There’s a big yearly music and arts festival that takes place local to me, the Latitude Festival, and I’ve just spent a weekend there. It was three days drenched with music, poetry, literature and dance, and naturally, being that it’s England and camping is involved, Rain. Yet amidst all this culture, I still managed to find a car-shaped escape. One of the headline acts on Sunday night was Spectacular Sultry Scandinavian Songstress Lykke Li, who just happens to be the celebrity chosen to spearhead the launch campaign for the new Peugeot 108. So what effect did that have on my festival experience? I was prepared for a disaster. When corporations muscle in on cultural events things can often take on a rather unpleasantly moneygrabbing, capitalist persona. How many times do you want to be reminded that whatever wonderful experience you’re exposing yourself to is SPONSORED BY GEICO? Do you want intermissions in your ballet so that Infiniti can remind you of their existence? Certainly not. It’s a buzzkill when The Man gets involved in your arts experience. Well, I needn’t have been too worried. Peugeot had a relatively prominent advertisement in the official festival programme, mentioning the Lykke Li association, but there weren’t the banners and hoardings everywhere that I was afraid of. They had a physical presence, too. My108Studio was a breast-shaped installation in The Village just outside the main arena. Festivalgoers were invited to visit, and were promised the attentions of Stylists within. Accesorization and preening would follow, before photography and images of the glamorous new you being uploaded onto some Peugeot website somewhere, resulting in a hailstorm of tweets heralding everybody’s My108Studio Experience. Quite what such an experience might have been like I couldn’t really tell you. I never ventured inside, believing myself to be way beyond salvation by even the most expert of fashion advisors. I have never felt the compulsion to have my nails did; being “styled” would be quite out of character for me anyway, it would look like I was wearing fancy dress. A bit of harmless fun, then. Peugeot’s presence at Latitude was a benevolent one, just a bit of fun, something that could be opted in or out of, and that was a relief. The final verdict, though, would have to wait until Lykke Li delivered her headline set. My concern was that she would crowbar some Peugeot reference in there, perhaps when she performed the track “Gunshot” which features on the 108 TV advertising campaign. But, no. You could have left after the final encore without being reminded a single time of Peugeot’s existence. So a pat on the back is in order for both Peugeot and Lykke Li, the former not drowning the event under a tsunami of corporate bullshit, the latter not whoring herself out to sponsorship anywhere near as grotesquely as she might have. Perhaps the brand with the lion misunderstood the implication of her lyric; “I’m your prostitute, you’re gonna get some” At the last count, none of the crowd benefited from the above verbal contract. (images copyright 2014 Chris Haining and Hooniverse, except the second one down which I’m sure Peugeot won’t mind) Have you ever had a cultural weekend absolutely ruined by heavy-handed automotive marketing? Share it with the group in the comments.
Latitude 2014: Lykke Li Likey Le 108.
RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.
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