Friday, November 13, 2009

A business-government partnership gone awry - buskers don't want to sing Coke jingles in the London Underground

I live in Ontario, California, which doesn't exactly have the outdoor cafe and entertainment climate that you can find in other cities, such as San Francisco. In other places, you have singers and entertainers on the streets, and the government encourages it.

Some cities have even changed their regulations to encourage such activity. Take London, for example:

The licensed Underground busking scheme was launched in 2003 by London Underground. Before this busking was illegal and completely unregulated. Thanks to London Underground the scheme is now a licensed scheme and is popular with passengers

The quote about the 2003 legalization (whoops, legalisation) of busking was taken from the end of a London Underground Press Release, which also included the following:

From Monday 30 November buskers will be entertaining passengers on new Coca-Cola branded busking pitches across the Tube network.

Around 240 active buskers help brighten passengers' journeys by performing at 21 central Tube stations.

The licensed busking scheme currently includes 33 busking pitches, which are like mini-stages for musicians, however no busker will be required to sing or play on the Tube.

But BusinessWeek noted that the buskers do have one little teeny-tiny requirement to fulfill:

Coke also wants singers to perform its theme tune ‘Holidays Are Coming’ and other Christmas carols as part of the viral ad campaign.

As you can imagine, the buskers embraced this opportunity to sing a Coke jingle with wide open arms...oh, wait, they didn't.

Michael Ball, a 47-year-old jazz guitarist from Tulse Hill who has been busking for 25 years in Tube stations, said: "Not in a million years will I play some Coke jingle. Most buskers make half their annual income in December. Londoners are really up for it and generous at this time and we know what songs and music work. Do commuters really want to hear a corporate jingle from every busker? What a daft idea."

Coca-Cola's response?

"Coca-Cola is sponsoring busking on London Underground this Christmas but we are in too early a stage to confirm the details of the arrangement."

As Bill Cosby would say, "RIIIIIGHT." It's too early to confirm details of the arrangement of something that will happen less than 20 days from now, and for which Coca-Cola has already issued its own press release?
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