The Unholy Alliance Between Heavy Metal and Cheap Marketing Merchandise

Once upon a time record companies were flush with money and power. They had huge marketing departments with bloated budgets. All of the tchochke dealers in the land sent catalogues hoping to sell thousands of pens, calculators, umbrellas, stress balls and other cheap coroporate merchandise. It couldn’t happen today, but once — not that long ago — this resulted in a Tchotchke Apocalypse.

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Petty Acts of Revenge logo

Band: Petty Acts of Revenge

While your own idea of what would constitute a petty act of revenge might differ, the band seemed pretty fixated on low-level nuisance fires. Aine, the marketing intern at the time, took this to heart and ordered branded matchboxes.

Result

Áine learned a valuable lesson in not letting the band make the final decision on marketing strategies. The record company never released these boxes into the wild, afraid of accusations of encouraging criminal behaviour. Áine has a lot of spare matchboxes if you have a fireplace, campfire or hobo barrel that needs lighting.

Arterial Spray logo

Band: Arterial Spray

Arterial Spray was a natural logo choice for hand towels. For all your blood-sopping needs. Far from being a flop, these towels always sell out at the merch booth during shows. They often end up later, however, clogging the club toilets.

Result

Good publicity for the band but a lot of plumbing expenses subtracted from their appearance fee.

Copse of Corpses logo

Band: Copse of Corpses

Where would you find a Copse of Corpses? Copses are found in the woods (though hopefully not corpses) so CoC’s marketing team decided to brand something practical that you would take camping or on a picnic.

Result

Now you can stay hydrated with your CoC water bottle while you’re waiting for the sheriff to arrive at the trailhead. These were a hit and another batch will be ordered as soon as the band get their act together and record a second album.

Chum Bucket logo

Band: Chum Bucket

Rarely have we said no to a band’s merch request, but for Chum Bucket we had to put the foot down due to health and safety regulations. And also our deep fear of sharks. Since the “chum” part of the band name was out, we decided to focus on “bucket”. Turns out actual buckets are too expensive, even in bulk. But we found a good deal on bucket hats.

Result

You know who likes bucket hats? Fans of the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and other “Madchester” scenesters of the mid-90s. It turns out that Madchester and metal fans don’t have a lot of crossover. Least of all their fashion choices. Still, we’ve found that while bucket hats haven’t made a comeback, they have made handy tortilla containers at our office parties.

Bendybus logo

Band: Bendybus

Jesse in PR was obsessed with the Adam and Joe radio show for a while, especially their “Song Wars” segment. When he heard the song “Tiny Mobile Speakers” about playing music too loud on the bus on crappy audio equipment, he had the brainwave that he could improve the situation and sent off for some tiny branded speakers for the band Bendybus. Ironically, it was while riding home on an actual bendy bus that he had this rather tenuous idea.

Result

Jesse didn’t really think about the real reason nobody likes hearing other people’s audio on the bus. It generally isn’t because of the speakers. And let’s face it - bendy buses just aren’t very metal, are they? I mean, true, they are made of metal. And yet there is something distinctly lacking in the atmosphere. The only thing they share in common with heavy metal concerts is the random puddles of sick on the floor. However it is fun hiding these tiny speakers behind things in the office canteen and playing Squarepusher suddenly to unsuspecting employees. What's it has cost in spilt coffee is worth the amusement we get from the low-level cruelty (If Jesse wanted to work with nice people maybe he shouldn't have gone into PR).

Hooks For Hands logo

Band: Hooks For Hands

When prog metal group Hooks for Hands asked for something “actually music-related” to promote their brand, we gave Jesse in PR a chance to redeem himself. Guitar picks are easy to give out at shows and very cheap if you buy in bulk.

Result

It’s not Jesse’s fault that there are actual people with hooks for hands (who knew?) and that those people thought the band was ridiculing their disability. We’re not sure why anyone would buy hooks when perfectly acceptable artificial hands of many different materials already exist, but then the pirate chic trend took us all by surprise. Luckily the online flame war and the threats of litigation died down and gave Hooks For Hands a lot of exposure. Win!

Gruesome Discovery logo

Band: Gruesome Discovery

The appropriately named death metal band Gruesome Discovery discovered that their record company had printed their logo onto lunch bags. Unfortunately the band's name on a lunch bag seemed more like a wry comment on the user's lunch preparation abilities than an advertisement for headbanging.

Result

Peter from marketing has an entire closet full of these things but few takers. They were used in a few memorable office pranks. A few people did eventually use them as lunch bags. There was the inevitable one left too long in the back of the fridge - the logo then bcame a literal description of the bag's contents.

Underpass logo

Band: Underpass

Unfortunately the marketing department for Underpass' record company thought that car accessories would be the most appropriate merchandise for the band. Rather than gaining them new music fans, however, this only made car owners think Underpass was a car accessory manufacturer.

Result

Lots of fresh-smelling cars. Elena in Marketing still can't get the smell out of her car. Although it's a pleasant smell she doesn't want to keep reliving the idea that got her fired.

Lucifurr logo

Band: Lucifürr

The Lucifürr pooper-scoop bags turned out to be more popular than the record company thought they would be. There are no baggies to be had in the record company office or warehouse.

Result

While the bags are popular, critics have wondered if it’s good branding practice to associate your band name with dog crap.

4cepts logo

Band: 4cepts

When we mentioned the sludge metal band 4cepts in the canteen, we found people associated forceps with babies. But it turns out no one wanted a baby onesie with the word "forceps" on it, much less one with the band logo. Why relive a very (literally) painful memory?

Result

The band thought the concept was hilarious but they soon discovered that metal fans have children, they love their children and that no one who's had children likes forceps. In fact, soon after we took this picture of a cute baby modeling the onesie, his mother took a closer look at the onesie and ended up cancelling the photo shoot. Luckily the local dog shelter wasn't so picky and there are now warmer, cozier dogs there. The small ones, anyway.

 logo

Band: Squalord

Thrash band Squalord’s name is a combination of Squalor and Lord, maybe even landlord. What do you need when you move into a squalid flat? Cleaning supplies. What is closest to godliness (the Lord)? Cleanliness. Seemed to make sense at the time.

Result

Cleaning up just doesn’t seem very metal. After ordering one box of samples, Marketing decided to nix the idea. Although their desks and cubicles sure sparkle these days.

Balzac's Ballsack logo

Band: Balzac's Ballsack

The record company had black metal band Balzac's Ballsack's logo emblazoned onto hackeysacks. The similarity between a hackysack and a ballsack was meant to be humourous, but the record company found they made fans uneasy.

Result

1000 free hackysacks delivered to local schools where they were immediately banned because of the word "ballsack".

About

This site is the unholy brainchild of Melissa Stolberg. It was inspired by the book “Rock On” by Dan Kennedy. If you enjoyed this let me know.

Truthfully, I am more into grunge and industrial than metal. Although I do enjoy metal (I would enjoy it more if Children of Bodom would get rid of the keyboards). Heavy metal does have all the best band names and logos. Whatever your musical taste, I think we can all agree that teeny-bop pop bands need to be taken out back and beaten with a pointy guitar and a Metal Master pedal until they see the light dark.

Disclaimer

All of the band names on this site are fictitious as far as I know. If I have used your band’s name inadvertendly let me know. If you want one of these as your own band name I will be delighted as long as I can design your logo! I’ll also come up with wildly inappropriate tchochkes to match.

I have used some photography in my tschoke mockups from uploaders krappweis, Gytizzz, and saddis at freeimages.com and a thermos mockup from psdcovers.com.

My Other Sites

I have other sites and you have time to waste. Don’t tell me you’d rather work on that spreadsheet. Turn up the metal tunes and visit:

What's Under the Bed?
A monster-detecting app
Cat Neighbourhood
Feline living without the human hassle
My Design Portfolio
An out-of-date sampler of my past graphic design work