Indie rock bands Xiu Xiu and F****d Up have filed a class action lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Wenner Media, the owners of Camel cigarettes and Rolling Stone magazine, respectively. The suit was filed on behalf of 186 artsist and bands, and stems from a pullout advertising spread that Camel ran in the November 15th issue of Rolling Stone, which the plaintiffs claim associated them with cigarettes without their consent. The bands are seeking a published apology and as much as $195.3 billion in damages.
What the commentators said
“Remember when we speculated that marketers wouldn’t be taking advantage of indie bands if musicians could afford their own lawyers?” said Charlie Moran in Advertising Age. “Well that’s all about to change.”
Rolling Stone is going to have a tough time fighting this, said Guy Dixon in The Globe and Mail. Although the Camel ad “doesn’t mention the band’s names,” it “does suggest an association between the cigarette company and indie music in general.” It even “lists a Web address for Camel’s ‘The Farm’ campaign, where users can listen to underground bands.”
Does anyone even pay attention to those inserts? said the blog B12 Solipsism. When I picked up that issue of Rolling Stone, I “ripped” it “out, unseen, as I do for all inserts in all magazines.” I kind of I wish I hadn’t, though—I could have “put it up for sale on eBay.”
There’s some poetic justice in all of this, said Jeff Skruck in PrefixMag.com. Rolling Stone “rarely, if ever” gives “indie bands and artists” the coverage they deserve, and now the magazine’s getting sued by 186 of them. But I do feel bad for the “schmuck who storyboarded and pitched this cross-promotional fiasco to the suits—good luck on your job search.”
It’s pretty hard not to imagine some hypocrisy in this lawsuit, said Jen Carlson in Gothamist. You really have to “wonder how many of those 186 bands filing suit actually do smoke cigarettes.”