What an exciting 24 hours it must've been for fans of H&M and fans of fake metal bands. Yesterday, we reported on a suspicious new promotions company that popped up advertising bands who only previously appeared as patches on new H&M clothing designs. At the time, we assumed this was a viral campaign set up by the clothing retail giant, but some things didn't add up… namely that some of these bands were affiliated with some neo-nazi imagery, which seems like something a big retailer would be against. However, the attention to detail was so good that it had to come from somebody with good working knowledge of the metal scene. At the time, the only musician to publicly comment on the matter was Henri Sorvali of Finntroll and Moonsorrow.
Last night, Strong Scene Promotions, the company that was releasing all these fake songs basically admitted this was all a giant "art project" and that H&M were in no way involved.
Yesterday, we speculated that this entire fake band hoax was not commissioned by H&M but rather a response to H&M thinking they could just slap a few logos with similar aesthetics on there and it would be fine. Turns out that's exactly what happened.
Noisey was able to reach out to Henri Sorvali, who had no problem admitting he and a few friends were behind the hoax:
Okay, real talk, Henri – do any of the bands on Strong Scene Productions actually exist?
No. Every single band was created on the basis of the patches in the H&M spring collection clothes.
Is this a backlash against the commodification of metal by high street retailers?
Partially, yes. But we also wanted to point out the fact that you cannot commercialise a subculture without actually knowing all the different aspects of it. Knowledge on your product is essential in marketing, and Strong Scene supports self-awareness and education for everyone on the matter. And no, I also haven't been hired for a job by H&M either, which the wildest rumors claimed!
This all seems like a lot of effort just to troll H&M. So the real question is, why bother?
The purpose of the group (consisting of literally tens of people from different areas of music and media around Scandinavia) was to create discussion on the fact that metal culture is more than just "cool" looking logos on fashionable clothes, and has many more aesthetic and ideological aspects in different subgenres than what some corporations are trying to express. The metal scene is varied, controversial and a sort of a wolf you can't chain into a leash and expect it to behave on your terms like a dog. Strong Scene as a collective has absolutely no political nor ideological intentions, and is only bringing the conversation to the level it should be discussed at. Think of us as the one-time "Yes Men" of metal music.
I guess this is a great lesson for corporate brands. If you chose to co-opt metal for fashion, there might be a little blowback from some people in the know.
How do you feel about this hoax? Are these guys culture jamming? Or did this whole thing just end up being a giant amount of free publicity for H&M?