The band is back together
Well my lola, she told me, well she told me not to smoke
Well my lolo, he told me, well he told me not to smoke... dope
So I, I promised to myself, I will never never smoke... Hope
-- Eraserheads, "Honky Toinks Granny"
Just got word that the Eraserheads concert is pushing through after reports that it was going to be cancelled, after the cigarette company that was organizing/sponsoring the reunion backed out (apparently because of legal issues). I had refrained from writing about the issue prior to this because there was nothing confirmed, and the whole charade really annoyed me. Anyway, I had been hoping for this scenario to happen for the longest time. Some thoughts:#1 - It was illegal
You can probably find a better summary for this if you went Googling around the internets, but basically, there's a law that went into effect last July prohibiting tobacco companies from becoming sponsors for things like, you know, Eraserheads reunion concerts. So anyway, there was a release from the tobacco company that this wasn't technically sponsorship, since the firm was organizing the event itself, and that it was an invitation-only private event that wasn't open to the general public. Of course, this private event just happened to include about 35,000 people and the organizers just happened to leak the details to Ricky Lo, who's only the influential Entertainment Editor of the Philippine Star. Way to keep the event private.
(Totally random Ricky Lo story: a few months ago, when I was still a productive member of society, I was having a late dinnner alone at World Topps in Timog, and the place was empty. A few minutes later, a noisy group of about ten people walked in, and I recognized the entertainment editor as the leader of the bunch. The group included a bunch of middle-aged gay guys and young boys in their late teens/early twenties. Who knew Ricky Lo walked around with such a huge posse? It cracked me up, but I just ate my dinner quietly and didn't make eye contact. I didn't want to be the guy who got beat up by Ricky Lo's entourage. But I digress.)
Anyway, my point is, it was a brazen move for the tobacco company, and I, for one, just don't appreciate being lied to. I already do that for myself, all the time, thank you very much.#2 - It was dumb
Can you imagine how this thing went down inside the marketing department of the big tobacco company?
Marketing Head: "Ok guys, we need new ideas for promoting our little candies of death now that we can't do any advertising anymore. I need ideas people! [Name of marketing guy #1]! Give me something?"
Marketing Guy #1 (still hungover from the previous night's drinking session, just throwing shit out to get his boss off his back): "Uhm, how about... an Eraserheads reunion concert?"
Marketing Head: "The Eraserheads?"
Marketing Guy #2: "Well, it's gonna create a really big buzz. They're, like, the Beatles of the Philippines."
Marketing Head: "Wow, The Beatles. I love the Beatles. I always thought Paul was cute."
Marketing Guy #1: "We can make everyone register for the concert. Grow our list of smokers."
Marketing Guy #2: "Plus, the media and the blogs will be all over this. We can do some viral marketing to promote the event."
Marketing Head: "Blogs. I like blogs. Guy, let's make this happen."
Marketing Guy #2: "Just a slight problem. The guys really hate each other. Well, Ely and Raymund"
Marketing Head: "I don't care guys. Make it so."
The members of the band were reportedly getting eight-figures for the gig. Each. Everyone assumes it's Php10 million, but I've heard rumors (from people who are close to people who are close to the band) that the figure was closer to Php20 million. Either way, it's enough money to salve old wounds for the band members.
Is it worth it? For this discussion, let's peg the total cost for the tobacco company at Php50 million. They're paying for two things, basically: the buzz from blogs and other non-traditional media (and some traditional media as well), and the growth of their smokers' list. Let's say they split it halfway for each, Php25 million for the buzz and Php25 million for the list.
Is Php25 million worth it for the blogger and the Ricky Lo buzz? Abe Olandres thinks so
, but then, Abe gets excited whenever a big company starts doing Internet campaigns.
I can't go into much detail about the figures, but I used to work for one of the biggest online publishing firms in the country, so you just have to take my word for it. Php25 million is right near the sales target for one quarter for a big news publishing site. Now, go look at your favorite Filipino Internet news/showbiz site. Count the number of paying ads (you can disregard house ads). Your Php25 million could buy you placement for all those ads. Everyday. For three straight months.
Now what about the list? Say, they're looking at 35,000 people attending the concert, but they're probably more optimistic about the list growing much bigger. The only problem was, they made it so hard to register that it's going to be impossible for them to get to the figure. Again, you're going to have to take my word for it here, but I've had experience maintaining a registration system that required the user to jump through hoops to register. It was ugly. 35,000 just wasn't going to happen. I bet the smokers list would be lucky to get 10,000 people had they gone through with the concert idea.
Php25 million for 10,000 people would make cost them Php25,000 per person. For that amount of money, they might as well just ask their promo girls to give handjobs to male listers during bar tours. It'd be much more memorable, and it'd be just as illegal as an Eraserheads concert.
They'll probably spin this as a problem with the government, but the truth is, it just doesn't make economic sense for the tobacco company to do this.#3 - It was a lightning rod for douchebags
Journalist (and Manila correspondent to the New York Times) Caloy Conde, bless his heart, has been all over the Internet advocating the evils of big tobacco and railing against the concert. The only problem was, he was being a total douchebag about it
Now that the government itself has warned Philip Morris International for possible violation of the law for being behind the Eraserheads reunion concert on Aug. 30, I am tempted to gloat and tell those who crucified me and mocked me (in the comment section here and elsewhere and in various blogs and in the Eraserhead mailing list) to go f**k themselves.
Awesome. You stay classy, Caloy.#4 - It was annoying
Now, my problem about the tobacco-sponsored concert wasn't a moral one; after all, you're probably going to die anyway. I do agree that yes, the government needs a better job to curb underage smoking in this country, and yes, I believe that smoking causes cancer.
But you wanna know why countries in the European Union and in Japan have taken radical steps to ban cigarettes? It's plain economics. More smoking leads to more cancer, which leads to higher medical bills. For countries with socialized, comprehensive healthcare plans, this amounts to billions of dollars of additional healthcare expenses for the government. Those countries have
to prevent their kids from smoking because it's gonna hit them in the pocket.
Here in the Philippines, where socialized healthcare is a joke, it's not going to cost the government a centavo if you get cancer twenty years from now, so there's really not much incentive for them to stop you from smoking now (or from making lots of babies, for that matter). So the question is, why don't we have socialized healthcare?
But that's beside the point. The real problem with the tobacco-sponsored reunion was that it was really, really hard to get tickets that way
. Everyone I knew would just rather pay for the goddamn things. Everyone who grew up during the E-heads heydey are pretty much yuppies now. We blow our money watching crappy bands like Lifehouse and Panic at the Disco. So why not the Eraserheads then? We can afford it, really.
But it all worked out for the best. In the Sandwich mailing list, Raymund Marasigan confirmed that the concert is pushing through, and it seems like all the members are in good terms. Perfect! See you all next week.
UPDATE: PEP reports that tickets are going to go at Php1,500 a pop
Labels: eraserheads, music