It's always been clear where designer John Varvatos
gets his inspiration: his record collection.
Growing up in Detroit, Varvatos became infatuated with the slew of 1970s-era rockers that defined the music scene of the time (and, obvs, continued to influence for many years to come), and that infatuation has become the flashpoint of influence across not only his collections, but also his advertising creative. Recent spots have included Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Aerosmith's Joe Perry, alongside more modernist rock figures such as Chris Cornell, and the Scott Weiland-fronted and Slash-anchored Velvet Revolver.
So another season, another rocker and this time from the vinyl bin, Varvatos, and the team over at Yard, New York, have unearthed another vintage treat: Cheap Trick. Check out one of the spots above (click to enlarge), which feature members Bun E. Carlos, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Robin Zander (can you believe they're all still alive!) racing along on, what else, 1970s-era vintage two-seaters.
The creative, steered by Stephen Niedzwiecki, the creative director over at Yard, was inspired by boardwalk and carnival imagery (why do we always think Diane Arbus when we hear these words?) from the 1940s and 1950s.
"The Cheap Trick guys have an almost uncontainable energy," said Varvatos, in a statement. "This season is one that embodies a freewheeling style that is so quintessentially America. The campaign continues to be about iconic rock n ' rollers caught in real moments."
Real moments? I'd definitely classify this as stylized fantasy. I mean, honestly, when's the last time you saw a bunch of guys pushing into the stretches of old age racing around on bikes in full evening wear? (And if you have seen such a phenomenon, frequently, let me know where you live because it sounds like an interesting vacation spot!)
We also have to wonder if this campaign doesn't make Varvatos' brand feel too old. While we loved the campaign with Iggy Pop (who, let's face it, is no spring chicken himself, with wrinkles that recall Varvatos' own pricey, aged leather carry-alls), that campaign had a youthful exuberance that we just don't feel from the shock-white heads of the Cheap Trick-ers. This could also be a function of the fact that our eyes automatically gravitate to Rick Nielsen in the spot above; his bandmates do look more youthful on second consideration.
Regardless, the aging rocker-as-posterboy works for Varvatos, solidifying his brand's musical heritage, and, here's the big bonus: he'll never get accused of just tapping somebody because they of-the-moment (looking at you Versace with your robotic Jonathan Rhys Meyers ads). And double bonus: these guys probably come pretty cheap.
You know what would make our day, though? If Varvatos' next campaign featured T. Rex's Marc Bolan (pictured, left). C'mon John, you know you love him too! This guy is the original unicorn... Just imagine that sex bomb in a Varvatos suit!