Take That, teenage sensation of the 90s, went out with a whimper rather
than a bang in a week dedicated to news of bombs and the sound of
superstars clashing, says Judy Lipsey, managing director of Poole
Edwards PR Limited.
Take That, the biggest teenthrob pop sensation who made the media
coverage generated by Michael Jackson in the 80s look like it would fit
on the back of a cereal packet when compared to their own, have retired
gracefully into the ether of boy band heaven.
Glistening like Persil popsies, the ‘boys’ made their last television
appearance at the annual Brit Awards singing a new version of the Bee
Gees’ ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ As a generation of screamagers flung
themselves face down on the bed determined to sob forever, PRs heaved a
relief knowing they would now have more chance of thrusting their own
little darlings at pop journalists.
The Brit Awards should have been Take That’s finest tabloid moment, but
a potentially glorious swansong was hijacked by the Jacko v Jarvis
debacle, which made far more interesting reading the next day. Not to
mention stricken tankers and bus bombings. TT’s rehearsed exit ended up
on the cutting room floor.
Take That have had a phenomenal five years. Essentially the brainchild
of manager Nigel Martin-Smith, Gary, Mark, Jason, Howard and Robbie
hadn’t met before they found themselves members of the same band. From
these manufactured beginnings they were a press non-starter until they
had their first hit, then it was Smash Hits covers, Just 17 posters,
acres of tabloid coverage - particularly in the Daily Star which decided
to adopt the band as its own - and tons of pressure.
The PRs had to keep one step ahead as paparazzi tried to snap the boys
in the shower. They had to control the acres of drivel spewing out into
a multitude of publications while maintaining the band’s aura of
untarnished wholesomeness. Never seen with a slapper on their arms, or
anything more than an orange juice in their hands, Take That became a
marketer’s dream, a teen magazine dream and a nightmare to the PRs who
had to plan daily campaigns with Churchillian precision.
Management, PR and marketing all contrive to shape a band’s future. In
1980 Paul Weller sang that ‘the public wants what the public gets’; if
it’s sweet, more-ish and non-threatening, shove it down their throats
and they’ll be gagging for more.
The power of television is unprecedented in this country, the press
writes about music more than ever and music, good and bad, is
everywhere. But there will always be room for a bunch of shirtless,
hopeful boys posing for their record sleeve on top of a mountain -
grounded tankers or no tankers.