The Big Hurt: Shill crazy

The week in corporate sponsorships
By DAVID THORPE  |  May 21, 2010


You know, I might stop following real music journalism altogether. Press releases are so much better. Just when I start thinking it’s a slow week in silly pop news, I check the PR wire — a/k/a the bottom of the barrel — and dig up two of the greatest items I’ve ever seen.

“DEGREE ENCOURAGES WOMEN TO RELEASE THEIR OUTDOORPHINS AT LILITH FAIR THIS SUMMER” The headline’s definitely a winner in the adorable-witty-coinage department, but the cleverest wording is buried in the deodorant maker’s release itself:

“A recent survey conducted by Degree Women reveals that 85 percent of women surveyed say they would like to spend more time outdoors and many women (40 percent) have even gone so far as to call in sick to work so they could enjoy a beautiful day outside. And 78 percent say using products with fragrances inspired by nature makes them feel happier.”

Amid all the fascinating statistics, did you notice the phrase “fragrances inspired by nature”? Now that’s a masterpiece of promotional wording — they’re trying to give off the impression of all-naturalness, but that “inspired” is such a hilarious nobody-fooler that you wonder why they’d even bother. And bad as it is, they manage to top it in the next paragraph, where they drop an even sicker one: fragrances inspired by natural ingredients.

What? Even the most heinously unnatural stuff is inspired by natural ingredients. Fucking Velveeta is inspired by cheese. Could anybody conceive of a more meaningless statement? You could offer a cash prize to the world’s top linguists and logicians and they’d all come up empty. Hell, Sarah Palin would be hard pressed to match it.

But! This is ostensibly a music column, right? Well, here’s the music bit — Degree is sponsoring Lilith 2010, a revival of the famed Lilith Fair of the ’90s. Fitting, since that always had sort of a hippie-ish, inspired-by-nature vibe, right?

“Degree Women and Lilith are all about celebrating women,” says Degree spokeswoman Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks, “and I know when I’m on stage I feel empowered, so I’m looking forward to sharing that experience this summer with all the fans.” I know you’re expecting me to sink to the level of misogynist japes about Lilith Fair’s long association with female-armpit aroma, but cheap shots like that are way beneath me. Instead, I’ll just insinuate the premise into your mind via denials that I’d sink to that level, then walk away whistling innocently. (And when I’m just out of view, I’ll do that thing where I jump up and click my heels together.)

“RITZ SERVES UP ALL THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS FOR THE ULTIMATE SUMMER BLOCK PARTY” Gotta pay homage to good ol’ Dave Barry for a minute with a brief assurance that I am not making this up. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

It is the published position of the Nabisco company that Wyclef Jean uttered the following words: “RITZ is all about fun! We are collaborating because music and food are always at the center of people getting together for good times, and ‘17’ (Marching Band Remix) is a song that helps us remember how much fun it was being young and hanging out with friends.”

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