Saturday 19 August 2017

U2, get on your big boots and put in some face time over here

As the band hears fresh criticism about tax, Brendan O'Connor says they risk losing touch with their Irish fanbase

GOODBYE DUBLIN, HELLO LONDON: U2’s promotional work for the new album, No Line on the Horizon, included a live performance on the roof of the BBC's Broadcasting House
GOODBYE DUBLIN, HELLO LONDON: U2’s promotional work for the new album, No Line on the Horizon, included a live performance on the roof of the BBC's Broadcasting House
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

It is surprising that an enterprise of U2's marketing skill would slip up as badly as U2 have this weekend. Unless something drastic has happened between me writing this and you reading it, U2 as they release their new album amidst a storm of hype and publicity have very visibly neglected their home country. And it's not like we couldn't have done with them this weekend.

For the last week, U2 have mainly been in England. Such has been their ubiquitousness on the BBC that British politicians have been questioning why the British national broadcaster appears to be running a free promotional campaign for U2. As I write this, U2 have not made any significant appearance on any Irish TV or radio programme. There have been two interviews with the same two publications they grant interviews to every time, publications who can be relied on to do the right thing by U2 -- the Irish Times and Hot Press -- but apart from that U2 have been very publicly absent from Ireland as their new album is released here. Worse again, they have been in England. For a band facing a PR crisis on their home turf, it is uncharacteristically stupid of them.

You can see the sense in it in some ways. For example, U2 had a whole edition of BBC's Culture Show devoted to them during the week, and they were the subjects of a suitably high-brow film on Newsnight. This kind of stuff is flattering for them and it hits the kind of mature audience that U2 need to come out and buy their new album. Friday night's appearance on Jonathan Ross would also hit the thirty- and forty-something formerly hipster crowd who possibly still buy a CD of a Saturday, and with Jonathan there was no danger of anything other than what is known in the trade as a blowjob. And just in case anyone missed all of that, there were numerous other high profile outings across multiple BBC radio stations on Friday evening.

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