Market Share: Using Food To Market Tunes
Photo: Charisse Kenion / Unsplash.com
They say that love is in the air, but the way to the heart is through the stomach—and bands like The Rolling Stones and The Killers are not only producing music that listeners love to hear, but they’re also offering them sweet and spicy treats they’ll love to eat, too.
Last year—and, yes, amid a global pandemic—The Rolling Stones released its first single in four years, appropriately named Living In A Ghost Town, and opened their first brick-and-mortar store in London. The store, RS No. 9 Carnaby, sells band merchandise featuring the iconic tongue-and-lip logo, and range from outerwear, t-shirts and robes, to accessories such as hats, belts, posters, towels, stickers, bandanas and face masks, along with collector’s items. In late January, the store, which is decorated in black and a shade of red coined “Stones Red” by Pantone, added a new item to its racks: branded chocolate bars. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the chocolate bars are named after song lyrics, including Brown Sugar, a milk chocolate bar inspired by the 1971 hit song Brown Sugar, and is fittingly made with brown sugar, and Cherry Red, a dark chocolate, cherry-filled chocolate bar inspired by the lyric “my favorite flavor, cherry red,” from the 1969 single, You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Each chocolate bar costs a little over $8 USD, plus shipping and handling.
The Rolling Stones’ sweet move comes a few months after The Killers also broke into the branded food space, offering a line of handmade hot sauce. The Killers, which formed nearly four decades after The Rolling Stones, launched their own line of handmade, small-batch Killers Hot Sauce named after their music. Available in four flavors—Hot Fuss, named after their 2004 debut studio album; and Fire in Bone, Caution and Blowback, all named after songs released in 2020—only 2,500 of the four-pack bundles were made and retailed for $59.50.
Breaking into the food space isn’t a new feat for musicians and bands alike, especially for those creating limited-edition products. It not only provides a way for bands to reach a unique customer base, but it also makes a hot sauce or chocolate bar branded with a loved one’s favorite musicians a thoughtful and easy gift, and one that keeps the band center of attention. Even the more unusual band-branded food products produced over the years make for great collectibles and never-ending conversation-starters—there’s KISS’s slew of unusual products, including its KISS Krunch Cereal, KISS Destroyer Beer and KISS Hotter Than Hell ketchup, and Smokey Robinson’s line of microwavable gumbo meals introduced to promote his 2004 gospel album, Food for the Spirit. Even after many years, some fans can still recall these specific promotions—and that’s certainly a success in itself.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.