There’s a shitstorm going on against AC/DC. The most dedicated fans of the most dedicated fan community that you can imagine are turning against the band. AC/DC Italia decided to shut down their much respcted and famous-among-fans website. Pictures like the one in this article spread in the community.
The band managed for six years to keep it secret that Malcolm Young was facing dementia and nobody else learned about it. But now road crew members turn to the media with shocking internal information. It’s terrible. AC/DC have lost control over their brand perception. How did that happen?
They may not care, because with Axl Rose as singer, stadiums will fill up with Guns N’Roses fans who will fill in the gaps left by AC/DC fans. So what? – It is an interesting case to learn from.
Why is one of the most dedicated fan community turning against their heroes? – Because Brian was fired? – We don’t even know this. And that rumor is not the reason.
The answer is hidden in AC/DC’s brand identity. In The AC/DC Strategy I explain the core values of AC/DC. The relevant selection of values that AC/DC stands for and that apply in this case are: reliability, loyality, humbleness and authenticity.
Axl Rose stands for the opposite of all of these values, except authenticity. (That only comes into play in the context of all those rumors about the true reaons behind all that.) Axl uses to leave the stage when he doesn’t like the audience. He presents himself as an arrogant guy who gives a f*** about the fans. And now he is presented as the guest vocalis following on this reliable, loyal and nice guy Brian Johnson? Fans perceive this as a serious breach of faith.
It could have worked if Brian would have made the announcement. But without Brian’s blessing, dedicated fans, who live and breath these values, could not accept this. And they didn’t.
The following shitstorm only calmed down after Brian made a statement and gave his blessings.
It helped a bit but it didn’t help very much.
And the reason for this is that Brian made the statement alone, not together with the band. Now people wonder if he did it by himself in a deserate attempt to save the band’s reputation, while the band missed that opportunity. It would have given much more credibility had they done this together.
Here is what would have worked: a singer like Mark Storace or Steven Tyler who represents the same or similar values and is so engaged with his own band that he clearly is only a guest singer. An announcement together with Brian Johnson.
That chance was missed.
Is there anything else they can do now?
- Fly in Brian Johnson to Lisbon, have him go on stage and open the show by explaining the situation and introducing Axl personally as a guest vocalist for only this year.
- Make sure Axl doesn’t leave the stage during Have A Drink On Me.
Part 1 is not going to happen. Part 2…