I’ve been watching with equal parts interest and disgust the beginnings of this whole Band in a Bubble thing – in case you haven’t heard, it’s a reality show in which the band Cartel goes into a glass house/recording studio in NYC for 20 days to record their next album. Today I found my way to a post about it on The Lefsetz Letter and then a response from one of the band members. I like Bob Lefsetz and a lot of the time he’s spot on, but sometimes what he writes sounds like the kind of thing an old man would scream to nobody in particular from a rocking chair on the front porch. His post is all about how he’s sick of marketing plans and misses The Sex Pistols; the band’s response is about how they know it’s kind of lame but they want to get exposure and sell records.
I’m going to come out and comment on this conflict that nobody cares about by saying, “Meh.” Let me just check here…nope, I don’t care about it either, it’s just not that interesting. I don’t fault Cartel for deciding to do this, and I don’t fault Bob Lefsetz for hating the show. They’re both right. I would have done it myself if I had been invited (depending on the details of the deal of course), and lots of people would think I was a sellout, and lots of people would hear about me and buy my stuff. Boring. Not as boring as me alone in a bubble for 20 days though.
What I do think is astounding is the degree to which the sponsors have made it difficult to actually watch the content of the show. As I understand it, there will be 4 edited half-hour shows on TV. On the website there are 24 cameras running 24 hours a day, a band blog, etc. Kind of an interesting shift I think – suddenly the bulk of the content of this piece of entertainment is online instead of on television, and it’s totally live, unpredictable and thus very inexpensive content. Here’s the kicker though – to watch those cameras you have to register with your email, home phone and address AND you have to enter a special code you get from a Dr. Pepper bottlecap (mine was H9S4AEAARJ9Q by the way). This gives you 24 hours of access and then you’re shut off from the website. You can’t even read the blog (!) without entering a new code (and buying a Dr. Pepper) every day. And the kitchen camera can only be accessed with a code from participating Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Boy, I bet some awesome stuff happens in the kitchen.
What on earth could they be thinking? From a marketing perspective, the whole point of a web presence like this is having some content that other people can link to, right? Or am I the idiot here? Are they really going to sell that many more Dr. Peppers and 3-piece meals by locking down the content this way? Wouldn’t they be a lot better off with the exposure they’d get just making it all freely available all the time with banner ads and coupons and such?
P.S. Dr. Pepper is gross.