A McDonald’s ad tied to the brand’s Spanish-language 2013 Latin Grammy sweepstakes campaign features Venezuelan rockers La Vida Boheme performing on top of a McD’s in Mexico City, making enough noise to attract a (fry-eating) crowd. The band received two nods at the Latin Grammys nominations, which were announced yesterday (Sept. 25).
On Twitter, La Vida Boheme frontman Henry D’Arthenay described the nominations as “a little victory for independent forces in Latin America and a great victory for those who support alternative music day to day in Venezuela.”
“Their fans are our consumers,” McDonalds Sr. Creative Director of U.S. Marketing Priscila Avilés Jamison says of the group. She notes that the choice of La Vida Boheme reflects the brand’s long relationship with Latin music artists, and particularly its more recent focus for its Hispanic campaigns on selecting emerging artists who have a strong following supported by social media.
“We’re trying to catch a wave,” she explains. “A lot goes into the selection of the band.” She added that La Vida Boheme’s “emotional connection” with fans and the band members’ “interesting story” were factors in selecting them to protagonize the spots, which have aired on major Hispanic networks.
La Vida Boheme’s track “Hornos de Cal,” is up for the Latin Grammy for Best Rock Song, and they are nominated for Best Rock Album for “Será,” a visceral concept album that frontman Henry D’Arthanay has described as “a last cry before everything burns in Hell.”
The album, whose mournful, agitating passages are eased by more hopeful poetic songs, like the nominated folk-rock ballad “Hornos de Cal,” was inspired by the current mood in their native Caracas and band members’ personal experiences with the deaths and kidnappings of people close to them.
“Talking about yourself, you always talk about your context, and this being Caracas it's impossible to not be affected by it,” D’Arthanay told Billboard in an interview after the album’s U.S. release on Nacional Records last spring. “In a way,” he said, “[the album] is about every group of people having to deal with a situation that they won't win."
That was not quite the right message for McDonalds. Jamison concedes that, despite her excitement about the band, it was clear that a track from “Será” would not be a good fit for the spot, which was created by Miami-based agency Alma with music supervision by indie licensing platform Muuseme.
“That is not what our brand is standing for when we link ourselves to a band or artist,” she says. “…We’re very careful when we’re looking into the lyrics.”
“Danz,” the song heard in the commercial, is from La Vida Boheme’s first album, “Nuestra,” a more celebratory effort with a tropical punk sound that references the Ramones, for which the band received two 2011 Latin Grammy nominations.
“We liked that [song] because of the energy it had,” Jamison says, adding that it was in sync with the passion that Latinos have for dancing. “It’s about getting people energized, getting up on your feet. It fit our brand better.”
Last year’s McDonalds Latin Grammy spot took place in a McDonald’s drive in, with music by several Latin Alternative artists. In the past, McDonalds has featured music by Colombian band Bomba Estereo, and Molotov, known for controversial lyrics, in its Hispanic advertising. In 2012, urban tropical act Chino y Nacho were tied to a Happy Meal campaign that offered fans a chance to win tickets to a party at McDonalds with the Venezuelan duo.
"It's all about the love for music," Jamison adds.