November 15th saw the launch of another collaboration between Chinese record label Maybe Mars’ indie rock darlings Carsick Cars and provider of instant coffee to the masses, Nescafe.
Using the slogan “Be Bold,” Nescafe enlisted 5 celebrity spokespersons from across China to unveil their latest China campaign: “Be Bold.” At the press conference, held at Shanghai’s 1933, a former abbatoir-turned-cultural space in the historic Hongkou district, Nestlé China tapped Beijing band Carsick Cars to perform for the assembled crowds. Part of the new campaign, the band performed two songs before ceding the stage to the other stars of the campaign, including Chinese racecar driver, author, and heartthrob Han Han. Star of the TV campaign, Han Han was also the star of the afternoon, with the majority of media attendees flocking to him for interviews once the press conference was over.
Carsick Cars’ last prominent venture into the mainstream was at a Coca-Cola sponsored event nearly two years ago. This time, they seemed like an afterthought to the main event. Maybe they were part of the package deal with Michael Pettis, founder of their record label Maybe Mars, owner of iconic Beijing venue D-22 and another one of Nestle’s spokespersons. Although their music fits into the brand’s charge to “Be Bold,” the band’s performance seemed tacked-on to both the press conference and the campaign itself. Their music is not part of the commercial starring Han Han and the band itself is not among the celebrity spokespeople tapped by Nestlé.
One of the biggest bands to come out of China’s indie music scene, Carsick Cars has toured extensively in the US, Europe, and Australia. They have a massive following amongst those “within the scene” but have yet to see that critical and niche respect translate into sizable mainstream success. The band’s lukewarm showing at the Nestlé presser tells us that the perfect collaboration between this band and appropriate brand has yet to materialize.
On another note, is anyone else bored of Han Han? What is it with agencies inability to look beyond what everyone else is doing? HanHan is the Wang LeeHom of bloggers and Carsick Cars might be becoming the Wang LeeHom of indie bands…..