Wanna Smell like Sid Vicious?: The Incredibly Strange World of Sex Pistols Merchandising (Yes--They've Just Put Out a Perfume)

Eau de Rotten?

No, just "Sex Pistols -- The Fragrance," ready to be issued in the US by Paris-based perfume brand Etat Libre d'Orange. There's gonna be a "Never Mind the Bollocks" soap as well. No, really.

We've been reading Billboard's fascinating article about the incredibly strange world of Sex Pistols merchandising.

Once you get over the initial cynicism (cue 1977's "Anarchy in the UK"), meta-cynicism (cue the mid-'90s "Filthy Lucre" tour version of "Anarchy in the UK"), and meta-meta-cynicism (cue Johnny Rotten's 2000s appearances in butter commercials and cheesy celebrity reality shows), what makes the article so compelling is that it features insider interviews with the people who help market the Sex Pistols brand and put these deals together. (Yes, LiveNation is involved, of course...)

Think about this next time you play Never Mind the Bollocks (we always liked the Spunk versions better, by the way):

Michael Krassner, executive VP of worldwide retail and licensing for Live Nation Merchandise, says frontman Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon) and other band members are "closely involved" with all licensing decisions.

"They know who they are better than we do," Krassner says. "That's difficult in some respects, as opposed to someone who just approves everything. But ultimately, if you want your brand to endure, you have to have a level of consistency and quality over time."

And the perfume will be far from the only quirky Pistols product on the market. Officially licensed alarm clocks, refrigerator magnets and removable laptop skins are already available, as is virtual Pistols merch for characters in computer game "The Sims."

[the] top-selling Pistols item is a "Never Mind the Bollocks" coffee mug. "The fans are older now and might be less inclined to wear their heart on a sleeve with a T-shirt," Half Moon Bay entertainment brand product manager Rachel Carpenter says.

Still, the perfume launch could have a "negative impact on the Pistols' cultural currency," says Snowy Hanbury, joint head of planning at advertising/creative agency Anomaly London, which worked the recent Kasabian/Umbro deal for the World Cup. "The Sex Pistols brand has no tenable association to fragrance," Hanbury says. "As with any brand or celebrity partnership, it's all about relevance and understanding your audience -- I cannot see who the audience is here."

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