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running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Never Mind the Bollocks... or the Sex Pistols

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The graphic mashup, or branding sample, is back in the news. As I posted earlier this year, a furniture shop in Edinburgh used a brilliant IKEA mashup, featuring the wordplay 'IKANA' as part of their summer sale campaign.

And now, none other than the Sex Pistols are threatening legal action against an ice-cream company who have produced an advert borrowing heavily from Jamie Reid's famous God Save the Queen artwork of 1977 -

God Save the Queen

'Icecreamists', as they amusingly call themselves, are the company behind the ad campaign. They are using the strapline "God Save the Cream" on a black and pink sample which bears a noticeable resemblance to the aforementioned famous 7" single sleeve, and mimicks the Pistols visual imagery in general. Sounds great, and it doesn't look too bad either :

God Save the Cream

From what I've read, Icecreamists are running a concession within the Selfridges storefront on Oxford Street, central London, until November. They describe their company as a "subversive ice-cream brand", and one of their products is an ice-cream cocktail called the Sex Pistol, which comes with a shot of absinthe.

So far, I am liking this company a lot.

Which is why it's so disappointing to hear that the Sex pistols, who championed the do-it-yourself ethos, and made getting banned the essential punk credential, are now attempting to ban somebody who has subverted them.

Lawyers representing the band (further gasps and gobs of incredulity) have written to Icecreamists demanding that they stop using the Sex Pistols-related strapline and imagery on all their promotional material.

God only knows how much the Pistols, Lydon in particular, has made in royalty rights from music, posters and everything else that has been flogged to death since the band's demise in 1978. Of course the whole concept the band were responsible for creating has by-and-large been swallowed up by modern commercialism, and this saga should actually be welcomed as a breath of fresh air to the originators.

Which brings us to the real crux of the matter.

Nowadays, what's rotten about Johnny isn't his teeth, or his hair, or his snarl, but his penchant for embarrassing publicity stunts. These include appearing in a £5m TV campaign for the Country Life butter, getting marooned in a reality TV show, and reforming the Pistols as a novelty stadium band - giving performances where he spends half the time boasting about being 50 and having a beer belly (see Julien Temple's film of the Pistols Reunion Live in London, 2008).

Only the music remains now, and of course the imagery, which has a life of its own and belongs to us all.