But rock n' roll they did, as Led Zeppelin hit the stage for the first time in 27 years last night in a tribute concert to Ahmet Ertegun, the late founder of Atlantic Records. The media and fan frenzy has been phenomenal, with tickets available by ballot only via the Ahmet Ertegun Foundation tribute website, where over one million fans vied for 18,000 tickets.
Rumors of a world tour to follow have been circling for weeks, and, while as a Led Zeppelin Fan (and attendee of their last full concert as a schoolboy back in 1979) this is exciting enough in itself, the phenomenal staying power of a great rock band is exciting from a marketing perspective too. With the war in Iraq still raging and the reluctant acknowledgment of baby boomers' spending power, marketers have been evoking the 1960's again to sell products, and Zep is a major touchstone of the era.
Linking a brand to a Led Zeppelin tour could be a global marketer's dream; the legendary group's appeal transcends age, class, nationality and evokes emotion that any band or brand would die for. Check out this piece from BBC News and witness the cross-section of the audience and the sheer emotion of being there.
Led Zeppelin have always been very protective of their repertoire and have seldom allowed their works to be licensed, though in recent years their position has softened on the issue. Cadillac used the song "Rock and Roll" in their "breakthrough" commercial, and the songs of Led Zeppelin can be heard in movies such as "One Day in September," "School of Rock" and even "Shrek the Third" -- it was "Immigrant Song" in all three.
Whether the band would allow a brand to be associated with them in a broader way is a big question, but if a marketer were lucky enough to get the opportunity, they'd certainly be generating a "Whole Lotta Love" with consumers.