Friday, February 10, 2006

Ugly Man v Multi-National Corporate Greed

In all my working life I have worked for wealth creating capitalist organisations. Growing through studenthood I fancied the idea of being a Psychiatric Nurse - mixed with the wrong sort - but that would have been strange after 4 years on a deeply vocational business studies course at Manchester Polytechnic.

Bare with me it's context. So Ugly Man records was not a vehicle for furthering the capitalist ideal, it was more wrought by a sixth form political sensitivity. Help people, get them onto the next level. Not a very viable model for progression in the corporate world that is the music business.

Two years into the project there I was, working with the anarchy that was The Man from Delmonte. As the blog develops you will see a fleshing out of what The Man from Delmonte was, what it sounded like, acted like, felt like. But this snippet of my life revolved around a letter that arrived in my Longsight home on 27/10/1987. The envelope promised much.

On opening it There was a letter from the Del Monte food corporation asking if we could get in touch and whether we fancied getting together for a chat in "That London" The delmontes had been gaining momentum from their first release and had obviously come to the notice of some hard working PR executive who felt the need to "touch base" - that's what they say in those circles.

I spoke to the band and got in touch with the letter writer setting up a meeting, under the illusion that the meeting would be a chance to talk about potential topics of mutual benefit.

I drove Martin and Mike from Manchester to the swanky offices of Del Monte's PR company in the Knightsbridge area of West London. There are posh offices and posh offices, these were swish and exuded a sense professionalism that I have never encountered since.

Mike and Martin dressed in the oxfam chic and me in my day job suit, we cut a sharp contrast to the surroundings and personnel sent to greet and accommodate us. We were swiftly invited to a beautiful boardroom environment. I can remember even at this point feeling a real sense of well being and potential advantage.

Bam the door shut. "Right let's give it to you straight we don't like what you're doing to our brand so stop it!!!" Having dragged us down at our expense to a cosy chat, so hard knock - well as hard as they come in PR - grabs us by the vitals and says rename your band coz it's causing us a problem.

Stunned for a second or two, we recoil. But quick as flash Mike tells them that their company is completely unconnected with his band and that they can't do anything about it. Adding to the sense of counter claim the point is raised that what they are doing in South Africa is in no way helping the band in the music press. Anxious journalists felt the band in some way glamorised the activities of the Del Monte corporation. The confusion to the consumer must have been immense.

Lasting less then 20 minutes we were treated to the levels of brand investment that Del Monte feel necessary to keep the cans stacked up in our cupboards and the zealous fervour with which they protect that investment. We left, crossing through tour support budget on our meeting agenda and headed back to the North.

We never got a follow up from the legal eagles and shortly after The Man from Delmonte - the band started to get on the telly and radio - blips in quarter 3 pineapple ring inventory may have resulted but fortunately Delmonte food corporation took it manfully on the chin.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Did they not say "tinned fruit is our life"?
And I know they asked us what the budget had been for our video, and then told us the budget for their advertising campaign.
I am still proud we were defient in the face of corporate bullying