The Month in Press Release Idiocy


You can keep your fancy-pants Pitchfork criticism. For my money — and believe me, I have none of it — the finest music prose isn’t some college boy’s flower-power review of the new long player by England’s hottest beat group. It’s not some hepcat rap blogger carving up Weezy’s toots with a silver fork and knife, pal. For the best pop writing, you’ve gotta get down in the trenches and wallow in the serious shit. Buddy, I’m talking about the press releases.

These are dispatches from hell itself, the front lines where art fights commerce and loses. Written by men and women who maybe aren’t the fanciest writers, maybe aren’t the brightest, but they’ve got a god-damned job to do: whatever the cost to their souls, they’re gonna tell you what kind of shoes Justin Bieber is pretending to like this week. They’re going to throw themselves down in the muck and the slime and they’re going to dig up the story on Taylor Swift’s latest brand collaboration. I salute these brave reporters, and it’s the least I can do to make fun of them until I throw up laughing.

Justin Bieber stars in the new adidas NEO Label interactive lookbook and Spring/Summer campaign

As one of the world’s hippest leading global fashion consumer apparelwear brands, Adidas knows how to reach young consumers: Bieber and hashtags!

NEW YORK, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — adidas NEO Label has released an interactive digital lookbook to showcase its Spring/Summer 2013 collection along with new campaign imagery and video featuring global phenomenon and POP/R&B superstar Justin Bieber , who was appointed as NEO global style icon in October.

The NEO label’s target consumer is “a teen who is finding their edge in the everyday and putting their mark on it,” so Bieber’s involvement is a major marketing coup. This interactive lookbook — which is “completely clickable and shoppable,” to boot — is the perfect showcase for some dope Biebs branding and totally fresh PR copy:

One of the short films features Justin Bieber showing off his musical talents, while the others spotlight teens enjoying the summer sun while taking risks and expressing their version of living their style.

We do indeed get to see the musical chops that made Bieber a household name: in the final video, Bieber drums on a bucket for a full five seconds before kicking it away; meanwhile, Adidas delivers on the “taking risks” promise with some YOLO teen rebel behavior:

  • A girl hula-hoops on a roof, which is a little less intense than it sounds but still pretty intense.
  • Couple’a knuckleheads run up and down the stairs! Knock it off, you two!
  • Some punk does the thing from the “Make ‘Em Laugh” number in Singin’ in the Rain where you run up a wall and do a flip off it– and the little fucker probably thinks he invented it, too.
  • One kid draws elaborate doodles during a math test, which in terms of serious adult-life consequences is probably the riskiest thing here.
  • Another teen bites a red pepper, which is all the riskier because the pepper they picked looks an awful darn lot like — if you’ll pardon me for pointing it out — a doggie wang.

But they already had Bieber on board, so I wonder why they didn’t just get a shot of him with a fat J in one hand and a double Styro cup of lean in the other. This kid’s Ferrari and his monkey have been arrested in the last couple months, but Adidas settles for hula hooping? What a waste.

Anyway, since this is cutting-edge digital branding aimed at tech-savvy teens, you bet your sweet behind there’s a mad fresh social media component:

Each section of the lookbook personifies a different aspect of the #liveyourstyle philosophy and is marked with distinctive hashtags including #nailit #dreamit #styleit.

Because if you put a hashtag on something, it will “go viral” and trend on Twitter! The millions of dollars and hours of social media strategy meetings totally paid off, too: a few dozen people, nearly all from the hardcore Belieber corners of Twitter, totally used the #liveyourstyle hashtag. No traction on #dreamit and #styleit, although one person used the #nailit hashtag to talk about Converse, so that must count for something.

Elsewhere in press release hell:

    • Smoldering actor/R&B sexguy Tyrese Gibson has become a bonafide triple threat: he’s now the director of, in the actual words of the press release, “one of the most universally acclaimed documentaries to come from an artist in decades.” In case you missed it at Cannes, A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete is a 45-minute commercial for Tyrese, made by Tyrese as a beautiful gift for all those who love Tyrese as much as Tyrese loves Tyrese.Tyrese starts the film with a few minutes about his tough upbringing in Watts, but it doesn’t stick to the depressing stuff too long — it’s mostly about how “blessed” he is, which is a special word for when super humble people talk about how rich and famous they are. Or, as the press release puts it, “The Tyrese Gibson journey continues with a level of truth and dexterity unlike any other talent in modern day entertainment.”Judging by the 8 comments on the video, the acclaim is pretty universal indeed. Everyone loved it, except one person who wanted more gritty upbringing stuff, and another guy who couldn’t get Flash to work.
    • Congratulations to singer/actor/TV presenter Carlos Ponce for winning the Hispanicize 2013 Latinovator award, which carries the noble distinction of being the worst name for a thing since the Logo Network’s NewNowNext “Always Next, Forever Now” award.
    • SiriusXM’s Alt Nation is giving listeners the chance to play ping-pong with Muse! Because, hey, fuck it, whatever! “We know the guys are avid fans of ping pong, and we know Alt Nation listeners are massive fans of Muse, this makes perfect sense,” said a SiriusXM exec, painfully straining the definitional boundaries of “perfect sense.” You can get in on the “Madness” (ho ho!) by following something on Twitter and tweeting some kind of hashtag, of course.
  • Taylor Swift has signed on for a “footwear collaboration” with, I must admit, a brand that sums up the Taylor Swift aesthetic better than any other: Keds. Obligatory coerced promo quote from Swift herself: “The sneakers are really fun and easy to wear, and the designs reflect some of my favorite things.” I can totally see her rockin’ these rad kicks on the cover of Real Simple. Taylor Swift is human Keds.

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