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The hottest marketing band in the land… KISS!

February 28, 2014
KISS fan in East Stadium dorm - U of Arizona - circa 1977

KISS fan in East Stadium dorm – U of Arizona – circa 1977

Hey, it’s Friday. Rather than another cloud metaphor, I’m going to rant on the marketing genius of Chaim Witz, aka Gene Simmons of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated KISS. OK, let’s start right there. I’m sure there are some of you music snobs… Wait, I’m one of those. Anyway, some of you haters will claim KISS doesn’t belong in the RNRHOF, but I will Shout it out Loud and say you’re wrong. Ever see them live? I have. They ROCK, and that’s what counts. I don’t even know what the “Roll” part means, but that’s not important right now. Here’s an article on 10 great moments in Kiss marketing, but it doesn’t touch where I’m going, so let’s go.

KISS began their marketing genius on September 10, 1975 when they released Alive! It was a brilliant piece of content marketing way before that phrase became cool. The band had released 3 studio records to little commercial success. The studio could not convey the customer experience of the band performing live, so they provided fans some content with value to build interest in their brand. And did they. The band sold six-million copies of Alive!, and boosted sales of their 3 previous studio releases.

KISS AliveKISS was a band with a brand, and they milked it for every dime. Wikipedia cites an article in BrandWeek by Sandra O’Loughlin that, “Kiss has licensed its name to more than 3,000 product categories, from lunch boxes and comic books to credit cards and condoms to become nearly a one-billion-dollar brand.” A brand is a promise to consumers of the brand, and KISS’ promise was “we’ll deliver the goods.” And they did. There was nothing like a KISS show. Jimmy Buffet sings, “Don’t try to describe a kiss concert if you’ve never seen it.”

kiss-army-logo_01_bToday, graphic novels are considered hip. Our creative team put together a cool one called The Adventures of Mr. Mustachio In the Retail World of Tomorrow. KISS did their first comic book with Marvel in 1977… More cool content marketing. Content and customer experience were just two pieces to the puzzle. The third was community. Long before there were “community platforms” like Lithium, Jive, Get Satisfaction, or hell, the internet itself, the KISS Army was a community of fans with one mission: “We Want KISS!” The KISS Army was truly a fan community, started to pressure radio stations into playing the bands music, and at it’s peak had 100,000 members and generated $5,000 a day in merchandise sales.

So, the lesson of KISS is that focusing the customer experience and complementing it with creative content marketing will attract customers to build a community of raving fans to grow your business, build customer loyalty, and ultimately make you very profitable.

“Music was never the point.” – Entrepreneur/Musician, Gene Simmons

Now let’s turn the channel to 1975 and “The Midnight Special” for some classic KISS!


PS – My KISS resume:

  • July 11, 1976 South Yarmouth, MA Cape Cod Coliseum
  • January 1, 1977 Providence, RI Providence Civic Center (in full makeup with 3 buddies)
  • August 21, 1977 Tucson, AZ Tucson Convention Center
  • August 25, 2003 Mansfield, MA Tweeter Center (with daughter Megan!)
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Valerie permalink
    February 28, 2014 9:47 am

    “Gene Simmons is a marketing genius”, she says as she is sipping her coffee from a KISS mug, typing on a KISS keyboard, while sitting in a KISS chair. KISS does get it right in regards to customer experience, the ticket prices can be high but give their customers a show that is worth every dime.


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