Wouldn't You Like To Hear The Album, Too?

The last time I checked, Dr Pepper wasn't Axl Rose's drink of choice.

Of course, things may have changed. The last time I cared about what Guns N' Roses' lead singer was drinking was 17 years ago. My college friends and I were taking bets on which member of the band would die from drug or alcohol poisoning first. (No one won because none of us was dumb enough to take the winning answer: none. And Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon--who sang back-up on a couple tracks--didn't count.)

But, apparently, Dr Pepper thinks linking to Axl Rose--a faded superstar if there ever was one--is a marketable idea, even if there's no obvious reason for the pairing. The Cadbury Schweppes company says it will give everyone (okay, nearly everyone; estranged GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead will not be getting anything) in the United States a free can of soda if Axl releases his "masterpiece" (their words, not mine) in calendar year 2008.

In a release announcing the promotion Wednesday, Jaxie Alt, director of marketing for Dr Pepper, says: "We know once it's released, people will refer to it as 'Dr Pepper for the ears' because it will be such a refreshing blend of rich, bold sounds--an instant classic." As far as I can tell, that's the only connection between the band and the brand.



A year and a half ago, I wrote a story for another publication on the continuing merger of the advertising and music industries. (Even Madonna's releasing new singles through commercials for other brands.) Part of the story hinged on a "leaked" Harley-Davidson commercial that featured a new track from Axl/GNR's long-awaited--actually, long-delayed; I doubt even Dr Pepper addicts are awaiting this release--album "Chinese Democracy." Axl's manager said he expected the album to be out by Christmas 2006.

That manager is long gone, and the album still isn't out. And that's probably a good thing. While it's true that some things are worth waiting for, "Chinese Democracy" (the album, not the real thing) isn't one of them, judging from the snippet I heard.

Promotions tied to certain people or groups doing things are a pretty safe bet for the sponsors. I have never claimed the free burrito Taco Bell offered when the Bulls broke 120 points at a game I was attending. (It was the Michael Jordan era, when such things were possible.) And I still have ticket stubs I was going to use to claim a free cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee thanks to the Cubs scoring runs in the first inning. But Dr Pepper's promotion is genius: There's virtually no chance the Axl/GNR album will see the light of day in any of our lifetimes.

But I do plan to keep this offer in mind, because stranger things have happened. After all, some schmuck in Arizona named his poor daughter Brooklyn Elizabeth on Leap Day last month--and then told Domino's about it--just so he could get $1,000 in free pizza.

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