Some Thoughts On Pepsi, Bad 25, And Moving On

The Pepsi Special Collectors’ Michael Jackson Commemorative Cans…They’re HEEEEEERE!!!

Sorry I am a bit late on the ball with this topic, but I am only one person here and, as most of you know by now, real life has been very demanding for me as late. But rest assured this topic has been on my brain ever since the announcement was officially made on May 4th that Pepsi would be teaming with the Michael Jackson Estate to bring us…well, one billion commemorative Pepsi cans with Michael’s image, all set to neatly tie in with the 25th anniversary celebration of the Bad album. This marketing ploy is no doubt bringing us some exciting stuff to look forward to, including the product I am most excited about-release of the 1988 Wembley concert! But along with this campaign is coming the usual mixed feelings in the fan community, especially in regard to Pepsi’s involvement-not to mention, a bag of mixed reviews from the media. Most of the mixed feelings can be directly tied to two factors-the appropriateness (or not) of using a dead star’s image to sell a commercial product (even if said star did have a long-standing relationship with that company during life) and, more specifically, the appropriateness of endorsing a Pepsi campaign using Michael’s image when it was, after all, Pepsi who was responsible for his near fatal accident in 1984. And who turned their back on him after the ’93 allegations. Or did they? Well, I’ve read some sources that dispute this, but I will address that particular issue in more depth in just a bit.

Personally, I’m pretty jizzed about the new products. I guess I’m one of those fans whose motto is: The more Michael, the better. I think it’s exciting that his image will be all over my grocery store shelves this summer. In truth, visibility is everything when it comes to keeping an artist relevant and alive for the younger generation. It’s certainly not that Michael needs these things to keep his music and art relevant for those of us, like me, who grew up with him and were there. But for him to remain a viable commodity for the youth market, this visibility is crucial. Current projects such as the Cirque du Soleil show, the recent Glee episode, and this Pepsi campaign are the sort of projects that will help ensure that today’s generation continues to discover and to remember him.

The Bad 25 Summer Celebration, Promising A Wealth of Goodies For Fans

I can’t deny that I feel a surge of pride when I see articles like this:

http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/05/michael-jackson-pepsi-guinness-world-records

But there is another side to this, as well. It’s the same conundrum (call it a moral dilemma, if you will) that many fans feel when new music is released, especially music that has been “doctored up” by Sony. On the one hand, there is the knowing of how Michael felt about Sony in his last years, and the questioning of where do we draw the moral line when it comes to exploitation of Michael for profit. But on the other hand, there is the undeniable pride I feel when I see him sitting at the top of the charts, or-as in the case with The Immortal World tour-outselling even all living artists to have the number one grossing tour in the US!

This Forbes article gives a really good indication of how Michael Jackson is currently outselling all deceased AND living artists combined, and this was even before the Cirque du Soleil show had gotten underway!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2011/06/29/michael-jacksons-400-million-afterlife/

I Prefer To Give Credit Where It's Due-To The Man Who Never Rested On His Laurels...Well, Almost Never (Photo By Jonathan Exley)

Perhaps one reason I can unabashedly take so much pride in such numbers is because I do NOT attribute these numbers solely (as many of these pat-on-the-back articles do) to the business savvy of Branca and McClain, but rather, squarely back to where the REAL credit belongs. These numbers are a direct result of the business savvy, work ethic, and continuing appeal of THE MAN HIMSELF. Okay, I’m not saying they don’t deserve some credit where credit is due. Just saying, though, that without the body of work that Michael built over a forty year career (and that from having worked his li’l skinny butt off from the age of five), and without his own smarts in creating Sony/ATV, and without the legacy that can only be attributed to the hard work and dedication of Michael himself, none of the rest of it would matter. The truth is this, and nothing else: People continue to spend their hard-earned dollars on Michael Jackson’s music and merchandise simply because they still care, and because Michael Jackson still matters to them! Because he made timeless music that, thirty years later, people still WANT to hear! It’s as simple as that. Without that factor, no amount of business savvy in the world on the part of his estate would matter.

But with that knowledge comes the next inevitable step: Michael Jackson as a brand. Well, before we start feeling too guilty, we should keep in mind that Michael himself was the biggest CEO of his own brand and marketing, even down to the night he made the calculated decision to wear a fedora hat and rhinestone glove to perform his Billie Jean routine at Motown 25. I was recently listening to a two hour radio tribute show (originally broadcast in 2009 on 93.7) in which the DJ mentioned how Michael was a genius of creating his own brand:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Aeh_VaEP-4[/tube]

Artists endorsing commercial products was certainly nothing new in 1984 when Michael signed on with Pepsi. In fact, as part of The Jackson 5, Michael had been used to endorsing products as far back as the early 70’s when these Alpha Bit cereal commercials originally ran:

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acQVj5JNY2Q[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l3R5h9BUuE&feature=related[/tube]

What was new in the 80’s was the unprecedented signing of multi-million dollar endorsement deals that pretty much guaranteed that an artist’s name and image would be exclusively and inextricably linked to a product for years on end. This was the dawning of the era of artist corporate sponsorship-and Michael Jackson’s reported $5 million deal with Pepsi was at the forefront of it. But corporate sponsorship would not come without controversy. For many music purists in the 80’s, multi-million dollar deals between music artists and corporate sponsors would become the dividing line between true artists and commercial pop stars. We heard the term “sell out” being brandied about more than ever. For many who were already jealous of Michael Jackson’s mega success-and looking for any excuse to dethrone him- the “sell out” label became all the excuse needed to tie him to the whipping post.

When I recently wrote a rebuttal series to Bill Wyman’s 1991 article “I Want Me Back: The Education of Michael Jackson” (and for which I apologize that Part 3 has been so long in coming) Michael’s Pepsi endorsement became a central piece of that article. In 1991 this was still a hot topic, which was why Wyman spent considerable time on it before moving on to other, even more controversial issues.

http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=6094

As a refresher, here is what he said specifically in regards to the Pepsi sponsorship:

… like many other rock stars today, he has become efficiently, almost ruthlessly adept at making money off his name. Jackson got out of his father’s financial clutches before Thriller: with its proceeds he started investing in music publishing, most notably by purchasing the rights to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Northern Songs. Music publishing generates money hand over fist and can only increase in value. Jackson is fabulously rich and getting richer all the time, yet he has also been a leader in selling his name to the highest bidder. For every Pepsi deal there has been an embarrassing debacle, like Jackson’s short-lived alliance with LA Gear. Taraborrelli’s book doesn’t even bother to mention one of the tackiest merchandising moves ever made by a major star (and boy is that saying something), an ad placed in Women’s Wear Daily, of all places, announcing in screaming headline type that “MICHAEL JACKSON’S NAME IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR LICENSING.” “Put the most powerful name in American entertainment to work for you,” the ad suggested, helpfully providing several product possibilities: from underwear, mugs, lunch buckets, and hosiery to “small electrics” and “domestics” (Michael Jackson maids?). Is there nothing Jackson won’t do for some sort of price? The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to use “Beat It” in a drunk driving commercial? Fine–as long as the president will give me, let’s see, how about a humanitarian award?

Now even if, like me, you think unimaginably rich rock stars shilling for shoe, beer, and soft-drink companies is a pathetic sight, there are a number of extrafinancial benefits and rationalizations to be made that put Jackson’s deals in a better light. For nearly 15 years his financial dealings were in the hands of people who did not have his best interests in mind, with the predictable results. You could argue, theoretically at least, that it is better for the commodity, so to speak, to have control over itself than to be at the service of another entity: in this sense, the Pepsi commercials, models of the form, are as much a commercial for Michael Jackson as they are for Pepsi.

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/i-want-me-back-the-education-of-michael-jackson/Content?oid=879081

Obviously, I have my own bones to pick with Wyman (hence my series rebutting his article) but in this section, I think he does an accurate job of summing up how many AT THE TIME had begun to view Michael Jackson as a corporate sellout. Regardless of whether you agree with Wyman’s assessment or not, this is an invaluable time capsule piece that allows us a glimpse into the mindset of twenty-one years ago and how many at the time perceived Michael Jackson as a ruthless marketer of his own brand. But to Wyman’s credit (if we can allow him this much) he also concedes, despite his overall cynical tone, that the Pepsi endorsement was an undeniably brilliant business move. This is what he means when he says that “…the Pepsi commercials…are as much a commercial for Michael Jackson, as they are for Pepsi.”

Michael's Pepsi Commericals Were Every Bit As Magical And Thrilling As His Videos-A Testament To His Own Creative Input

Absolutely! Back in the mid and late 80’s, as a young, newly married housewife, I often kept MTV playing throughout the day as I did my morning writing and houehold chores. By this time, the novelty of a 24-hr music video channel had worn off. A lot of people, like myself by that point, kept MTV on simply as background noise; a kind of substitute radio. Those commercials were in constant rotation. I could be mopping the kitchen floor, but I knew the minute I heard  the sound of a roaring crowd in the background what was about to ensue. And then would come those first, few notes of Billie Jean (or later, Bad) and Michael’s voice singing, “You’re a whole new generation.” Inevitably, I would feel compelled to stop in the middle of whatever I was doing to watch. If every new Michael Jackson video was a spectacle, so, too, were his Pepsi commercials. You just knew every new commercial that appeared was going to be bigger, bolder, and more dazzling than the one before. And just as with his videos, you never knew what to expect. The storylines were often as creative as his short films; the effects every bit as dazzling, and despite the ever present Pepsi logo and even the blatant insertions of the Pepsi name into the song lyrics, they never really FELT like commercials. They felt like events.

If there was ever an artist who could sell an entire generation on the idea that we somehow belonged to a soda pop brand, it was certainly Michael Jackson!

Nor did it particularly matter to us that Michael himself, who rarely even drank soda (and when he did, ironically enough, preferred Coke) wasn’t a Pepsi drinker. By this time, we were a generation savvy enough to understand the difference between reality and corporate sponsorship. We knew that celebrities didn’t necessarily consume the products they endorsed. Rather, it was all part of clever marketing strategies on the part of artists to sell themselves. Those commercials didn’t necessarily make us run out to buy more Pepsi. But they did keep Michael Jackson as a commodity and as a brand high on our collective radar. And by association, if Michael was cool, then Pepsi must be, too! That, of course, is always the underlying factor of any commercial sponsorship; it’s exactly what the marketing geniuses are hoping for-if you listen to Michael, maybe you’ll think of Pepsi; if you drink Pepsi, you’ll think of Michael. Ultimately, in a hugely succesful advertising campaign as the Pepsi/MJ campaign turned out to be, it becomes a win-win for everyone; hypocrisy be damned

On the Lipstick Alley forum I recently saw a comment from a poster who, like myself, was around in the 80’s when those commercials first aired, and like myself, remembers just how exciting they were! Since I have not asked permission to reprint her quote, I will simply provide the link here and a brief paraphrase. But what she said, in essence, is that a lot of younger people, especially some of those protesting the recent Pepsi campaign as crass exploitation, fail to realize just how inextricably Pepsi and the Bad album were linked throughout the late 80’s. She certainly has a valid point, because the Pepsi campaign was, in fact a massive promotional tool for the Bad album-and one that Michael, as the smart businessman he was, certainly had no qualms about taking full advantage of! So the idea of a Pepsi campaign being used to help promote merchandise for the 25th anniversary of Bad isn’t as if we’re talking strange bedfellows. Rather, we are talking old bedfellows who have been quite cozy and comfortable for a long, long time.

http://www.lipstickalley.com/f227/pepsi-partners-michael-jackson-estate-commemorative-packaging-383024/index5.html

But there is nevertheless a dark side to the partnership, and it is this dark side that taints any excitement over the summer campaign. We know that Michael’s relationship with Pepsi almost cost his life in 1984. Even though he survived that horrific accident, the repercussions of it would forever affect the quality of the rest of his life. And the other troubling question is: Did Pepsi abandon him after the ’93 allegations (despite the fact that no guilt of the crime was ever proven)? If that is the case, then it certainly does cast the long shadow of questionable exploitation and greed over the current campaign.

Michael Recuperating At Brotman Medical Center. The Accident Nearly Cost His Life, And Took Years Of Painful Surgeries And Procedures To Acquire The Seemingly "Quick and Complete" Recovery That The Public Saw

In regard to the accident Michael suffered during the filming of his first Pepsi commercial in 1984, many fail to understand even now just how serious that accident was. Here, for example, is an article by Jeff Myers that appeared in The Barnstable Patriot in 2009. As a piece that details how the Pepsi partnership with Michael Jackson came to be, and also as a piece that details Michael’s own artistic contributions to the commercials, I was very much enjoying this article until I came to the two boldfaced sentences (my emphasis) that stopped me in my tracks and made me almost too disgusted to read any further:

When Michael Jackson Helped Pepsi “Come Alive”

Written by: Jeff Myers

The Pepsi-MJ relationship included two campaigns. The first, in 1984, was part of the new advertising campaign – The Choice of a New Generation.  Pepsi didn’t originally plan to use MJ and his brothers. It started by a visit to our Purchase, NY, headquarters by Don King, the boxing promoter. Few people live up to the phrase “larger than life,” but King did. A huge guy made even bigger by his bizarre hair-do: it stood straight up.  He attributed that to God, although we all felt it had more to do with hair products and a comb.

The meeting was short. On one side of a very large and expensive conference room table was a small contingent of Pepsi execs; on the other, King and his large retinue. It was a real study in contrasts. For all its go-go nature in those days, the Pepsi dress code was dark three-piece suits. King’s group look like something out of a bad Hollywood B-movie – very flashy, lots of gold and bright colors. “I can deliver Michael Jackson and his brothers for $5 million,” said King. “Take it or leave it. I’m going to Atlanta tomorrow.”

“Atlanta” was a clear reference to Pepsi’s arch rival, Coca-Cola.  Our brilliant CEO, Roger Enrico, asked for a chance to sleep on it. “I’ll call you in the morning with our answer,” he replied. At which point everyone stood up and King gave Enrico – a very short man – a huge hug. Roger had a very shocked look on his face. Everyone thought it was because he was surprised to be in the grasp of that bear of a man. Turns out that hug revealed that King was carrying a gun. (This was a man who went to prison after killing a man.) We knew enough about Coke that they would never hire someone as edgy as MJ.  And we were right: Their weak response to this tsunami of popularity was to sign Julio Iglesias. (The press called him Who-lio?)   

MJ was an incredibly astute businessperson. Pepsi’s contract with him ran more than 75 pages – security, food requirements, hair and makeup — a long list of items.  And he knew every one by heart.  Some of the items seemed frivolous to us at the start, but there was ultimately a good reason for each one.  He left no detail unaddressed. If a deal point ever came up where there was disagreement or a difference in interpretation, MJ was able to cite it word for word, by page and paragraph number.

We first met MJ at the family home in Encino, in the San Fernando Valley just north of LA. When the Pepsi group arrived the reception included a tour of the house (main floor) and Michael’s budding backyard zoo, including llamas and giraffes. After that, the family gathered in the main room and awaited MJ’s arrival. And waited. When he finally arrived everyone stood up out of respect, including his siblings and lawyer, but not his father, Joe Jackson. They clearly had a very “different” relationship.

 At that first meeting, we hoped to discuss the details of the storyboards for the commercials we were planning to shoot in a few weeks. We had forwarded them to MJ and the family in advance of the meeting and everything had been approved in writing. MJ’s input was brief and to the point: (1) I don’t like the storyboards; (2) I don’t like the song (3) you can’t show my face.

The ensuing silence was deafening. Joe Jackson finally chimed in reminding MJ that Pepsi was paying them $5 million and he couldn’t hold back on showing his face. Michael’s rationale was that he doesn’t like the way he looks on television. He preferred showing only his glove, shoes and shades. This dealbreaker for Pepsi was finally resolved by including about two seconds of Michael’s face in each of the two commercials we would shoot.

Another issue – the song – was resolved when Michael volunteered to let us use one of his songs. We were concerned it would be some obscure album-filler, or worse. It turned out to be one of the biggest songs he ever produced: “Billie Jean.” We were dumbstruck by his generosity (which would become famous itself), and our incredible luck. He even wrote some of the new lyrics for it that we would use in the spot.

The first commercial was titled “Street.” In this 60-second ad he would bump into a young MJ-wanna-be played by Alphonso Ribiero, then starring on Broadway in the Tap Dance Kid. It turned out MJ’s instincts were right – less was more. The quick cuts of Michael’s face actually heightened viewer interest. That shoot went smoothly, under the direction of the then-hottest director around, Bob Giraldi. The second commercial was different. 

Arguably the most talked about commercial ever, called “Concert,” featured the Jackson 5 on stage in a performance setting. Most of the spot was filmed to an empty theater at the Shrine Auditorium in LA. Under Secret Service-like security, busloads of kids were driven miles to this “undisclosed location.” The final scene to shoot was Michael’s entrance, coming down a set of steps from upstage, pausing for a moment, then moving front and center to join his brothers to sing and dance. Five cameras caught the action. We filmed the scene twice. 

When MJ entered, he paused for a moment, as scripted, under an archway at the top of the steps. He made a signature dance move and then moved down the steps to his microphone. As he did, some fireworks were set off in time to the music. When he entered, the screams from the audience were a palpable shock wave that frankly stunned everyone, including MJ. Everything went perfectly; but one take is never enough. On the second take, Michael simply stayed under the archway too long. Milking the audience, he extended his moves as the fireworks went off when they were supposed to. The rest is history and, arguably, helped propel one of the most popular stars (we tried not to refer to him as “hottest” after that) in the world to even greater heights. 

The fact is, MJ was not seriously burned. It would be like being at the beach all day with too little SPF sunscreen. But he was burned and it was a serious matter. While the ambulances raced to the scene, we started moving the kids to the buses. MJ was attended to by the on-set nurse and then ultimately bundled up on a stretcher for the ride to the hospital. Ever the showman, knowing that there was an army of media outside this now-disclosed location, he would not go out the door until someone found his famous glove. He put it on his hand – which popped out from under the sheets as the flash bulbs started, becoming one of the most famous waves in Hollywood history.

Pepsi settled the lawsuit with MJ by donating $1.5 million to what would become The Michael Jackson Burn Center at the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City.

Several years later Pepsi and MJ (without the brothers – this was post-Thriller and the brothers were now superfluous) teamed again to create the longest and probably most expensive commercial ever created, a 4:00 spot that was serialized in four segments over the course of several months. It was titled “Chase” (available on YouTube, as are the others) and showed MJ in another concert setting with an intercut story arc of him evading a relentless band of reporters and paparazzi using fantasy-based escapes. All quite predictable for a modern-day Peter Pan who refused to grow up.

Michael had total creative control of the spot that took weeks to shoot and months to edit. Always a perfectionist, he insisted on retakes of various scenes.  During that period we were introduced to some of his quirks including his naps in a barium chamber and his new chimp, Bubbles, who everyone got a “chance” to hold. Once again his generosity was evident as he gave Pepsi the use of his song “Bad” for this commercial.

Everyone from music historians to pop psychologists will spend years dissecting Michael’s life. I don’t know if any of the rumors are true. The best way to describe him is to borrow from Winston Churchill: an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery. 

Up in my attic somewhere is the jacket he wore in one of the commercials or photo shoot. This may be a good time to try and find it.

http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18451&Itemid=112

For all his good intentions with this piece, those two sentences alone were enough to shoot Meyers’s credibility to hell. The statement that Michael was not seriously burned is blatantly inaccurate; in fact, Michael received severe second and third degree burns that required YEARS of extensive surgery and painful procedures-in fact, he would have died within minutes had it not been for the quick action of Miko Brando and other security personel who immediatly rushed to his aid to put out the blaze. Not to mention, many of the physical repercussions Michael would endure as a direct result of this accident (from permanent hair loss to painkiller addiction) would have a direct bearing on his physical health and self-esteem. And then, to add further insult to injury, Meyers compares this horrific accident to being nothing more serious than a day at the beach with too little SPF suncreen!

WTF? Even someone with as little admitted medical knowledge as myself knows that third degree burns-sustained from having one’s hair and scalp on fire- isn’t something that is remotely comparable to a day at the beach with too little suncreen! And this was written by someone who was supposedly on the scene when it happened! UN-fricking-believable!

The full video that showed the accident in all its horrific detail was released shortly thereafter. I certainly hope Mr. Meyers had an opportunity to see it, and that maybe it helped to change his mind about just how “serious” this accident was! For that matter, everyone who ever had the bad taste to crack jokes about this accident needs to be made to watch it!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgb-zCnz9mE[/tube]

Of course, in 1984, a lot of us didn’t realize the full severity of the accident. News reports assured us in the aftermath that Michael was “okay.” The severity of the accident was downplayed primarily for two reasons, one being the understandable desire on the part of Michael’s PR team to keep down fan panic; but the other being the somewhat more self-serving reason on the part of Pepsi, who for obvious reasons wanted to minimize the accident as much as possible.

Most of us, hearing the news on radio or TV but being kept blissfully ignorant of the more gory details, simply heaved a collective sigh of relief that Michael was not seriously hurt. Comedians had carte blanche (or so they thought) to crack jokes on late night TV. Fans went on about their business, little knowing just how seriously Michael was suffering at Brotman Medical Center (Later, Michael would use his $1.5 million settlement from Pepsi to establish the Michael Jackson Burn Center For Children at Brotman). The letter Michael received from then president Ronald Reagen attests to just how little we, the public, knew of the severity of the accident. Note the letter’s very first sentence!

So while it might have been forgiveable to downplay the accident’s seriousness in ’84, it is not now. Yet, as we know from history, the accident did not prevent Michael from maintaining a nearly decade-long partnership with Pepsi. In fact, Michael’s glory years with Pepsi, far from being over, were just getting started!

But perhaps the far more sticky issue when it comes to Pepsi is their pulling of the plug on their sponsorship in 1993.

Jennifer Batten, Michael’s lead guitar player for the Bad and Dangerous tours, tweeted this on May 6th in response to the news of the new Pepsi campaign:

Jennifer Batten@mondocongo

So Pepsi sees fit 2 start marketing MJ now-after turning their backs on him? No end 2 the greed! #fb

However, there does seem to be some dispute and conflicting reports as to just how and why the Pepsi and Michael Jackson partnership ended. In August of 1993, Pepsi spokesman Brad Shaw issued an official statement saying that the company had no intention of terminating its relationship with Michael Jackson, despite the controversy.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1914&dat=19930830&id=KF8gAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hmUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1414,6096360

Although some drew their own conclusions, Pepsi officially maintained that their reason for pulling the plug on the Dangerous tour in November of 1993(some three months AFTER the allegations broke) was because the tour itself had abruptly ended.

Gary Hemphill, a spokesman for the company’s soft drink division, minimized the significance of Pepsi ending its relationship with the entertainer. “All we’re saying is that if the tour is over, as we understand from media reports, then that would end our sponsorship agreement because that would mean there’s nothing to sponsor,” he said.

Hemphill said Jackson has not appeared in Pepsi commercials in the United States since 1988. He said Pepsico is “certainly concerned and saddened” about Jackson’s difficulties, but added that no decision has been made on whether Pepsico will enter any new deals with the singer.

http://articles.latimes.com/1993-11-15/news/mn-57233_1_michael-jackson

 

A Time That I Remember Well! In Late '93, As The World Wondered Where Michael Had Disappeared To...Pepsi Pulled The Plug
Apparently, it was never as if Pepsi came right out and officially declared that they had abandoned Michael as a direct result of the allegations. But I think that many understandably read between the lines and felt this was the case. In the absence of any official statement, however, it remains what it is-speculative reasoning (even if, albeit, speculative reasoning that is not without merit). To make an analogy, it’s sort of like when you suspect you’ve been fired from your job because of your race, age, or sex. No one is going to come out and tell you that to your face, of course. But in your heart, you just know. And I think this was what Michael was feeling in late 1993. Pepsi didn’t have to tell him. He just knew.
 
However, there was still one more chapter in the long relationship with Pepsi to be played out in Michael’s lifetime. In 2008, Michael again re-teamed with Pepsi to produce this Superbowl Thriller commercial (to tie in with the upcoming 25th anniversary of Thriller):
 
[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aErNWUdHG_U[/tube]
 
This says two very important things that should be considered before we are too quick to judge this latest campaign: #1: Michael was apparently willing to put aside any bitterness he might have felt with the company after 1993, at least in the name of business, and #2: Pepsi, it seemed, was willing to let bygones be bygones, as well. Certainly, I think this ad should stand as some proof that Pepsi isn’t simply doing some sudden, turnabout face just now, just because Michael is dead and therefore “cool” and “safe” again, as some have been trigger happy to accuse. In 2008, at a time when public sentiment against Michael in the USA was perhaps only just beginning to soften somewhat after the 2005 trial (which, in fact, had only cemeneted for many the idea of his guilt, despite acquittals on all counts) Pepsi was willing to associate itself with Michael for an ad that would be viewed by millions.
 
Perhaps it says something else that may be a small comfort for fans to know. It means that Michael had at least lived long enough to see things start to come full circle again. While it’s true he would not get to experience the full comeback and appreciation in life that he deserved, which would come for him only after death, he did at least get to experience the start of it. As evidenced by the reception of Thriller 25th, the 2008 Superbowl ad, the unprecedented sellout of his London 02 shows, and the American Idol tribute in March of that year, Michael did, at least, go out knowing he had been loved-and as he told us, if you come into this world knowing you are loved and go out knowing the same, everything that happens in between can be dealt with.
 
Since the announcement of the new Pepsi partnership on May 4th, the reaction from the media has been mixed and polarizing, as it always is when it comes to all things Michael Jackson. Not surprisingly, most of the more negative reactions have taken the by-now-oh-so-predictable slant of decrying the campaign as “morbid” and “exploitative” of a dead man. Roger Friedman, of course, leads the way, as he always does when it comes to any chance at jumping on Michael’s perceived “exploitation,” whether that “exploitation” comes from the Jackson family, or the Michael Jackson estate:
 
 
Perez Hilton writes:
 
Isn’t it lovely when companies manipulate dead celebs to sell us things?
 
 
And in a follow-up piece to the Friedman article in Forbes, Julia Brickley writes:
 

It is sort of creepy to rejuvenate something based on the heyday of someone’s career, knowing that the last years of his life were tortuous. But judging from sold-out ‘Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour’ Cirque du Soleil performances, and millions of dollars forever pouring in from Jackson’s catalog worldwide, Pepsi was right to make its peace with the King of Pop.

 
While some of these sentiments may seem noble enough, it’s interesting to note the loaded language these writers inevitably use when writing about anything connected to Michael Jackson, with adjectives like “creepy,” “morbid” and “bizarre” frequently coming into play-not surprisingly, just as they did in Michael’s lifetime. Roger Friedman, for starters, is one who has talked out of so many sides of his mouth when it comes to Michael Jackson that I’ve long ago given up trying to figure which side of the fence he’s on, and Perez Hilton is a world-class douchebag-albeit, one who makes no secret of being a world-class douchebag. Sometimes I have to honestly wonder about the true motivation of all these writers who are so quick to cry foul and “exploitation” every time a new (and especially a new SUCCESSFUL or potentially far-reaching and lucrative) Michael Jackson project is launched. While this same media is so quick to denounce the exploitation of Michael Jackson when it comes to any project launched by his family or by his estate, where was their concern when Michael was being exploited, hounded, and bullied non-stop by the media in life? And where is their concern now, when the bullying, slander, and defamation of him continues non-stop even after his death? Where are these people who seem to be so concerned for his dignity and his rights then?
 
I honestly sometimes have to wonder if the real motivation isn’t something much more sinister. It does sometimes seem that there is a conspiracy and an unspoken fear in the media that any lucratively successful Michael Jackson project just might…oh, I don’t know…serve to keep his legacy in the limelight in a positive way. Would it be preferable if we simply packed Michael’s legacy away in a pine box to gather dust and cobwebs? Would that be the more appropriate way to honor him? If you listen to some, that’s what they seem to be saying. Because, well, anything else is “exploitation.”
 
It’s not that I am unaware of the very real moral dilemma this presents. I get what some of the critics are saying. At what point do we draw a line when it comes to making decisions for dead celebrities? The main reason I had a beef with the estate’s official announcement of this project was due to one particular sentence that, for me personally, was just a bit much to chew:
“…Michael would have loved that we are making the record books with his image on a billion cans around the world.”

 

Um, my response to this was, Whoa, not so fast there, bub! Only Michael would know if he would have loved this deal or not, and he’s not here to speak for it! So let’s not go overboard here and presume to speak for the man. It’s bad enough that he has no say-so in these matters. Maybe he would have loved it; maybe not. The bottom line-and the sad reality-is that we don’t know. He isn’t here to say.
 

But I do agree with one thing Julia Brickley said above, and it is for this one reason that I cannot bring myself to be totally opposed to the idea of one billion Pepsi cans featuring Michael Jackson’s image, emblazoned on grocery store shelves across the globe. She used the interesting phrase of Pepsi “making its peace” with Michael Jackson. This brings up an interesting point. Perhaps, rather than thinking of this as exploitation and hanging onto the bitterness of the past, a better way to look at it might be as a start towards the healing process and the ultimate “rehabilitation” of Michael’s image. I use the term “rehabilitation” lightly (note the quotes) not because I believe it is anything Michael did to deserve the need for rehabilitation of his image, but because we all know what was done to his image -the result of his public lynching. That isn’t going to change overnight. But the paradox is that when we look at the success of ventures like the Cirque du Soleil tour, we know that Michael is still loved-and in a very huge way. And where there is love, there is hope.

 
 
How many times have we said we would love to see a time come when Michael is universally loved again, respected by the press, and his artistry revered as it deserves to be? I think over time, it will happen, but it cannot happen as long as we continue to fight and protest every single time an attempt is made to hold out the olive branch.
 
For now, Pepsi at least seems willing to extend that olive branch, and I am willing to accept it-with whatever trepidations. Now, that being said, I’m no fool. I know the bottom line here is about money-it always is. Pepsi is a business. But so is Michael Jackson-a fact that Michael himself knew better than anyone. His long relationship with Pepsi may have been fraught with many up’s and down’s, but in the end, it was a win-win situation. For both the Pepsi AND Jackson brand.  
 
This olive branch may be a small token, but I think it is a significant one nonetheless. It says that Pepsi is willing to give the Jackson brand another shot, “one more time for all the old times.” Perhaps, if the ultimate goal is to see Michael’s legacy fully restored to the place it rightfully deserves to be, we owe it to him to let go of some of the bitterness of the past, if letting go enables us to move forward.
 
The road to healing and forgiveness has to start somewhere.

34 thoughts on “Some Thoughts On Pepsi, Bad 25, And Moving On”

  1. Great article!!!

    “Perhaps, if the ultimate goal is to see Michael’s legacy fully restored to the place it rightfully deserves to be, we owe it to him to let go of some of the bitterness of the past, if letting go enables us to move forward.”

    Well said, Raven!!

  2. Okay, okay, but why start always from the bussiness? Why always and only when there are mountains of money at stake? I hate to think that those who have always been branded Michael as “the commercial” by definition, continue to see it printed on Pepsi cans. Yes, in the past he has done so much business, but now he is no longer there to say what’s the right way that could renew its glorious past.
    I feel happy and pride in seeing renewed his image, but not in such a way that seems to perpetuate the idea of ​​Michael among many non-artist, but how commercial product and, moreover, in the name of money.

    1. I think my reply to June addresses many of these key issues. The big win for Michael that I see in this is that this campaign-if it is indeed as huge as what it seems to be gearing up to be-is the visibility factor. It is putting his most iconic image and music squarely into the mass consumer public consciousness again.

      But I do see some downsides. For example, it would have been nice if half as much promotional effort would have gone into the Michael album. This is promoting Michael Jackson as nostalgia-which is always an easy sell. It’s a start, but I hope it doesn’t end and begin there. The plus, however, is that it can serve as a reminder to kids that, “Michael Jackson was a great artist and a pop icon that our culture still reveres.” That, to me, is the real selling point of this campaign.

  3. Raven, this is a wonderful post. I had not previously seen the Super Bowl Thriller 2008 commercial (was that Beyonce?). I so agree with you that any bitterness of the past in business ventures must be released in favor of Michael’s continuing legacy. I’m so impressed with the comments of younger fans on YouTube videos, people who had no real idea how super talented Michael was, are just so amazed by his performances and can’t resist saying so. If Michael’s image on Pepsi cans draws new followers and young admirers who thereafter develop interest in Michael the man and his music, IMO that’s a positive. While I don’t like posthumous musical releases (due to no input from the artist), I know I will buy my share of MJ Pepsi cans if and when they come to my area, and I’ll share them (and the man whose image they see) with my younger family and friends.

    1. Exactly. I think the “visibility factor” is the key, and that’s why campaigns like this-at least every few years or so-are crucial. What it does in particular for MJ, insofar as the youth market, is to help disassociate him from the “caricature image” that the media tried to nail into our heads for so long. For many kids, that is the only image they know. But this puts the spotlight squarely back to where it belongs-on the artist. Of course, I recognize there is a bit of irony in this-emphasizing his artistry by putting him on a commercial product! Seems a contradiction in terms (going right back to the “sellout” label of the 80’s) but I don’t think these things really have the stigma in today’s youth market that they had back then. Kids today, who have grown up having been fed on a steady diet of Superbowl ads, big name endorsements, and nostalgic ads featuring some of the biggest music stars of the past,seem to take these things much more in stride than we did. Elton John, for instance, appeared in an ad for Pepsi during this year’s Superbowl.

      Of course there is always going to be the conundrum of the “mass visibility” factor vs. artistic integrity when it comes to marketing and product endorsement. But these days, I think those lines are a lot more blurred than they were in the past.

  4. Wonderful article – I love all the links too. This is so well written, so right and exactly how I feel – this is part of Michael’s legacy – bringing him to a whole new generation and thank God – I would hate for his legacy to die with those of us who grew up with him.
    It’s the same with everything – how many fans actually put themselves out to attend fan events and fundraisers held in Michael’s name – yet sit in judgement of others on a daily basis on social networking sites.
    How many have actually ‘made that change’ and are helping to ‘heal the world’ – but can find time to sit and throw stones ……??
    I am supporting this wholeheartedly – I can’t wait to see MJ on every supermarket shelf – all over the world – as he should be quite rightly.

  5. Hello Raven, I understand what you mean when you talk of new generations who know nothing about Michael and that this great advertising can be useful not to disappear Michael from the picture of reality of youth.

    It is difficult for me to express in English what I feel, because I’m not American and therefore perhaps less accustomed to advertising batage made ​​directly on the public figure.
    I’ll try to explain, in respect of every idea and every opinion.
    It is clear that for us who lived through the years of Michael in the image of the Pepsi is for us easy to trace its signifier. We can easily identify.
    But I did seen the photo of the Pepsi on the Internet at my neighbor’s son, age 13, and he said “Oh, beautiful! Is it the character of a new cartoon?”
    For him Michael on the can is an image that is devoid of massive cultural responsiveness, for he is a beautiful design but empty. I do not know if the Pepsi campaign is limited to cans. Maybe if there was a path most critical facing the music, towards Michael’s album,if they come up with an easy way to attract young people to the music of Michael ….
    I read some time ago on the site (unfortunately all in Italian, http://emozioniemarketing.wordpress.com/ ),some considerations on the advertising campaign for Citroen (http://tv.excite.it/john-lennon-rivive-nella-pubblicita-citroen-V68511.html) in which it appears J. Lennon who is speaking and “advertises” the idea of change across a phrase that, of course, the car has nothing to do.
    The fans were angry, but Sean Lennon said publicly that it had been done to keep alive the memory of his father.

    Well, on website “emotions and marketing” is mentioned a book “Neuromarketing -The nerve of the sale – Sell Old Brain for Instant Success “in which the authors, speaking about the advertising of Citroen, argue that such objective has been NOT achieved for the new generations, in the sense that advertising has impressed and excited people they already knew who he was John Lennon, the Beatles and all those who have been part of that culture.
    And that the only people affected are young people whose parents had given them the key cultural, the children of those for whom the Beatles were part of their lives.

    This is not to say that the image of Michael must not be moved, indeed ….
    I would be regrets if this launch globally could reduced Michael in the eyes of the young people to an image (for otherwise without his consent) simply iconoclast.
    This would be not “remember” it would be rather simplistic stylization for commercial purposes.

    1. Interesting points. Speaking as an American, I think it is because consumerism and marketing is such an ingrained part of our culture. We are bombarded with daily commercials from infancy-“Things go better with Coke,” “You deserve a break today,” “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands, etc.” We grow up thinking it is somehow un-American to dislike Coke or Pepsi, or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. From the time we are little kids watching cartoons, we’re being told what breakfast cereal we should badger our parents into buying; it used to be that during the soaps, housewives were constantly being told which brand of laundry detergent would get their whites “whitest,” while daddy sitting in front of his football game is being told which beer tastes better and which aftershave will give him the closest, smoothest shave (with some hot model all too ready to assist).

      I know that all cultures have advertising, but here, it just seems more prevalent and, I think, is more of an integral part of the culture. We take it for granted-thus, I don’t think there is as much stigma here associated with advertising. Product endorsement is almost de riguer for the course now; people really don’t even blink an eye anymore to see Elton John or Beyonce hawking Pepsi. Like the one poster said on Lipstick Alley, Michael’s Bad album was linked to Pepsi from the time it came out. It was a huge promotional campaign that ultimately benefited both parties. Pepsi, of course, is now hoping to cash in on the nostalgia of that campaign.

      A huge difference between the way kids think and the way adults think is that, whereas we adults can (and do) separate things like iconoclastic images from the art, kids do not-or at least, are not as prone to. Kids are attracted to imagery. Seeing a huge, colorful MJ display in a supermarket chain reminds them-“Hey, this guy was cool.” From there, they are going to be more receptive to looking up his music and adding him to their Ipods.

      An interesting point for me is the kid who looked at the image on the can and asked if it was a new cartoon. While I know that may sound very strange to us, let’s look at it from the kid’s perspective. The question means his interest has been piqued. He thinks the image is cool and “beautiful.” He doesn’t recognize the image on the can, so this means he is forming his own impressions, unhampered by any preconceived notions. He is, in essence, on his own journey of discovery. Kids think cartoons are cool, so if that is his introduction to MJ, maybe that is not necessarily a negative. After all, Michael WAS once a “cartoon”-when he was featured in the Saturday morning Jackson 5 cartoon-and he often said that, as a kid, he couldn’t wait to get up on Saturday mornings and watch himself on TV! He said many times, even as an adult, that he thought being a cartoon was one of the neatest things that ever happened to him. And even as an adult star, he enjoyed presenting himself as an almost “superhero” type of figure-one who could come down from outer space; or shoot into outer space, or perform all manner of superhuman feats (just watch Moonwalker or Captain EO, lol!).

      I guess my point is that, although I understand what you’re saying, I don’t necessarily see it as a negative. I look at the marketing side of it as more a way of keeping his visibility and image “out there”-fresh and competitive with today’s contemporary artists. Of course, his music and artistry is something totally apart from that, but not necessarily mutually exclusive.

      1. Maybe Raven is right, what you say, maybe there is really a side for everything and the interpretations are endless.

        Besides today I thought that towards Michael it have been perpetrated very different kind of public insult, unfortunately.
        As always I thank you for your work and your dedication.

  6. Visibility is the key, indeed, still the majority of the one million cans will end up in recycle bins if not in trash as soon as they are empty … without lasting impression. I don’t think Pepsi gave any serious thought about the effectiveness or wanted to commit serious money in the current campaign.

    I truly believe that the TV commercial from the 80s will impress those who don’t know Michael or don’t know him as a great artist, it can be re-broadcasted on TV, and be made for the web and for the mobile, etc., etc., now that the youth spend so much time in the virtual world where visibility must be archived to make him known in his own expression and manifestation of his art.

    1. That’s a thought. Wonder if there are any plans to re-release the commercials? I know they are available on Youtube, but I mean, as in putting them back into mainstream rotation. That would be mega cool! But I have not heard anything to that effect.

      1. I doubt those who are not already MJ fans would look for his TV commercials on YouTube. Of course mainstream rotation in both the old and new media would be mega cool! So far it’s only our dream …

  7. Raven thank you for this excellent article. I also love your rebuttal of Wymans article. He is evidently taking jabs at Michael but he does have a point. I agree with some of what you state but see some things differently.
    Ofcourse MJs estates tries to generate as much income as possible before the interest in MJ slows down. Bad 25yrs with the pepsi connection is a perfect opportunity, mostly for pepsi , because Michaels would sell anyway, with or without pepsi.
    I agree that as savvy as the executors are, it’s primarily Michaels work, executors are replaceable, Michael is not.
    Fans will be critical, and rightfully so, considering how the Michael album was handled. Cascio, Sony AND the executors still have to answer many questions about the 1st( probably only) Posthumous album and the 1st album in10 years with Michaels name on it.
    But I’m looking forward to Bad 25, the album, Wembly footage and Spike Lees documentary. (Btw, SLs B-day Bash for Michael is also sponsored by Pepsi )
    There are as many pros as there are cons to merchandise like the pepsi cans, and all are arbitrary. Artistic integrity and commercial success are not mutually exclusive if handled with care .
    As consumers we have the right to ask quality products and corporate responsibility.
    I agree with Nicoletta that commercial success and the fact that a company like Pepsi wants to team up with Michael does not necessarily restore Michaels good name, appreciation from fellow artists or respect from the press. The opposite could be true. And how far will you go for visibility (Friedman and Perez Hilton I do not consider journalists. they are the last ones to talk about MJ exploitation)
    Even if Bad was connected to pepsi, that was 80s marketing. Later on Michael took a stance on social and environmental issues .
    His very last words on film were all about the environment, that its up to us and that we only have 4 years to fix natures problems to save the planet. Why ‘honor‘ him with millions of cans, made for one time use and produce more waste in his name. Much of it will end up somewhere in the environment – people are careless with waste. Imagine a used can with Michaels image on it lying in water on the sidewalk or on a playground.
    There are many creative and innovative ideas that could benefit pepsi and the estate AND help promote Michaels music, philosophy or support his charity. This would give alot of exposure and is much more honorable,instead of rehashing last century marketing tactics. And why promote a drink in Michaels name that is a sugar bomb, in countries where obesities is epidemic.
    Of course one could argue that we don’t have to buy it . Then what’s the whole point of discussing it anyway.
    I don’t see it as throwing stones. I prefer a mature discussion to pettiness and platitudes . Michael is not one dimensional .
    The majority who will actually buy the merchandise are people who couldn’t care less about the man or his humanitarian work. They are the target group for pepsi and the estate because they have the means and don’t question anything.
    I hope the executors will give priority to Michaels artistic work and not attach his name to tacky merchandise like what happened to Elvis.
    But they could learn from Elvis’ A little less conversation how a remix of a classic song can itself become a classic if handled with respect. And better even, a commercial success that gave Elvis music a massive introduction to a new generation that no merchandise could.

    1. As for the cans, I really doubt most of them will end up in the trash as most people who purchase them will be buying them as collectors’ items-that is, with the intent of keeping them. But a possible downside is the REASON why. Most fans will purchase them, of course, simply to keep them. But there are many so-called collectors out there who will purchase items like this in bulk quantity for no purpose except their expected monetary value (these were a lot of the same people who swiped up all the MJ merchandise that was for sale after Michael died. Had nothing to do with any actual love or respect for Michael; it was only all about “how much will this stuff be worth?”). I’ve already heard discussions from fans who can’t even find the cans at some local stores because one person will come in and buy them all. That sort of thing discourages merchants from even putting the displays out.

      It’s true that we don’t know if Michael in his more mature and more socially conscious phase (although really he had always been socially conscious) would have ever endorsed a campaign like this. I think the 2008 commercial is a good indication that he was at least willing to work with Pepsi again. But it’s one thing to co-produce a commercial and allow the use of a song; quite another when we’re talking one billion aluminum cans with your image on them. I would never presume to speak for how Michael might have felt about that-the executors said he would have loved it, but how do we really know that? Of course they want to justify their deal! I know Michael loved being in the Guinness Book of World Records, but he loved it when he was in there for his artistic and humanitarian contributions. I’m being very honest when I say that my own excitement over the campaign is simply a fan’s excitement of seeing his image all over grocery store shelves. But I feel the same way whenever I see a song or album of his at the top of the charts. I feel the same way when I read about Immortal being the number one grossing tour in America. I think it’s just natural for fans to feel excitement and pride in those things-provided, of course, they are handled correctly.

      The Michael album was handled very shoddily IMO. It didn’t seem there was much effort put into really getting it out there. Hold My Hand, at the very least, should have been a much bigger hit. There was practically no radio play for the track. Most people outside the hardcore fan community weren’t even aware there was a new MJ album.

      1. I agree with you, Raven, the 2008 commercial is indication that MJ was willing to work with Pepsi (that is, to use his music if not his image for promoting Pepsi products – what else would Pepsi work with him for?), and he had always been socially conscious.

        After all, the campaign is about selling Pepsi products not Michael’s music, I feel more worried than excited about the cans for several reasons, one of them is also caused by those profit seeking individuals who snatch MJ merchandises.

  8. Interesting and informative statement from the Jackson Estate re Bad DVD release (originally posted by MJJJusticeProject). It provides some answers as to what happened to the film of the Bad concert at Wembley and why Michael’s personal VHS copy, which is of poor quality, is the only copy available. I included an excerpt.:

    Bad 25 DVD: The Estate Release a Statement
    MJNA Staff June 1, 2012

    “Unfortunately, record-keeping in the storage facilities was sporadic, at best, so we do not know what happened to a tape once it was sent for storage. In most cases, once a tape was pulled from the box it arrived in, it was not put back in the original box and where it wound up doesn’t always make sense. As a result, 25 years later not all of the Umatic tapes from the various shows can be located, notwithstanding that we have conducted an extensive survey of all of the storage facilities. So while we believe that the Umatic tape for Wembley was initially sent for storage, we have not been able to locate it. And with regard to the Umatic footage of other concerts, the audio is extremely problematic and therefore these concerts are unusable.”

    Source:
    http://www.mjjunderground.com/2012/06/01/bad-25-dvd-the-estate-release-a-statement/

    1. That might be the reason or one of the major reasons why Bad Tour DVD had not been released before Michael’s passing. Michael would not be willing to release the concert footage from his personal VHS.

      When TTI was released, there has been criticism about making the DVD using Michael’s personal recording that was made for the sole purpose of documentation, not for presentation.

  9. I LOVE this idea of MJ cans! Aha! I don’t drink coke or pepsi but I will NOW 🙂 Raven, I feel these cans will do well in the rest of the world esp. the east…how will they do in ur opinion in U.S.? I always read nasty comments by Americans on any MJ news :-/

    And I donno whats people’s problem with someone making money with ventures that are doing Michael’s image good? Americans in the past made careers and TRP’s by brining MJ down…let somebody make billions by holding him up…whats the problem?

    1. In the US, it depends on where you live. If you live in a small, conservative town (like I do) it can be hit or miss. Some Wal-Marts will display/carry the cans; others won’t, just out of some arbitrary belief that Michael was a child molestor and customers will object. But other locations will. It just depends. I’ve been reading on some forums where fans have looked for the cans at their local Wal-Marts and have not been able to find them. I think there is always the feeling in the backs of our minds that there are people simply biased against Michael for the wrong reasons. If we go in our local Wal-Mart and don’t see the cans, a lot of us have that kneejerk reaction and start to think the worst (even though it may or may not be true in every case). It’s the same with a lot of things around here. For example, when an MJ impersonator is trying to get a gig, he/she may have trouble finding a venue for that reason, even if it’s for charity (let’s just say, if the local owner is anti-MJ) but then they might get booked at another venue just a few blocks down and have a packed house.

      I remember when This Is It came out, one local theatre had planned to have an MJ dance and lookalike contest, sponsored by a local radio station. At the last minute, they cancelled everything, and the film premiered with little fanfare whatsoever. I always suspected that some complaints from local conservative groups might have had some bearing on that “sudden” decision.

      Michael is still a very polarizing figure in the US. He is very loved here, but also, there are still many who have very strong feelings against him. In places like China and Japan and other eastern countries, for example, it seems he is more universally embraced-without the controversy or the polarizing element. I wish it could be that way here, but I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.

  10. Just in case, I meant no offence by mentioning “AMericans” in my previous post…I do realise that Michael’s best fans are Americans who stood by him in his worst and when doing so was brining ridicule to themselves.

    but I happen to read these American news sites and their comments are always garbage.

  11. Despite recent Estate statement, I wish this video could be released!!!
    Enjoy before it’s removed!

    Bad World Tour – Japan, Yokohama [Full Concert HQ] 1987- Michael Jackson (1 hr 36 min)

    Source:

    1. The DVD of the Yokohama concert on the market is a mystery to me …

      I also wish this video could be officially released! I don’t understand the Estate’s decision, fans love this concert, too.

      The Yokohama concert may not have many Bad numbers, but it is still one in Michael’s first solo tour, not to mention Victory Tour DVD is not available.

      1. There is no point in releasing yokohama if its free on you tube, in a quality that is good enough for the average viewers who are not video/audio fanatics.
        I wonder who gains from putting Michaels FULL concertfootage on youtube. Seems like a deliberate attempt to devaluate it and make it unfit for release.

        1. I suppose there still is some point in releasing an official version of the Yokohama concert for MJ fanatics? But that’s apparently not on the Estate’s mind.

          The Yokohama concert footage has been on and off on Youtube for obvious reasons. I certainly can’t count on its permanent access, or include it to my collection …

          The DVD that has been on the market http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Jackson-Live-Japan/dp/B002AOWXOK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338845055&sr=8-1 is a disgrace, shamful that nothing has been done about it.

          1. I LOL’D at this review!

            “…I don’t know who thought this was good enough to put out on the market but who ever it is needs to be shot. Twice!”

    1. It is alarming to think how much master material has probably been lost through the years. It’s the same situation the movie industry is facing, with the need for preservation becoming more dire every year. The industry jumped the gun too late on preservation efforts, and many classic films are in danger of being permanently lost. It’s truly a reality check, however, when you consider how many millions of recordings have been made since the recording industry began. There is only a finite amount of space for everything. It’s sort of like when you walk into the house of a hoarder. Most peoples’ immediate reaction is, “Everything needs to be thrown out!” But the hoarder will say, “No, some of this stuff has value.” Only problem is: No one but the hoarder has that kind of patience!

      Judging from the article, it seems this has been the mindset of the industry for years: If it looks like junk, scrap it! There is no accounting for how much has probably been lost.

    1. Sandy, were you trying to post a link? Sometimes-not often, but occasionally-it will red flag some links as spam. Sometimes even certain words might trigger the flag. I cannot control that. In fact, I have not even seen any comment from you aside from this one, so that means it wasn’t even held in que. The only alternative, of course, is to disable the filter altogether though for obvious reasons that wouldn’t be a good idea-the blog would be flooded with spam posts within minutes, lol.

      I’m sorry that happened. Maybe try again?

      ETA: Yes, I went into the spam folder and voile’! It was the link, just as I suspected (there were two, so not sure which one caused it to be flagged). I really need to make a point of checking the spam folder every day because, although it doesn’t happen often that legit comments accidentally get sorted there, it has happened on occasion.

  12. It truly is staggering what the losses industry wide potentially are and it’s easy to see how it would be hard to keep pace with a growing inventory of material to be preserved. What’s even more staggering though is the idea that something on the scale of these hugely successful and historic concerts from the Bad era are only available in so so to poor quality bootlegs or just plain non-existant! Besides, we’re not talking old episodes of Hogan’s Hero’s here. In fact, those are easier to get a hold of than a decent copy of one of the biggest concerts on the planet! What’s wrong with this picture?? I have such a hard time getting my head around how something so massive gets “lost” in the first place??? Clearly the Estate doesn’t know the answer to that either and we can only hope that the Umatic films do still exist and are just temporarily hidden from our view. Talk about buried treasure!! I just hope it doesn’t take another 20 years for this buried treasure to finally see the light of day!! That said it will be VERY interesting to see the quality of the “restored” VHS video that will be released this fall.

    In fact, AndJustice4Some did a nice job on her blog of researching the company that is supposed to be restoring Michael’s personal VHS tape of the BAD tour at Wembley (7/16/88). The company “is Reliance Media Works, formerly Lowry Digital.” She sites a very interesting New York Times article that explains the restoration process in some detail.

    New York Times source:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/18/movies/film-600-macs-4000-lines-one-giant-leap-for-dvd-s.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

    AndJustice4Some source:
    http://mjandjustice4some.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

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