Friday, 2 April 2010

Popshop, January 1977: Why did Polydor misuse ABBA’s press conference? – Dutch press was absent in Poland

Recently, reporters from all over Europe travelled to the Polish capital Warsaw to keep a close eye on the activities of the Swedish top group ABBA. From Stockholm, reporters and photographers flew along with the idols and for three days in a row they could chat and take pictures of the group, that can be considered as one of the busiest supergroups at the moment. The European press could thank the record companies, that release ABBA’s records in the respective countries, for this trip. However, the Dutch press was conspicuous by its absence...

ABBA was in Poland to film a television special and one thought that this was a nice subject to invite the media to come along. Apart from that, the Swedes are extremely popular in Poland, as they are everywhere, so the photographers could take pictures of ABBA with a crowd of fans in the background. ABBA’s Dutch record company, Polydor, didn’t think this was very important and the only Dutchman who got an airline ticket in his mail was the DJ Willem van Beusekom...

Afterwards, Polydor stated that ABBA probably wouldn’t have performed in Mies Bouwman’s television show at all, if a delegation of the Dutch press had come to Poland. Of course, it’s very touching that the gentlemen at Polydor are so considerate to look out for Mies Bouwman’s interests, but what was done for the Dutch press that has always looked out for ABBA’s interests with big stories and photo reports?
A press conference was organised at the Bel Air Hotel in The Hague, where numerous people from other record companies were present, people from the radio and television world and at last the Dutch music press. Barely one and a half hour was reserved for this event, and during that time the Swedish quartet had to receive gold and platinum records as well, so that the press hardly had the opportunity to chat with ABBA. But the most astounding fact was that Polydor thought it was necessary to use this ‘press’ conference to advertise a music magazine that will remain unnamed. The walls were covered with prominent billboards that mentioned the name of this magazine and of course a copy of this magazine was put in ABBA’s hands. Obviously, the magazine grabbed this opportunity with both hands to advertise their new publication extensively. For instance, they had a nice trophy at hand for the four Swedes who were standing around tongue-tied, because... who exactly was the centre of attention here?

When you look at the facts, it’s clear that Polydor, as the only record company in Europe that represents ABBA, did not invite journalists to make a nice report in Poland, and thought that the customary pictures with gold records and trophies were sufficient. Journalists in Poland had more than enough time to talk to the Swedes quietly, which was a far cry from the heated atmosphere at most press conferences. In short: Polydor let a unique chance go by to give the press the opportunity to get some good material for its magazines and indirectly promote ABBA and Polydor, naturally!
No, Polydor says, we are going to have a different approach, we will organise the customary press conference with gold records and put one music magazine in the limelight (the why of this wondrous decision obviously isn’t revealed) and use ABBA as a publicity stunt to focus even more attention on this one magazine. Because of this, it all turned into a boring happening for the other journalists, because you may be each other’s colleagues, a publicity stunt of this calibre simply isn’t interesting for other magazines. ABBA in Poland was!

ABBA has the last word in this matter. How do they feel about incidents like this? It is widely known that ABBA isn’t one of those glamorous groups that exclusively appears at every party. On the contrary, they are very normal people who emphasize the fact that they are normal people in every interview. They work hard and are very happy with their success. As a famous group, you can’t avoid being used for a publicity stunt, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your own name! In this case, ABBA was able to read only one miserable story in a Dutch magazine about their visit to Holland: we don’t need to explain that this is not the kind of press reception that ABBA is aiming for!

All in all, it’s quite an unpleasant situation and rightfully ABBA pointed out: “Where are our Dutch fans?” In return, displeased ABBA fans wrote: “Where is ABBA?” The accompanying photos from Poland prove that ABBA is not to blame in any way. Our photo correspondent took these exclusive pictures because we want to show our readers something different than boring pictures of official receptions. Apart from that, these pictures prove that ABBA is willing to appear in front of photographers and fans in a natural atmosphere...

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Thanks very much for sharing Michel! :D