Jesus Jones tune massacre

By Megan Jones

Organisers say the ad was to promote ticket sales, not promote the All Blacks. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Organisers say the ad was to promote ticket sales, not promote the All Blacks. Photo / Herald on Sunday

From a relatively cheap-looking ad, the Rugby World Cup has gleaned a phenomenal amount of publicity - and heated, mostly hostile, comment.

World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden claims he has enjoyed his week in the firing line: "There's no such thing as bad publicity".

But clearly his choice - Right Here, Right Now, a 1991 hit for English band Jesus Jones - has struck a sour note with many Kiwis.

Not only is it from the other side of the world, but it was inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago ("Right here, right now/ Watching the world wake up from history"). Rather than being right here, or right now, it was somewhere else, last century.

Songwriter Mike Edwards said: "Any time someone wants something kind of pretty upbeat and happy they try Right Here, Right Now."

He told Radio New Zealand that while this deal has been particularly lucrative, he gets quite a few requests to use the song every month.

It has been thrashed half to death in other advertising campaigns: in the US alone it's been a jingle for Burger King, Chevrolet, Rolex Watches, Argosy Casino, Ralphs Grocery Store, a Yellow Pages advert, several car dealerships and a cholesterol drug.

Kmart has used it. So have American cable channel TechTV, Ford and a Canadian political candidate. It was also the theme for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Clearly, the Cup promoters get no points for fresh thinking. But they have also offended New Zealanders who wanted the first prime-time plug of "their" Rugby World Cup to bring them out in patriotic goosebumps.

The song has been re-recorded by local band The Feelers, but many feel that, if the public is part-funding this event, some money should be diverted back into the local music industry by using a local song.

Former NZ Idol judge and music industry professional Paul Ellis said the choice of song was "lazy" and the job should have been given to a local band.

The well-informed Ellis said the initial contract to use the song for the ad would be worth about $200,000 and the artist would also receive royalties.

Leading the charge against the song is entertainer Gary McCormick who said the choice "reeks of colonialism".

He's lobbying for it to be replaced by Dave Dobbyn's Loyal, which was used for the 2003 America's Cup campaign.

He's been joined by music reviewers, a mob of irate bloggers and politician Jim Anderton who says Right Here, Right Now sounds like "an old beer ad from the 1990s".

Yet, much like the debate over getting rid of the Union Jack from the flag, it is easier to unite in opposition to the colonial imposition than it is to agree on a homegrown alternative.

The Right Here advertisement was made by Wellington-based Clemenger BBDO, whose creative director Paul Nagy also worked on the Australian 2003 Rugby World Cup advertising campaign which used a cover of the Cyndi Lauper track True Colors.

"It didn't turn a hair," he said. "There was not so much as a murmur. It has come as a shock to me that this is so important to people.

"I don't mind polarising people; in advertising, polarising comes with the territory. But I didn't want to make people angry or upset. If that has happened, that's a real regret."

Nagy said he considered so many songs for the advertisement "I felt like a radio DJ" and gave World Cup organisers a short list of 100 - some written by New Zealanders.

He won't say what the other 99 were - it would be "suicide" in the circumstances - but said the choice was made in collaboration with the Cup organisers.

The Feelers were chosen to record it because they wanted to give the song more "oomph", and because they wanted to add a New Zealand flavour to the campaign, he said.

Nagy said they needed to sell 1.65 million tickets representing $270 million and the push was to market it as a "world" event, so Right Here, Right Now was a good choice, he said.

DDB Needham group executive creative director Toby Talbot - whose company was not involved in the advertisement - believes the marketers have "strategically made a very specific decision to not make it a jingoistic or inherently Kiwi piece of music".

He said a campaign to sell tickets to international matches at an international event was "a slightly different message from 'go the boys in black'."

He said the advertisement looked like a Sky TV ad and was probably done on a relatively small budget, but the controversy means it has had a tremendous impact.

Martin Snedden stands by the choice of song, but he is taking on board the feedback and points out he has had plenty of positive feedback as well.

He believes the backlash results from a misconception that the song has been chosen as "anthem".

The official anthem is World in Union which cup organisers point out was first performed at the English Rugby World Cup by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

Snedden said as a result of this week he was now talking about having a song contest to identify some theme songs for the event.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The Best:

* Three Lions - The Lightning Seeds
A perfect mix of humour and fanaticism, it was the official song for the English soccer team in the 1996 European champs. "It's coming home, football's coming home". Simple, chantable and rousing.

* A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley
Remixed by Junkie XL for Nike advertising in the 2002 Football World Cup, it became a No 1 hit in more than 20 countries. A nice touch of humour: "A little less conversation, a little more action".

* Loyal - Dave Dobbyn
The Dobster is a national treasure and he touched our hearts when this song was used to back the 2003 America's Cup campaign. Sadly, it was also the same year we lost the cup to Alinghi. Do we need to be reminded of a sporting failure?

* Nessun Dorma - Pavarotti
The big man belted out the big Puccini aria for the opening of the 1990 Football World Cup in Italy. So huge it's almost comical. It's only a game - isn't it?

The Worst:

* Who Let the Dogs Out? - Baha Men
In a 2007 poll in Rolling Stone magazine, this was ranked the third most annoying song. Despite that, it's become a global sports anthem for everything from ice hockey to basketball and league.

* Join Together - Steve Allen
The 1974 NZ Commonwealth Games anthem has been described as "Woodstock in tracksuits" but in its day it was a beloved ode to peace and the great melting pot. It even got to No 2 on the NZBC's Pop-o-Meter Top 20. South Africa later banned it because of its "unsuitable" words such as freedom, race, creed, peace, war, black and white.

* Together We Are One - Delta Goodrem
Especially written for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. "One chance to touch a star. Find your light and inspiration in a place where dreams are made." You get the idea. Way too earnest.

* The Flame - Tina Arena
The Aussies composed another dirge for the Sydney Olympics. "Is this the hope of the world in my hands? I'll take this moment to be all that I can. We are the Earth. We're together again." It sounds like a track from High School Musical.

* Crazy Frog
We almost dare not speak its name. In 2006 the Crazy Frog contributed two tracks to a UK compilation album entitled Football Crazy released to coincide with the 2006 World Cup. Remember if you dare: Ole Ole Ole (Do the Froggy Wave) and Na Na Na, Hey Hey, later followed by We are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong). Case closed.

Alternatively ...

* We Don't Know How Lucky We Are - Fred Dagg
"If things get appallingly bad, and we're all under constant attack, remember we want to see good clean ball, and for God's sake feed your backs."

* Back in Black - AC/DC
A prophetic anthem for where the trophy will end up in 2011.

* Everybody Hurts - REM
For the ratepayers, taxpayers, ticket-buyers and anyone who holds hope that the All Blacks will win.

- Herald on Sunday

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