U2 & ABC's Marriage Of Convenience

Taking the "pop" concept a bit too far?

K-Mart, PopMart, oversized flying lemons, a gigantic Golden Arch, the biggest

video screen ever assembled--nothing seems to be above, or below, U2 in their

latest attempt to re-capture "the world's most ironic band" crown.


latest test of their audience's faith is a glitzy, gaudy, tie-in with ABC

television called "ABC is POP." The network, in a shameless bid to lure young

viewers, has collaborated with U2 for a month-long cross-promotional tie-in, to

be kicked-off on April 26 with "U2: A Year in Pop," the one-hour documentary

ATN reported on previously, which will include up-to-the-minute live footage

from the opening night of the PopMart tour (April 25) at Sam Boyd Stadium in

Las Vegas.

The marketing marriage is being hyped by ABC. In a press

release, the network quoted their Executive Vice President of ABC Marketing,

Alan Cohen, who called it an "unprecedented promotional campaign which will

embrace U2's attitude, style and image to create a unique look and sound for

on-air promos, print and radio advertising. We are thrilled with the merging of

two influential brand names: U2 and ABC. We are proud to have the greatest rock

band in the world come to the great populist medium of television."


far, we've only seen one spot, which ran during the appropriately slacker Monday

night airing of "Reality Bites," and it showed clips of the "Staring at the

Sun" video interspersed with clips for shows like "Coach," "Roseanne," and the

"Family Matters."

According to the press materials, the campaign was

developed with U2's creative team "utilizing the band's music, album, video and

tour graphics, as well as their iconography and elaborate staging concepts."

The U2-style ads will run during prime time...

The U2-style ads will run during prime time and over the

end credits of ABC shows and just might remind viewers of ABC's previous

rock-oriented campaign, the November 1995 "A Beatles C," in conjunction with

the multi-part "Anthology" series.

"ABC is embracing the Pop concept

whole-heartedly, almost taking it to another level," a source in the U2 camp

told ATN. "It's a play on words, you know, expressing the attitude of the

people they want to tap into audience-wise, they want to target the U2 crowd,

the Pop Generation."

The source speculated that the network must have

offered the band a "pretty good deal" to use their likeness and music, but said

you certainly won't be hearing U2 write an "ABC jingle" anytime soon.


another example of their coziness with the #2 network, U2 offered up a cover of

the Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun," for the "Gun," a six-part, star-studded

television serial that follows the adventures of a gun as it changes hands.

Segments of "Gun" are being handled by hip directors including Robert Altman

(Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts) and Ted Demme

("Beautiful Girls," "Who's The Man, " "The Ref").

Altman isn't the only U2

fan/friend with whom U2 have collaborated with in conjunction with the ABC

deal. Old pal Dennis Hopper narrates the U2 special, which will force network

editors into overtime when they try to incorporate brand new live footage into

the mix of backstage and historical scenery just hours after the Las Vegas show


Paul McGuinness, manager of U2 and Executive Producer of the TV

special, said, "The band and I are really enjoying this opportunity to

infiltrate a major television network." The only question we have, then, is

"who's infiltrating who?"