Commentary

Hall & Oates Bring Out The Best In Brands, Naturally

What’s the official record for number of brands simultaneously boosted, burnished or otherwise bettered by/in a single video? Maybe two?

I’m sure there have been instances in which multiple entities hitched a ride to brand glory on each other’s coattails, but I’m hard-pressed to think of any. In most such cases, one plus one equals negative-six. Case in point, though not specifically from the realm of video: How are we feeling about Pepsi and the NFL after Sunday’s halftime extravaganza? The notion of a diabetes-juice merchant and a brain-trauma denier concluding their mutual endeavor with a message of peace and love is cynical even by my advanced standards, and I’ve long suspected that the Make-A-Wish Foundation is a front for the gun nuts or the bias [sic] liberal media.

This is why I’m blown away, or at least as blown away as one can be by a 55-second helping of content, by the brand clip dropped this week by Live Nation, Hall & Oates, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, IFC and Rolling Stone. Yes, it’s officially hosted on the Live Nation YouTube page, which gives LN official authorship and bragging rights. But it’s as collaborative an effort of this kind as we’re likely to see, and one that elevates every entity that has anything to do with it.

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Its impenetrably abstruse title notwithstanding, the purpose of “Daryl Hall & John Oates - Summer 2016 Tour” is to alert you, me and superfan Sheila to an imminent series of concert appearances (a “tour,” if you will) by Hall & Oates, which will take place during the summer of 2016. But rather than travel the expected announcement route for a legacy act - some vintage photos overlaid atop a five-pack of theduo’smostlovedsongs, with details conveyed via a thick, lustrous baritone voiceover - Hall & Oates (or Live Nation, or whoever) had the good sense to bring in Fred Armisen and Bill Hader to add promotional luster.

They do so as Gene Allen and Clark Honus, the ragey purveyors of gentle-as-a-meadow-breeze songthings they portray on IFC’s “Documentary Now!” Hall & Oates, it seems, used to open for Blue Jean Committee, Allen’s and Honus’ band. Every party within the intertwined relationship felt deep feelings deeply, it seems, in a manner eerily parallel to those shared in History of the Eagles. Allen/Armisen and Honus/Hader find plenty of material upon which to turbo-riff, including groupies (Hall & Oates attracted more) and cheesesteaks (the transcendent cultural identifier for all Philadelphians).

Thus Armisen and Hader are winners here, owing to the ease with which they transform an easy shill job into something funnier and more pop-culturally informed. But everybody else comes off really well, too. Elwood, fetch me my thought-delineating bullets!

  • IFC: IFC’s original iteration, as the Independent Film Channel, wasn’t for me. I demand a six-explosion minimum for all movies (including historical dramas set in Elizabethan England… ESPECIALLY historical dramas set in Elizabethan England) and thus am not curious about I Am Curious (Yellow). But a few years back, when IFC formally and willfully lowered its brow, I found myself gravitating to the net’s offbeat sensibilities – “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” “Maron” and now “Documentary Now!” IFC’s archness feels borderline revolutionary, especially when pitted against the “funny” offerings of pretty much every traditional network (read: non-Internetty) entity. Associating “Documentary Now!” and the IFC brand with the Hall & Oates tour and a monolith like Live Nation, then, lands in the sweet spot between “lark” and “desperate stab at self-mainstreaming.”
  • Rolling Stone: I grew up worshipping every word published in Rolling Stone and thus have complicated feelings about the modern-day version of the mag (cue regularly scheduled refrain of “everything was better when I was young, except mobile communications and sandwich kiosks and ultimate-fighting consortiums and children’s car-seat latches and okay nothing was better when I was young and nostalgia is the saddest of the sad opiates”). Because the magazine has moved on and I have not, I only check in when it gets an audience with Mr. Springsteen or one ofhis associates. And yet it appears that RS was given the first crack at “Summer 2016 Tour” – or if it wasn’t, among all other publishers RS most effectively viralized it. That bodes good things for its ability to remain relevant in these end times for established magazine brands.
  • Live Nation: Because my event-attendance days are largely behind me, I don’t subscribe to the “Live Nation is evil, because $14.90-per-ticket convenience fees aren’t rock and roll! It used to be about the music, man!” Those fees suck, clearly, but they’re kind of like hotel taxes in one’s home state: Any tax/fee that lands on somebody else is one that doesn’t land on me. In any event, while “wry” and “self-aware” rank right up there alongside “frisky” and “socialist” in the list of adjectives that have rarely been used to describe Live Nation, the “Summer 2016 Tour” clip suggests that the LN brand might have a bit more spring in its step than heretofore demonstrated.
  • Hall & Oates: How cool is it when the zeitgeist comes back around on a worthy, broadly appealing act like Hall & Oates? Very cool, that’s how cool. Even if Mssrs. Hall and Oates have no idea this video exists, which seems entirely possible, they deserve huge props for vesting it with its raison d’être. Go Daryl! Go John! Fellow underappreciated1980s-eratitans, take note.
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