This is the story of Johnny Rotten, aka John Lydon. While most rock n' rollers today are basically giving their songs away to marketers like Compaq, Volkswagen and Mountain Dew, Neil Young, reportedly, refuses to sell his music to commercials and now Johnny Rotten, leader of the resurrected Sex Pistols, also appears to be taking a principled stand. Mr. Rotten and his bandmates-minus the late Sid Vicious-reunited last week for an appearance at a punk rock festival in California sponsored by Levi Strauss & Co. and KROCK, the local FM station, and Mr. Rotten, 46, gave the jeansmaker a piece of what's left of his mind.
"If you think we are doing this for Levi's or KROCK there is no f***ing way," he snarled before starting his set with the tune "Bodies." Dean Goodman, a Reuters reporter, described the stirring scene for Adages. "Johnny was wearing baggy pants that kept falling down and had to tie them up with a drawstring." (Talk about being "dangerously low." A spokesperson for Levi's said that Mr. Rotten was not wearing Levi's.) He then called KROCK a "crock of sh**." MTV he labeled an "empty vessel" and he dedicated the Pistol's tune "Lies" to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.
"It was the end of a really, really long day," Dean says. " Most of the people had left. There were lots of empty seats. And there were lots of 16-year-old kids who probably didn't know anything about the Sex Pistols."
Later, Mr. Rotten refused to participate in filming a Levi's electronic press kit with bandmates Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook. Mr. Rotten told one photographer backstage, "I'm not a f***in' tourist attraction." However, Johnny did enter a trailer where press and performers were helping themselves to Levi's stash, in other words, Filthy Lucre. Eyewitnesses say Mr. Rotten made off with a fistful of Levi's "wife beaters," aka tank tops.
Flashback: Mr. Rotten sang "Route 66" for a BBDO Mountain Dew spot in 1996.
The bitch is back
Last week, the Office of National Drug Control Policy pulled a TV spot that featured the line: "Responsibility's a bitch." The Feds didn't want to offend. What a coincidence: also last week Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado pulled a print ad created by McClain Finlon Advertising in Denver, that featured the "b" word: "The hill may dominate you. But the town will still be your bitch," read the ad, which targeted young snowboarders and extreme skiers. According to the agency brief, the campaign was meant to exploit Breckinridge's rep as a party town. Mayor Sam Mamula, however, wasn't about to let his town get slapped around. Mayor Mamula sent a letter of complaint to the ski resort and told the Rocky Mountain News: "The next step is not just pull the ad, but decide what we can do to convince families to come back here." Try opening up another bunny slope.
Our favorite cannibal Hannibal Lecter, of "The Silence of the Lambs" fame, chews human flesh. What better move tie-in than ... chewing gum? William Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Big Red struck a deal with Universal for sponsored screenings of "Red Dragon" at 50 college campuses. Students attending the free screenings of Hannibal's latest flick, in which he'll mostly likely gnaw on some poor sucker's ribcage, will receive Big Red booty. Just imagine, a theater-full of munching mouths during the dinner scene. Ah, the genius of modern marketing! Are we not all cannibals?
Contributing: Wayne Friedman Email your Adages tie-in ideas to rlinnett@crain