What is happening with the Gibson marketing department? I have no doubt that they know their job, and I have no doubt that Gibson company sells and will sell a lot of guitars. But I have to admit that I don’t understand their latest moves. I know that leadership often involve bold moves, yet some of the latest releases such as the Gibson Les Paul Sammy Hagar are just weird. Don’t get me wrong, the guitar itself is kind of good looking except the chickenfoot print on the headstock that would have been much better and graphic on the body. However, it is the latest avatar of a long series of weird moves…
Gibson & Innovation
Being one of the oldest companies in the guitar field, Gibson is traditionally inclined to innovate. And as a matter of fact some of their latest guitars were quite creative. The late Gibson Robot or the Dusk Tiger are perfect examples of such innovations. I like the idea of an old company trying hard to innovate. Gibson sticks to its position no matter that the fans are not convinced by these attempts to breed technology and lutherie, and provide new creative tools for the most adventurous musicians (or geeks). This might be the curse of Gibson… The fans are not expecting them to make disruptive innovations. Instead, the majority of the fan base would just prefer to see ’em building the same old models again and again. Gibson is expected to leverage their most legendary instruments, and that’s what they do.
Irrelevant signature models?
Beside the production series derived from historical models, the Gibson custom shop build many signature models. The idea is not dumb after all as most of the brands do endorse artists. So why not leveraging the tradition? Many guitar heroes played Gibson guitars, and some even are exclusive users sometimes. No need to say that a Gary Moore signature, a Slash or an Angus Young model are totally relevant. On the other hand, they were bold enough to try to appropriate the Jimi Hendrix branded name. Indeed, the Voodoo Child played some Gibson guitars but supporting a Stratocaster copy (made by Authentic Hendrix LLC though) was rather erratic. The facts speak for themselves, and we’ve been left without any news from this guitar after the huge controversy.
Some artist models are even weirder just like the Kiefer Sutherland KS-336. If Gibson was trying to reach new adopters, then I think they are not doing it the right way… Don’t get me wrong once again, I have nothing against the man Kieffer, I even happen to be a fan. I doubt the fact that Gibson marketing dpt will care about my view, but here it is: Kiefer Power Bauer Sutherland is an actor for crying out loud. His fans don’t care that he also is an authentic guitar enthusiast! Sad but true! He does own a recording studio, and he is a Gibson guitars collector, so what? It doesn’t matter as long as most of his fans know him for being an actor. You are trying to sell them guitars, not phones or coffee machines!Yet I’m happy for Kiefer that he was involved with the custom shop to create his own KS-336 model.
And the latest move is a Sammy Hagar signature that is quite strange as the man has been involved with many brands and just occasionally played Gibson guitars . Let’s admit that it is not a requirement to be a regular user of a guitar from a brand before an endorsement deal. But, Sammy Hagar is mostly famous for being an influential singer, and his guitar skills (he actually is a good guitarist) remain very confidential. Nevermind… Once again I’m glad for Sammy that he has a dedicated model. I am merely questionning the Gibson methods. Maybe they’ve hired some marketing guru to give ’em some tips and advice that guitarists wouldn’t (and couldn’t) understand.
Here is a funny idea. Maybe the next move should be a Jonas Brothers signature or a Tom Kaulitz (Tokio Hotel) signature… After all this would be totally relevant: they exclusively play Gibson guitars, and their fanbases are huge. Man Gibson would totally acquire a new set of fans!! And I’m sure this will be as controversial as the latest guitars from Gibson to say the least! The buzz will spread like a venereal disease. This may even rush things and reinforce the spreading rumors about a bankruptcy, though this rumor is quite old and unverified.