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Rock & sell

16/02/2006 - par Mark Tungate

Last night I was back at the Élysée Montmartre for a Goldfrapp concert (which was classy and cool - per­haps a bit too cool ; verging on the glacial). Before the event began, it struck me for the first time that the Élysée Montmartre is a sponsorship and advertising-free zone. It is almost a marketing vacuum.

As we queued up outside, under-employed people in baseball caps gave away flyers promoting other rock bands. But this is prehistoric marketing. Meanwhile, just across the street, I noticed the big, blank grey wall of an empty building. I could just imagine a huge logo projected on it by a searchlight (the Bacardi bat, perhaps ?), in full view of hundreds of influential bobo/branché/gay consumers. Don't tell me it's illegal : by the time the flics arrivent, the job is done.

Inside the shamefully decaying Élysée Montmartre itself, there was even less marketing. No banners, no posters. Is advertising banned there ? What if somebody like Absolut had sponsored the event, offering vodka shots for one euro ? Would we have felt corrupted ? Or would we have subconsciously credited Absolut for partnering with such a compatible product ?

In fact, all the marketing was being done on the stage. It's no coincidence that bands sell CDs and T-shirts when they are on tour. Live music in this context is primarily designed to shift units. Goldfrapp's gig was a beautiful, elegant machine, precision engineered to sell albums. Other forms of media were few and far between.

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