Heartless Marketing: The Last Drop of Lemmy


Heartless Marketing: The Last Drop of Lemmy

January 8, 2016 Digi Future of Marketing In English Internet marketing Media Social Media 11
Drink Milk

Sorry to say this, but I don’t find this marketing campaign as a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead. Sorry Valio​, sorry Hasan & Partners​. And all my friends working for both organizations. I think this is heartless marketing disguised as a tribute.

The original ad from the 90’s was introduced by the dairy nutrition council, a lobbyist organization for dairy products in Finland. The original ad features a hardcore alcoholic stating that he has never drunk any milk nor will do so.  Just look at this :

Thus, the original ad suggest that if you do not drink milk you will get in a very bad health condition.

Now Valio, the leading dairy product company and it’s ad agency Hasan & Partners publish a “remake” of the ad, saying it is a tribute to Lemmy, “We raise our glasses to Lemmy”.

And then there is an entire “Valio tribute to Lemmy” web page for Lemmy.

Most of the content is “branded” with Valio milk. The tribute video on YouTube was released only yesterday. And suddenly this is all over the media, also internationally. Something that requires quite much planning and PR to make it happen. There are so few hits on the video that the media was not likely to find it through virality.

As the consumer of the original ad back in the 90s, I feel Lemmy is pictured as a warning example of someone who doesn’t drink their milk.

Marketing with Lemmy

As a marketing strategist, I can imagine what the Valio marketing has been thinking.

“Lemmy is dead. What a lucky event for us. He is dead and we can make this international viral thing with this fresh footage! Let’s do a quick agile thing and call it a tribute. A great emotional piece that is likely to create lot of coverage and plenty of brand recognition.”

And then, this campaign happened.

Thinking this from a marketing perspective, the situation is very interesting. You manage to get Lemmy for your ad, the shooting goes well and you get great footage.

Then, suddenly your superstar dies. What should we do? We’ve invested lot of money to an ad that (with a grin) suggests that you look bad if you don’t drink your milk. And now the star is dead.

Well, at least you shouldn’t explain that what your original idea was and then just publish the content online instead of running the ad on tv, added with a few lines saying “this is a tribute to Lemmy” and add suggestions about how healthy milk is.

If you do a tribute to someone like Lemmy, why not publish some real “making of” footage? Show what he was and how he behaved on and off the camera. He must have some potentially legendary one-liners, he must have made an impact to the set. Show who he was, and forget about the “milk branding” – it has nothing to do with Lemmy.

You probably had all the tools to make a great and worthy tribute to Lemmy Kilmister. Why didn’t you?


11 Responses

  1. Sanna says:

    Making-of kuvissa ei näy maitoa tähden välipalapöydällä …

  2. Hey Janne – Happy new year!

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention – I am not sure many Americans saw this, and I never did with all of the Lemmy tributes online. I smiled when I saw it – I saw Lemmy play this past summer in Chicago, and it was an amazing show.

    As for the appropriateness – I have to think about this. Clearly he signed up for this, and the video was to go live. The question was probably when – perhaps later in the year to coincide with Motorhead touring? I definitely think it should have been released. The accompanying page on their site does have photos from the shoot, so there is part of the tribute.

    There have been worse marketing of the dead, and I am not sure this is near the top – then again, I need to think about it some more. I like his smile at the end – not taking himself too seriously.


  3. I’ve been offline for some hours, and things have happened. Lot of comments and discussion around this topic, all very interesting.

    Based on various feedback, there are lot of people who honour and respect Lemmy Kilmister and his extensive career. These people think the commercial is very much like what Lemmy was, and I can’t disagree with that. Actually, I have nothing negative to say about Lemmy.

    I still think Valio has crossed the fine line you have in marketing related to people and brands. How does the pouring of milk and slogan “Milk from Finland” relate to this great rocker and his life and career as a musician? Well, that’s the last thing you see while watching this tribute.

    Also, I would like to emphasize that the original ad from the 90s communicate between the lines that “if you don’t drink milk, you will look like this guy, who is in such a bad condition that he may die any time soon”. Back then it served as both anti-alcohol campaign (yes, we Finns do have major problems with alcoholism) and also as an pro-milk promotion (for nutritional reasons back then). Those who understand this context can see Lemmy as an alcoholic who defined drinking milk and the he dies. And giving that impression in the consumers perception is not good at all.

    Like said before, I disagree on HOW the campaign was executed after Lemmy’s death, not with the campaign itself.

    Luckily I’m not alone on this one.

    RIP Lemmy.

    There is an open Facebook post in my profile,

  4. Jussi Mononen says:

    If this was a tribute for Lemmy, why, for the love of all that is holy, did they play “An der schönen blauen Donau” in it (yes, I know it played in the original ad). Why not Orgasmatron or something else by the man himself. The Strauss tells the real story: this was not really a tribute to Lemmy.

  5. Vesa Leppänen says:

    I too pondered whether or not this was a failure on part of Valio when I saw it go viral on social media. Personally I think they released the whole thing too thin and at the at wrong time. I also felt slightly disgusted about the whole thing. Just that familiar nagging feeling I get when I see anything “almost properly done” with branding.

    Valio and the agency could have crafted and created more content. I wonder if it ever surfaced as a point to wait for things to calm down? Just out of pure respect? For me Valio did not do that great a job in making it feel like a tribute. I am pretty sure Wheeler wrote about “causes” having to be pure for the best impact and I am taking liberties in fitting this tribute loosely to that segment.

    Like you said, more about the day of the shoot, perhaps more about how they landed the deal and how things went from A to O. This just feels too thin and it’s pretty obvious to me that they fired the gun prematurely to ride on the wave of all things Lemmy going viral. They should waited and tried to create unique viral thing out of it with resources and efforts after some months. Not like this. Who knows, perhaps it would have gained more traction as a pure tribute and reminder with no product placement of any sort.

    All in all, I think Valio did benefit even when I share your sentiment about the whole thing Janne. They could have made more out of it by being pure.

    Dear Valio and respected agency: Nothing in branding Oy Milk Ab Ltd businesses or products can’t ever seem impudent. 🙂

  6. Munamankeli says:

    Hmm… this is somewhat twofold. You have to know the whole context – previous campaign and its message – back in the 90s to see that it’s not necessarily about tribute, honour, or commemorate Lemmy’s incredible career. Otherwise the campaign may just look cool and succeeds to manifest unknown dairy company’s “rebellious” branding with a twist.

    Surprisingly quite many Finns on metal forums approved the campaign and did not see or are unwilling to accept the irony and controversy.

  7. Did they edit the video?

    There is a post-roll explaining what they did, and I don’t recall seeing that originally, unless I missed it.

    And from what I know, you also can’t edit a YouTube video? At least I can’t, maybe Finland’s largest dairy has influence I don’t…


    • Hey Mike,

      The post-roll was there from the beginning all right.

      They just never explained what the original ad was all about. “This is what you will look like if you don’t drink milk”

      About editing YouTube videos. You can trim the existing videos, but for adding something you need to re-publish.

      Greetings from the very wintery Helsinki!

      • brendan says:

        Nothing,nothing would surprise me about Finland, a land of supposedly”a great education system”, a land where they exploit their population mercilessly. Oh , sorry , I forgot, they fought the Russians in their Winter War for the privelege of living in a shoebox for exorbitant rents and starvation wages. Lemmy ,btw, was a degenerate emblem for their so called civilisation.

      • b mc gourty says:

        well, its no surprise that Valio should try to exploit anyone’s passing.( In a land where they boast of their famous Winter war against the Russians and still have their people living in virtual slavery),but, I must add that Lemmy was no advert for liberation. He was uneducated and indifferent to the real suffering of humanity.,

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