The other day, for about the 27th time, UPS sent me an email that commenced with a reminder of how irresponsible and thoughtless a human being I've become: "Our records indicate that you have not taken advantage of My UPS recently." Upon further investigation, I learned that I haven't tracked a package in a number of weeks, which I can only assume has rattled the company to the core of its being. Understandably, then, UPS called on me to reaffirm my commitment to the cause - indeed, to reaffirm my commitment to America. Heaven forbid it should just stash my data away, like every other e-entity has done since the beginning of the Internet.
Nonetheless, I re-upped with My UPS, because I am nothing if not a considerate partner within the context of corporate relationships. But upon visiting the site, I made a most unexpected discovery: That one of my favorite bands is in bed with UPS. That's right: Pearl Jam has been seduced by the charms of Big Delivery.
Apparently the band threw an awesome 20th anniversary bash in the wilds of Wisconsin last Labor Day weekend and needed to ship a metric assload of stuff halfway across the country for the occasion. Being a bunch of idealistic, decent fellas, the band members worried about the environmental impact of doing so. Thus was born a relationship with UPS, which got the gear into place without unleashing a carbon tornado or harming a single twig. In turn, UPS put together a video highlighting its role in the effort, which debuted on UPS.com a few weeks back.
The relationship is a real coup for UPS. Pearl Jam is one of the few A-list acts that has integrity to spare - though probably not as much as Cameron Crowe's fawning PJ20 documentary, which proclaims that the band is 13 times more incorruptible than the Dalai Lama and Spider-Man combined, would have us believe. Unfortunately for everyone involved, however, the clip overplays that hand.
PJ guitarist Stone Gossard, a smart guy who usually self-deprecates with great and welcome ease, comes across as a bit of a scold. And by touting its role in helping Pearl Jam atone for its enviro-sins, UPS unwittingly calls attention to its own actions. My first thought upon viewing the video: "Holy kashmoly - if a caravan of Pearl Jam semis can do so much damage, the UPS fleet must be punching earth-sized holes in the ozone layer every afternoon." That's probably not what the company envisioned.
Also, let's be honest. It's impossible not to mock do-gooder rockers, especially when they start chirping about carbon output and other topics above their pay grade. When Gossard asks, "What can Pearl Jam and UPS talk each other into doing that will really make people go 'Wow!'?," it's like, whoa, great question, dude! Maybe streak at a WNBA game? Or have Scott Davis join the band for an "I Got You Babe" remake? Mindstatus: blown.
As for the video itself, it's innocuous enough. Over the strains of Pearl Jam's "Of the Girl," Gossard yaps about sustainabilityitude. We see clips of Pearl Jam old and new and we see a train. We get jealous that nobody has invited us to visit the band's warehouse. That's all. There are worse ways to spend slightly under three minutes, like by pondering the environmental impact of a television set expelled from Keith Moon's hotel window and into the pool below.
UPS has long ranked as the country's worst corporate sloganeer. Between setting "That's Logistics" to the tune of "That's Amore" and the whole "What can brown, which is the color of poop, do for you?" thing, the company's marketing sometimes obscures the fact that it is the best at what it does. "Pearl Jam: A Story of Logistics" – which should certainly be given due consideration as an album title down the road - is just another small misstep. I doubt it matters much in the grand scheme of things.