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
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
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?"