News & Insights 2 July 2009

The Great AEG Hologram Debacle

Imagine having your very own one of these, shaped like Michael JacksonDoes anybody else think that AEG Live, the company responsible for booking Michael Jackson’s gargantuan run of shows at the O2 in May, got what was coming to them?

Against the star’s wishes, AEG extended MJ’s initial run of 10 shows to 50, virtually overnight. Michael himself wasn’t happy about this but it seemed he had no choice in the matter. It was obvious to everybody that he was going to really struggle to make it through 50 concerts – the people knew it, the media knew it and the insurance companies knew it. As a result, AEG were only able to secure insurance against a small proportion of the concerts they’d booked and now they are in the hole for something like £300 million. 

It has recently emerged that the company are offering fans a “souvenir ticket”, featuring a hologram of the great man, as an alternative to a refund. I’m sorry, but what?! A hologram? You used to get tat like that free in cereal packets in the 1980s. That is clearly the result of a group of executives sitting around a boardroom trying to figure out how they can exploit the memory of Michael Jackson just to save themselves a few quid.

Now, I don’t want to come across as naive – businessmen exploit musical talent for financial gain all the time (that’s why we have a music industry and it’s also the reason bands are able to get their music out to millions rather than just hundreds, which is clearly a good thing) –  but I think in this case it’s a little crass. The problem, however, is this. I wish I could say that the fans will see through AEG’s hokey offer. I wish I could say that devoted Jackson-ites will boycott the scheme on principle. But they won’t. And AEG know that. 

Personally, I wouldn’t accept a shiny ticket for a concert that never happened created by a desperate corporation as a suitable memento for the loss of the world’s greatest entertainer. Mind you, maybe that’s just sour grapes from one of the schmucks who failed to get a ticket in the first place. 😉 

What I will say is this – if you can’t decide between a refund and a souvenir ticket, why not join me on my soapbox and take the cash? Then, later on today, in place of framing AEG’s ground-breaking hologram technology and hanging it on your wall, why not bust out a huge ghetto blaster and strut the streets of your hometown playing “Speed Demon” on full blast and grabbing your crotch? That’s a better tribute to the King Of Pop than anything that could have been dreamed up by the suits at AEG…

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