What's your take on "CamelStoneGate?" - Rolling Stone and Camel vs. Indie Rock bands

Here’s a good summary of what’s going on if you want to read it and see the pictures to judge for yourself.

Long story short: Rolling Stone ran an article/cartoon of “the indie rock universe” naming a ton of indie bands in a cartoony galaxy presentation on a big foldout page - that just happened to be on the opposite side of a big, foldout ad for Camel cigarettes based around Camel’s new indie rock-based marketing campaign. The bands named in the cartoon feel that this was an intentional misuse of their names, and that it was made to look like the Ad and the article were the same thing, and that the bands were supporting and endorsing Camel. Not everyone is suing everyone else, and there’s even talks that Camel might get in major, major trouble for violating the “no using cartoons to advertise cigarettes” rule.

My .02 - this is really dumb and everyone’s overreacting. If you look at the ad and the cartoon, they look nothing alike - they’re done in two completely different styles and seem to have absolutely no link to each other other than that they both occupy two sides of the same foldout page. Also, it’s a no-brainer that there would just happen to be a music-themed ad in the biggest music magazine out there; it’s not like this happened in The Wall Street Journal or something.

I’m all for anything that causes Camel cigs and Rolling Stone pain, suffering and cash. Fuck 'em.

Besides, any editor worth their salt would have seen that in mock-up and switched the ad to someplace else in the rag.

Why? I see no connection between the two.

You might not, but lots of people would. It was a stupid mistake by RS, and they will likely pay for it.

But why would people make that mistake? The ad and the editorial cartoon are not on the same page. They’re not even next to each other - they’re on the BACKS of each other. It’s not like they’re on opposing pages that could possibly be mistaken for a two-page spread - even though in that case, they still are done in two completely different styles, so it would be a reach to think that they’re meant to be related. They’re on each others’ backs, so you can’t even see them at the same time. How could that possibly be construed as some sort of intentional linkage?

I think that with the long history of shameless corporate misuse and appropriation of independent things, like that whole Nike/Minor Threat thing, people are ready for a (legal) lynching. But this isn’t the one - there’s really no case here.

To be fair, from what I am reading, they are on the same page. Both sides of it. In my experience, both sides of a fold-out tend to be related to eachother. Editor should have avoided it. That said, IANAEditor, but I have worked for several in the past.

  1. I disagree completely; in a magazine like “Rolling Stone,” there are ads on almost every page. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fold-out page in a magazine like there where both sides were the same thing or were meant to be linked in any way.

  2. The editors are claiming that it’s a coincidence and that they had no idea which ads were going to be where. What’s up with that?

What about Minor Threat Sauce?

And this is fairly bad, but nearly as bad as that company that straight ripped off photos of Dan Deacon performing and used it as a “We’re Cool!” ad campaign.

“Minor Threat” is a term that’s been around long before the band, and isn’t particularly unique, so I don’t get too bent out of shape about the sauce. I mean, if someone makes a soda called “Tom’s of Montreal,” the band has no right to get uppity. On the other hand, if someone made a candy bar called Charalambides, well, that’s totally different.

The Greyhound/Dan Deacon thing is a completely different situation as Greyhound did actually use a picture of him in their ad. That did not happen with this Camel ad - none of the band names are in the Camel ad.

My eyes saw the thread title as CamelToeGate. Am I going to heck?

No question about it. The “special fold-out section” is all about indie rock, and the Camel ads specifically say “committed to supporting and promoting independent record labels.” Why would they just happen to juxtapose that with a little cartoon about indie bands?

I don’t know that Camel created the cartoon themselves, but the whole thing looks like a “special advertising supplement” clearly meant to make the connection between Camel and indie bands. You see that all the time in fashion magazines and such, but I don’t know how much the magazine’s editorial staff works with the advertisers in those cases.

No, no - that was created specifically because the owner loves Minor Threat and Ian MacKaye didn’t particulary care. Story.

If you are running an ad tying your brand to indie music, why wouldn’t you want it near the section on indie music? That sounds like Advertising 101, not that I took that course. It doesn’t mean Camel was trying to suggest the bands actually endorse their cigs, but even if the bands aren’t entitled to money I very much understand their complaint.

Having worked in magazine publishing, my guess is that someone in advertising/editorial knew darn well that the two were being placed next to each other. That’s what you DO at magazines. My magazine ran a pets column every month for the sole purpose of being able to run dog-food ads adjacent to it. Our readers didn’t really care if they saw articles about pets in our magazine or not.

That’s what I think of when I think of indie music, I think of not being tied to corporate interests and getting big contracts from tobacco companies.

As the business editor for a magazine I can say that the placement of every ad is scrutinized. The editors who put the content of the ad together had to understand from the first second that the flip side of the foldout would be related by everyone who saw it to the inside contents. If they didn’t, they should be fired before lunch.

My understanding from various articles on the issue is that Camel did not know the exact form of the non-advertising material. That’s surprising, but cigarette advertising is a special and delicate subject and I guess that as long as they had an arrangement with Rolling Stone that the content and tone of the material would not be insulting or offensive they would remain at arm’s length. Again, just from reports, they did not know that the material would be in cartoon form. The editors should have known this would be a problem, however. Of course, the type of cartoons in no way resembles the Joe Camel style of cartoon. And normal human beings can’t think like those who want to go on the attack for any perceived slights.

The indie band issue is another red herring. You want your band mentioned in Rolling Stone? Then you get whatever else happens in Rolling Stone. You want it both ways? Tough. Indie band fans who protest this are on the same level as those who think that any cartoon promotes cigarettes to kids. (Just for the record, I’m a proud anti-smoking Nazi and would like cigarettes to be banned from the world, so I get the mentality. I differ only in that I recognize that there’s a real world out there and every minute of life is a compromise.)

Overall, my take is that the editors at Rolling Stone should have thought harder about the ad and checked it in advance with outsiders to see what the reaction would be. As infractions go, though, this one is pretty minor. The cigarette industry does things ten times worse before breakfast every day. And so does the magazine industry. And so does the record industry, which the indie bands are part of, like it or not.

In the tree-killing publishing world fold-out sections are expensive and are planned way in advance of regular magazine contents and it’s customary to secure sponsors for them separately.

There is no question that Rolling Stone knew exactly what ads were going on the back of the fold outs.

And it’s also standard for there to be an explicit association between fold-out content and its sponsors. Even if there wasn’t explicit association here, the fact that they were both on the fold-out and they both referred to “indie” music acts as a clear message to readers that there is an association.

I don’t know about the cigarette advertising issue, but it seems to me that the bands have a very good claim of misappropriation for commercial purposes. Their identities were explicitly linked to promotion of certain goods in a manner easily construed as an endorsement. There’s a big difference in this respect between regular magazine ads and special fold-out sections.

Looking at all the pages of the foldout, I’d say it looks absolutely intentional, they look related to me, I would assume that it was one giant 8 page Camel and Indie Music advertisement. I think the artists have a legitimate complaint here.


What the hell has happened to Rock and Roll? I can remember when bands used to sing about getting high, getting drunk, and getting laid. Maybe while driving your car very very fast (or as P.J. O’Rourke titled one of his columns, “How to drive fast on drugs while getting your wing-wang squeezed, and not spill your drink.”)

So we go from that to freaking underground bands getting their panties in a twist because their names were mentioned in proximity to a cigarette ad?

Rock is dead.