What I learned from Gene Simmons: sadly, not so much

Posted January 26, 2011 in Latest News & Insights

Gene Simmons was in Toronto this week speaking at AdWeek 2011 about business, marketing, how to build an empire, etc. etc.  Even though my close friends point fingers and laughed at me, I bought my ticket and went to hear Simmons’ inside scoop on how to leverage a brand to the hilt.  The night kicked off well with some mind-boggling stats on Kiss’ marketing power.  They’re truly a rock juggernaut when it comes to self-promotion.  However, after the setup and a few tidbits about his life (which were for the benefit of non-Kiss fans / Family Jewels viewers), he came off the stage and into the audience to do some impromptu q&a.  What ensued was a cross between the Gong Show and Dragon’s Den.

The idea was to talk to the “business owners” in the crowd so that he could tell you how to make more money.  Instead, the audience members who jumped to the mic started pitching everything from their band’s CD to “Sleep with a Celebrity” pillows (which Simmons immediately called the designer on for not having a license to put his image on a pillow) to a former Dragon’s Den contestant who pitched him (in a rap song) her kids cartoon series called “Meet the Farties”… about a family of butts.  I kid you not.

Cringe-inducing entertainment to be sure, but for those of us in the room who were actually interested in hearing how far Simmons would go to shell the Kiss brand and what’s made the partnership between him and Paul Stanley work so well for the past 37 years work, etc. etc…. well, let’s just say, this attendee didn’t get her money’s worth.

Jian Ghomeshi, who introduced Gene, had suggested in a pre-event call that they do an ‘informal interview’ on the stage and possible field some questions from the audience.  A much better plan.

The lesson I took away is that, when it comes to doing something that you don’t necessarily do for a living (Gene Simmons is an entrepreneur and rock star… not a skilled interviewer or wrangler of audience questions), it’s best to take the advice of people who know better.  Jian tried to sneak in a couple of questions in between the groupies asking for their tattoo’s to be signed, but it wasn’t enough.

On the plus side, it was actually great to see a mega branded guy like Gene Simmons be so down to earth and gracious as he maneuvered the crowd… definitely a class act (which surprised me given his arrogant persona).

And, I know this is the real question that’s on all of your minds as you read this: is his hair really that much of a brillo pad?  Yes, my friends.  Yes it is.

Overall, I learned a lot about how much money Kiss can make for advertisers, that your kids need to learn how to fend for themselves, and that men mature at about 40.  I paid $75 for this wisdom… Simmons got $100k for the hour he spent.  Guess there’s a lesson in that too.

Happy leading!


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