Thursday, January 03, 2008

Indies smack Stone over puffers puff piece

Cigarette advertising. It's a touchy subject, even in those countries where it's still legal to push fags, like America. Rolling Stone is finding this out the hard way - where the phrase "hard way" refers to "not having thought through the consequences of certain actions". An apparent attempt to link indie rock and Camel cigarettes through a pull-out special section in the magazine has received threats of legal action from nine states of the Union and this angry letter from labels representing the acts who were bounced into endorsing lung cancer:

"An Open Letter to Rolling Stone"

We, the undersigned independent record labels, wish to share our indignation regarding Rolling Stone's November 15th pull out editorial, which featured the names of our artists in conjunction with an ad for Camel cigarettes. This editorial cartoon gives every impression of being part and parcel of the advertisement wrapped around it.

The use of an artist's name to promote a brand or product should be done only with the artist's explicit consent, something that was neither solicited nor obtained from the labels or bands.

When questioned, Rolling Stone has referred to the "Indie Rock Universe" pull out section as an "editorial", but it hardly seems accidental that this editorial content is wrapped in a giant ad from R.J. Reynolds announcing their support for independent artists and labels. The idea that this was a coincidence in any way seems dubious at best. There are two other pull out sections in this same issue of Rolling Stone. Both are wrapped in advertising, but neither of these ads could be construed as part of the editorial content within.

Many of the bands named, and the labels that represent them, are very unhappy with the implication that they have any involvement with R.J. Reynolds and Camel cigarettes. We ask that Rolling Stone apologize for blurring the line between editorial and advertisement, and in doing so, implying that the bands named support the product being advertised.


Kill Rock Stars, Touch and Go, Skin Graft, Lovepump United, Lucky Madison, 5RC, Audio Dregs, and Fryk Beat.

Some of the bands who feature in the pull-out are also less than thrilled at having their name linked with ciggies. Fucked Up, for example:
It was definetely a "wtf" moment. We were confused because we had seen the pullout online a few weeks prior and just thought it was some Rolling Stone article, because the online version isn't connected to any advertisment. We got an email from our friends AIDS WOLF a few days ago saying that all these bands were in a Camel ad but that no smoke cigarettes one knew what it looked like. It took a bit of searching to figure out that the pullout was the ad. We didn't think it was exciting, just lame. I mean its hard to explain how you react to something like this - I wasn't so much angry, just bummed out. It's just so typical that this would happen, and there is nothing you can really do about it. I know that Camel is being sued now by US states, but ours is a different issue and almost has nothing to do with Camel - there are so many levels that things like this happen through, its hard to even figure out who to be mad at.

Of course, the co-option of bands into advertising materials is dubious regardless of what the product is; you just think that with cigarettes, they'd be a little more careful than usual.