Thursday, September 16, 2010

William Hill bets on The Sex Pistols

The bottom line is the bottom line – even if you’re punk legends.

The Sex Pistols have licensed “Pretty Vacant” to U.K. sports betting company William Hill for a campaign encouraging wagering on soccer.

The Sex Pistols - William Hill ad (2010)

Ian Cassie, Executive Creative Director of The Bank (the ad agency that created the campaign), said: "It’s testament to the team at William Hill that they took, what could be considered for many, as an unconventional approach to feature the Sex Pistols against graceful football action. What we wanted to achieve was a direct response ad that stood out by mixing a blend of the classic and the contemporary – featuring an iconic band like the Sex Pistols demonstrates what an iconic brand William Hill has always been."

What “Pretty Vacant” has to do with soccer or gambling (or gambling on soccer) is anyone’s guess; it’s a concept built around "image association” – the Pistols were rebels, and you can be, too – but, judging by the ad, even that’s a stretch. So, it’s likely more about recognition and notoriety – “if we do this, we’ll stand out from our competition and get this much attention” – and here we are talking about a company most of us may never have heard of, so they already come out ahead (and think of the number of blogs, like hennemusic, giving the ad free placement and promotion: the folks at William Hill can send me a cheque any time for this, thank you very much.)

The Pistols were paid an undisclosed amount of money for the use of the song, and each band member was given a £500 bet to make for a charity of their choice.

While it’s the first time a Pistols song has been used in an ad campaign, it isn’t the first time they’ve been associated with advertising: Johnny Rotten appeared in a butter ad campaign back in 2008.

Johnny Rotten – Country Life Butter ad (2008)

Despite criticism for doing the butter campaign (as if he would care), Rotten said he used the money to finance the PiL (Public Image Limited) reunion tour.

Rotten recently told U.K. newspaper The Guardian: "I showed what I can do with butter, right? 85% increase in sales. I’m very proud of them Country Life ads. They were funny and clever and classy. But no one’s come in for me with anything else. Like Red Stripe lager. I drink lakes of the stuff. Why haven’t I been signed up for something like that? Or Marlboro fags? It amazes me that people don’t get the opportunity of me. I sell."

Pretty Pretty Vacant - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant (1977)