How Can Brands Get It So Wrong

29th October, 2008

I read today that convicted sex-offender Gary Glitter is likely to earn £100,000 in royalties after Hewlett-Packard used a cover of one of his songs in a campaign to promote its new touch-screen model, TouchSmart in the US.

HP's ad uses Glitter's 1973 hit 'Do You Wanna Touch Me'. although the song featured in the ad is actually a cover version performed by Joan Jett recorded in 1982. However, because the song was penned by Glitter he will receive the royalties. Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, could earn more if the advert becomes a popular internet download.

Child, a US child abuse prevention group, said the choice of song "shows a distinct lack of sensitivity". Glitter returned to the UK earlier this year after spending 27 months in a Vietnamese jail for abusing two young girls.

HP are not the first to get it so wrong.....

In 1997 Glitter was convicted for possession of indecent images of children and despite this, featured him in its email marketing in 2006 just prior to his latest conviction.

In the email, which offered theatre tickets in London's West End, a section on children's theatre and plays was headed with two young boys' faces and titled "Doing it for the kids". The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the advert, saying it breached decency rules and played on "contemporary, tasteless humour".

You would have thought that choosing Gary Glitter or his music to help promote your brand would have had to involved a whole chain of people from original concept to final sign off by the client and yet some people just can't see the glaringly obvious.

Jason Edge

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