In its years-long effort to fight music piracy, have record labels ever made a good move with consumers? Courtesy of Peter Kafka at All Things D, we came upon what has to be the least effective tactic yet. This is the kind of bone-headed marketing approach that seems designed to make you feel good about whatever failings your own your strategy may suffer. It goes wrong on so many levels.
Victory Records has issued a kind of PSA video featuring the relentlessly and professionally annoying Gilbert Gottfried. Gottfried has his uses, to be sure. He is good in three second bursts of commentary on TV tripe like "Top 100 Celebrity Palimony Suits." Put Gilbert in a corner of the screen after a choice clip setting up the story and maybe he will blurt a quasi-clever "what was he thinking" line. Cut! Cue Danny Bonaduce. In extended rants, Gottfried wears thin fast.
And so why Victory Records would enlist him to go on for more than two minutes about the stupidity of music piracy is anyone's guess. First, he insults the audience. Ostensibly arguing that excuses of pirating music are ill-considered at best and lame-brained at worst, the entire video sets the view up as straw man. Gottfried suggests that you try telling McDonalds your meal should be free because you think they are a billion dollar corporation that can afford to give stuff away free. And what would McDonald's say in response to your request? "F**k You!" Gottfried insists, and this become the refrain throughout the ad.
So let's get this straight. In order to fight piracy, the record labels have dragged consumers into court, sued every Web tech company they could find, and have given music lovers everywhere a big "F**k You" when consumers complained about the tactics. So why not spew profanity and suggest that consumers are delusional or stupid or both?
Surely someone at Victory Records thought that Gottfried's signature ranting would wrap the sharp edges of the core argument with the padding of good humor. Not really. Instead, Gottfried succeeds in being tedious within the first fifteen seconds and painful to watch before we are a minute. This is the kind of consumer lobbying effort you only show to captivate audiences; not people armed with a mouse and a Stop button.
And just to underscore how much regard Victory seems to have for the views of its own customers on this issue - "Adding comments has been disabled for this video," reads the YouTube page for the clip on Victory's YouTube channel. Shut up and watch.
What is next in the music industry's campaign to endear itself to consumers? The Ludovico Technique from Clockwork Orange? Prop our eyelids up to absorb propaganda videos that will make us nauseous at the thought of copying a Miley Cyrus CD? No wait, I don't think it's the Ludovico Treatment doing that.