I am surprised to notice how bad the current Coldplay ad for Viva la Vida is…especially as it is attached to Apple iTunes. (Have a look at it here.) The Gamma ad for iPod, figures dancing in profile, with music from The Ting Tings is just about the best thing on TV at the moment. (See it here.)
It’s weird; all the same elements are more or less in place. But in one case, the ad captures us. In the other, it holds itself up to ridicule. One is interesting, the other faint hearted, dim witted, adolescent and posturing.
So what happened? Apple has a pretty good track record. One can only guess that it has something to do with “artistic control” from Coldplay. In the modular world of popular music, Coldplay substituted for Radiohead. They were prepared to be populist where Radiohead insisted on being arty. And I have a weakness for bands that have a weakness like this.
But, gore blimey, there is a difference between accessible and bad. And we can’t imagine Radiohead signing off on something like this? Never. No, indeed, it precisely because everything popular (even things as good as Gamma) look to Radiohead as bad as the Viva la Vida ad that they insist on going all arty so often and so earnestly.
If bands are brands, and I think for some purposes they are a wonderfully interesting test bed for same, the Viva la Vida ad is a stinker that will cost them dear.