actual lyrics of one of the world's most famous recording artists". Unfortunately for Adam Kluger and co, this "opportunity of a lifetime" was sent to Jeff Crouse, director of operations at Second Life's Double Happiness Jeans, and proud associate of the Anti-Advertising Agency (AAA).
In disgust, Crouse posted Kluger's pitch for the world to see. Here are a few snippets…
"Hi, I'm writing because we feel you may be a good company to participate in a brand integration campaign within the actual lyrics of one of the worlds most famous recording artists upcoming song/album. Lyrics play an important part in the use of music as marketing, Just as a catchy tune could assail your senses, a good "jingle" or cute lyrics could become a part of society for quite some time, imagine your brand name being a part of that."
"My first choice would be the Jonas Brothers. Their Disney-fresh style just screams 'Virtual Sweatshop Jeans' to me. I could also settle for Avril if necessary." Jeff Crouse, Double Happiness Jeans
Jeff's reply hints at sarcasm…
"Dear Mr. Kluger, Let's cut right to the chase. We are extremely interested in having our product promoted by some of the worlds most famous recording artists. One question though: Can we choose the artist? Of course, my first choice would be the Jonas Brothers. Their Disney-fresh style just screams 'Virtual Sweatshop Jeans' to me. I could also settle for Avril if necessary."
The Kluger Agency has since complained that 'brand-dropping' is fair game: "We are just financially taking care of the people that should be taken care of," Kluger told Wired's Listening Post. "If an artist like Sheryl Crow has the same target audience as XZY brand, we feel it's nothing but a strong and strategic way to pinpoint a market."
"Now, we don't want an artist to write a song specifically to promote a brand, we just feel that if it's a product that's admired by the artist and fits his/her image, we now have the capability of levelling out the playing field and making things financially beneficial for all parties involved."
What surprises me here, is that I'm not actually surprised by any of this. The music industry is desperate to monetise itself – anything is possible. Kluger's "famous recording artist" in question is The Pussycat Dolls. Now, that's certainly a tempting proposition: "Don't cha wish your website was hot like this?"