Addicted to novelty since 2001

Gwen Stefani Plugs HP

I know this is a recurring theme on this site, but rest assured I don’t post here every time I see an artist exploiting their fame to promote products. I know I’m tilting at windmills, but I find it deeply distasteful and, often, an unprincipled decision by the artist. I’ll spare you the usual Neil Young citation.

The latest example is Gwen Stefani shilling for HP:

I wonder if she dreamed of pimping printers back when she was in a little Anaheim ska band? Did visions of glossy paper float through her head when she slept in the back of the van? I found this quote from Ms. Stefani, from back in March, 2005:

“Y’know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, ‘OK, fuck you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me.'”

She’s ruling the world, one colour laser jet at a time. I wonder how much she makes for this campaign? And does she really need the money?

As a side note, I saw this ad on TSN’s video site. This is probably a secondary broadcast medium for the ad, but it’s interesting to think about whether the Gwen Stefani + HP Printers + TSN equation makes sense. Particularly when, strangely, they’re promoting Stefani-themed paper dolls. Bizarre.

4 Responses to “Gwen Stefani Plugs HP”

  1. Karen

    I thought the same thing when I saw Michel Gondry’s HP ad, but it makes a bit more sense for him – the ad showcases his arts-and-crafts aesthetic that would come back in Be King Rewind, and I perhaps he was trying to appeal to a more mainstream-geek crowd rather than his usual film-geek posse.

  2. Karen

    I thought the same thing when I saw Michel Gondry’s HP ad, but it makes a bit more sense for him – the ad showcases his arts-and-crafts aesthetic that would come back in Be King Rewind, and perhaps he was trying to appeal to a more mainstream-geek crowd rather than his usual film-geek posse. And the ad itself is wonderful, which never hurts. I had a massive “WTF” thought bubble when I saw the Gwen Stefani one too.

  3. Derek K. Miller

    “It used to be about the music, man.”

    I think the concept of selling out as a negative thing is simply fading away for many artists. Perhaps it is an inevitable consequence of file sharing, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

    Sure, Stefani is still making lots of money from record sales, but as recordings are seen more and more as promotional items that are given away free in the hopes of making money from concerts, merchandise, licensing, and so on, that may change for her and many others.

    Maybe I’m going all Chris Anderson here, but I also think today’s music listener isn’t naive: we know Stefani is shilling for HP, just as she’s shilling for her own L.A.M.B. clothing line and so on — and just as making music videos we could watch for free used to be shilling for No Doubt CDs.

    I’d rather she make smart business decisions for herself, and with any luck make some decent music while she’s at it, than follow the Britney/Lindsay path, personally. I would like her to get back to the sweaty-crazy stage antics of her ska days, but maybe that’s just me.

  4. darren

    Derek: Yeah, we have this conversation every time I post one of these complaints. There’s obviously a continuum, with ‘only music’ at one end, and ‘corporate shill’ at the other end.

    For example, is contributing a song to a commercial is a lesser evil than appearing in an ad? I’m not sure, because the former sullies your art, while the latter is just trading on your fame. Anyway, they’re both on the continuum somewhere.

    Anyhow, in Ms. Stefani’s specific case, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need the money.

    And +1 on the ‘sweaty-crazy stage antics of her ska days’. She seems to aspire to be Madonna 2.0.

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