You can buy everything from KISS toilet paper to coffins to, at one time, a KISS car. So who better to speak about branding than KISS bass player, singer and brand mastermind Gene Simmons?
As Brad LeBlanc put it yesterday, KISS isn’t “just a rock band, they’re a rock brand.”
LeBlanc, chief entrepreneurial officer with The Momentum Group, announced yesterday that Simmons would be the keynote speaker at Atlantic Brand Confabulation, a soirée packed with music, fine dining, champagne, a red carpet … oh, and speakers talking about branding your business and branding yourself.
The event takes place Friday, Jan. 14, from 6-9 p.m. at Casino New Brunswick and tickets are now on sale for $249 each.
Gene Simmons was born in Haifa, Israel in 1949, the only child of his mother, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. Mother and son emigrated to New York, where in 1972, Simmons founded legendary face-painted rockers KISS.
Over nearly 40 years, he has turned the band into a marketing machine, with merchandise including comic books, lunch boxes, pinball machines, computer games, wine, clothing and yes, toilet paper and coffins, featuring the faces of KISS’s four members.
Behind Simmons’ alter ego of a fire-breathing, blood-spitting demon is a business powerhouse. While he’s shared songwriting credits and vocals with each member of the band over the years, Simmons is widely regarded as the marketing man of the bunch.
He operates his own record label, can be seen weekly on the hit reality show Gene Simmons Family Jewels, has released best-selling books and has dabbled in acting and producing bands.
LeBlanc unveiled the Atlantic Brand Confabulation at Moncton Chrysler Superstore on Mountain Road yesterday afternoon, jumping out onto a stage set up outside the car retailer wearing a Gene Simmons mask and pushing press conference host Adam Gould of Broken Coast Printing & Design out of the way to take over the announcing.
LeBlanc said Simmons is someone everyone knows, and “Love him or hate him, you know him. That’s what a brand is, ladies and gentlemen.”
LeBlanc says Simmons took limited musical talent and built an empire around it.
“No one questions the KISS brand,” he says. “You’ve got brand integrity, you’ve got brand recognition, and it started with less than nothing … He’s one of the best, well-known people in this world. He sells out stadiums to this day here in North America, in China, all over the world, and he knows what it means to make a strong brand that is built to last.”
Also on the bill for Jan. 14 is Dave Carroll, a Nova Scotia-based musician with a solo career and a band in Sons of Maxwell.
Carroll, who slugged it out on the music scene for years, shot to stardom seemingly overnight a few years ago when he released a music video for his song, United Breaks Guitars.
The video was inspired by an experience Carroll had when an airline broke one of his guitars and refused to fix it. The airline later backed down and fixed the guitar after Carroll’s video went viral online.
The musician will speak on the importance of social media and responsibility.
One other speaker is expected to be added to the bill as well, but LeBlanc was keeping those details under wraps yesterday.
One of the sponsors for the event is the East Coast Music Association, which will operate a contest where one band from each of the four Atlantic provinces will be chosen to perform one song each, in front of 850 people, in addition to Simmons himself.
Also, LeBlanc said that Gene Simmons will be making an appearance at Moncton Chrysler sometime in the future for an exclusive meet-and-greet, details of which will be released in the coming weeks.
In addition, every time a business buys a table for the Atlantic Brand Confabulation, they will have their name entered into a draw for the chance to win a VIP meeting with Simmons.