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William Rion

Nov. 14th 2014


Paper #3: Analyzing Truths in Advertising

The ads I have chosen for my paper are a series of advertisements created by three of the
top brands in music equipment, Gibson guitars, Fender guitars, and Marshall amplification. Both
of these brands are very well established in the world of musicians, and music all together. Over
the past decades, (centuries, in Gibsons case) these brands have been played by, recorded on,
toured with, and everything in between by many of the most renowned musicians and bands
today and in history. Being that the products alone and countless musicians already speak for
these companies, they tend to not demonstrate the most aggressive or widespread advertising
campaigns. You really only see theyre ads in magazines like Rolling Stone or Guitar World, or
outside your local music shop. But the ads they do print, are aimed at very small, specific
audiences within the musical community.
They are also perfect examples of ethos, pathos and logos. They often relay on the
credibility of famous artists who are commonly seen with theyre product; like Jimmy Page and
his iconic 59 Gibson, commonly used to sell Gibsons Les Paul models. They might use details
or hints that grab a certain audience, for example, is Marshall marketing a 200-watt, heavy-duty,
high-gain, amp stack to touring rock band playing arenas? Or is it a small, warm-sounding, tubepowered combo for a gig at a small jazz club? All of these companies produce not just ads, but
products aimed at a variety of players; beginners, pros, touring bands, casual gigging musicians,

blues men, country singers, metal-heads, younger boys who like bright colors and impractical
shapes, girls who like Taylor Swift, the different audiences are endless.
The first advertisement I would like to discuss was created by Fender. Its not necessarily
aimed at one of their specific products, but at the brand as a whole. The ad simply shows a fairly
intense vintage photograph of Jimi Hendrix, literally the most influential guitarist in the history
of music. The text reads The sounds that create legends. And the Fender Logo is placed
tastefully at the bottom right. The reason this ad is effective in regards to ethos is because the
product (a Fender Stratocaster) is seen in the hands of, once again, the most creditable figure.
Seeing this ad is meant to not only to sell the guitars, but to reinforce the fact that people all over
the world associate Jimi Hendrix with his iconic white, up-side-down Fender. As you could
imagine, this association is good for business. For example, my dad has an old off-white Fender
Stratocaster, and almost every time someone comes over and sees it, they make a Hendrixrelated comment.
Gibson ran a similar ad back in the 1970s when Led Zeppelin was huge. For some
background, Zeppelins guitarist, Jimmy Page is another one of the worlds most renowned
guitar players. Like Hendrix, Pages playing is idolized, studied, learned, played and replayed by
musicians of all age and skill sets. The ad is even more simple than is Fender counterpart. It
simply shows a shot of Jimmy Page on stage, passionately playing a well lit, clearly depicted
black Gibson Les Paul. The only text says Les Paul Series and then the Gibson logo at the
bottom. With ads like these Fender and Gibson examples, very little actually needs to be said by
the famous person endorsing it, or about the product itself. Both simply rely on the combined
creditability and established reputation of the product and the famous spokesperson to make a
point that they produce a high-quality product, worthy of being chosen by those who could chose

any guitar. To someone who doesnt have any interest in guitars or listen to certain music, these
ads mean close to nothing. Its simply Some guy, endorsing some product, neither of which I
know anything about. because of the lack of description, theres no testimony from the person,
no list of key features or product specifications, no slandering the competitor, its simply meant to
try to tie two Rock and Roll icons (a guitar and a player) together permanently as a single icon,
in order to give the brand more reputation.
Brands that make instruments and music equipment realize that the people buying their
products dont all play the same types of music, to the same amounts of people, for the same set
times, in the same scenario, every one has different tastes and needs. And they people in charge
of advertising do their best to appeal to just about everyone. A good example of an audiencespecific ad is the following Marshall Amplification ad. The ad is for a line of amplifiers designed
for guitarist Kerry King of Slayer (I dont listen to Slayer, I promise.) Its essentially a classic
JCM800, but fitted with the exact same custom modifications King made to his own, giving it a
higher output, and more-gain, making it more suited for the intense metal music played by
Slayer. The model number and knob labels on the amp are stamped like this JCM800 instead of
like this JCM800, and the tribal markings on the front grille of the amp are even meant to
resemble his head-tatoos, all to give it that metal appearance. This tweaked JCM800 was then
replicated, mass produced, and marketed by Marshall as the KK Signature model. The ads for
this product are rare, controversial, kind of vulgar, and clearly aimed at hardcore metal-heads (it
took me a while to find the ad I knew I had seen before.) They depict Kerry King (a terrifying
man; bald, with a long braided beard, wearing a pentagram tank-top, and covered in tattoos, the
most visible of which reads God hates us all.) holding the 60+ plus-pound amp over his head,
with his mouth open, aggressively yelling. There is a quote from Kerry King about the product, it

reads The 2203KK punches like Mike Tyson in his Prime, and Im sure it will kick youre ass
as much as it stomps on mine. Crank it up and enjoy the best f**king amp on the planet. Bottoms
up. Kerry King. Obviously this is not the most acceptable advertisement and probably scared
as many people away from the product as it attracted. However, its extremely effective toward
its intended audience. In terms of metal guitarists, Kerry King is about as creditable as they come
and as barbaric as it might be, this ad holds true to Marshalls reputation of being the most iconic
amplifier in history and for being played at speaker-blowing volumes.
Another audience-specific ad I would like to discuss is another amplifier ad, one made by
Fender. Its on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the Kerry King Marshall ad in
terms of the product and whom theyre trying to sell it to. In this ad, Fender is advertising an
amplifier, but one totally different from Marshalls. And, theyre famous spokesperson is Eric
Clapton, more of classic rock, blues, blues-rock musician, however equally as respected as
Hendrix, or Page. The products are the EC (Eric Clapton) series Amps by Fender, handmade,
custom designed, boutique-style, tube-powered combo amp endorsed by the man himself. The ad
is extremely conservative and aimed at an audience opposite that of Kerry Kings Marshall. It
simply shows Eric Clapton (average looking grey-haired man with glasses), wearing a plain old
black suit and white shirt sitting and playing a very simple black and white Fender guitar. Hes
sitting against a white back-drop on a stool, surrounded by the various available sizes of the
Amp. The amps them selves are also very conservative looking. I feel as though this ad is aimed
more specifically at blues musicians, and those who play more mature music, like middle-aged
male guitarists (which happen to make up most of Claptons fan-base) Also, the maturity of the
ad, the price of the product (the smallest one pictured sells for $1,000), and the fact that its

hand-made implies that its not something for the casual player. Its meant for a very serious
player, who cares very much about sound and quality.
Another set of Gibson advertisements that I liked were ads for their Les Paul and SG
Models. One ad simply shows a red, devils pitchfork on the left and a red Gibson SG on the
right, on a black back-drop. There is no text. The SG has always been associated with rock and
roll, especially because of AC/DCs Angus Young and his school-boy outfit making the guitar
iconic. An SGs body is symmetrical with a double cutaway, making it look like a set of small
devil horns (if you buy it in wine red, that is.). This makes it the perfect Rock and Roll guitar and
thus makes it appeal to a certain group. Gibson finally caught onto this reference that people
have been making since the guitar first came out in the 1960s, and used it in they
advertisements. The other ad is extremely similar, but its for the Les Paul model, which many
people say is a more classy SG. The wine red version of the Les Paul is also used, but its next
to a glass of red wine, not a pitch fork. This ad does the same thing as the SG version, it takes a
stereotype that people have given guitar and turns it into a clever visual to promote the product.
For my anti-ad, I decided to poke fun at something in the world of instruments and music
gear that has always baffled me. Every once in a while, Fender, Gibson and Marshall will release
a new line of guitar or amp, that is an exact copy or replica of the one used by a famous
musician. For example, Fender made an exact replica of Eddie Van Halens Frankenstein guitar,
and I mean exact. Artificially aged word, wear and tear in all the same places, exact
specifications, like I said. Exact. Replica. Gibson released a replica of Paul McCartneys
acoustic. Theyve done so for Slash, Jimmy Page, Billie Joe Armstrong, the list goes on. But, the
point is, these replicas cost insane sums of money. The Eddie VH Frankenstein copies were
marked at $24,000 each. I saw the price tag myself. The Billie Joe Gibson, $4,000, when the

same model not endorsed by him, was $1,500. The names of these people makes the prices shoot
up through the roof. So, for my anti-ad I made an ad for an exact replica of the smashed guitar
from Nirvanas Saturday Night Live set. Its an exact replica of Kurt Cobains fender that night,
that he smashed. Accept we sell it to you already smashed well beyond repair, just the way he
did it! Broken and scratched in all the same spots! No working electronics and totally
unplayable! And those broken, splintery heap of wood, wire and strings can be your for only
$15,000. My anti-ad is meant to make fun of how simply putting a famous persons name on any
product warrants a higher price, and not just that, but one that people actually end up paying. I
chose those specific captions for the ad because normally there are small quotes about the
product, usually praising it, I figured expressing customer discontent would strengthen my antiad, which was to advertise an impractical and overpriced product.
The biggest factors in how these music equipment companies advertise theyre products,
in my opinion, is the fact that people want recreate what they hear and want to feel connected to
all of the music they love to play and listen to. Not necessarily copying favorite artists songs note
for note, word for word, but replicating that sound. The twang of an old Telecaster, the
deafening growl of a Marshall, only comes from Telecasters and Marshalls. The iconic sounds
of these products have etched themselves in stone, into the past decades of popular music, so
much that these companies barely advertise, accept in magazines or stores where they know
there small audience is hiding. But while the audience is small, they sure do know how to speak
to them, and it works. The just of most advertisements for music gear can be summed up in a few
sentences; You like this artist. You want to play like this artist. This artist plays or uses this
guitar, this amp, this kind of string, this brand of picks, etc. And if you buys this product, your

playing might sound more like theirs. Or I am a very talented, well-paid and respected artist. I

could play whatever brand I want, but I chose this. And so should you.