Celebrating its relaunch, rock mag Creem airs trippy ad featuring iconic Boy Howdy
Brazen music magazine Creem is back in action after folding in the late 80s. To promote its relaunch, the publication has rolled out an omnichannel ad campaign that centers on the story of its legendary mascot Boy Howdy.
After shuttering in 1989, the irreverent Detroit-based music publication Creem — which formerly billed itself as 'America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine' — has officially relaunched this year. To publicize its return — under the new moniker Creem Entertainment — the publication this week unveiled a wildly weird new ad campaign.
The new spot, created in partnership with independent agency Fable.works (which clinched the account after a pitch earlier this year), features the publication’s iconic mascot Boy Howdy, an illustrated bottle of cream created by cartoonist Robert Crumb. The character was originally introduced in the second issue of Creem in 1969 and appeared in the publication’s pages for some two decades.
Now, the omnichannel campaign, ‘Creem is Risen,’ traces Boy Howdy’s resurrection from death 33 years ago in a wacky, over-the-top adventure. In the anthem spot, the legendary mascot is seen being slain by the Grim Reaper, strutting through the chaotic streets of Detroit and even riding a rocket-powered rendition of the magazine’s most renowned voice, music critic Lester Bangs. He awakes suddenly in a cold sweat — was it all a dream?
“This is for the millions of rock ‘n’ roll fans worldwide, misunderstood, underserved and upset that they get fed a steady diet of nothing from establishment music brands,” said Creem’s chief executive officer John Martin in a statement shared with The Drum. “We are those fans and we’re pissed too. So we wanted to make an insane piece of entertainment to champion the rock ‘n’ roll community — and as a way of putting the usual suspects on notice — their time is up. Creem’s back.”
To bring the spot to life, creatives at Creem and Fable.works teamed with animation studio Lobo and enlisted Human Worldwide for original music and special effects. Uppercut Edit provided editorial assistance. The publication said in a statement that the ad is “laden with bread crumbs that’ll keep fans watching and rewatching to test their rock ‘n’ roll chops.”
The campaign, which debuts this week, seeks to drive subscriptions and raise brand awareness as the magazine returns from its multi-decade hiatus. It will culminate with the publication’s first new issue since its revival, slated to hit shelves in September.
“Agencies often throw around the word ‘dream client,’ but in this case it’s an actual direct hit, right in the feels, for everyone involved,” said Fable.works cofounders Rick Williams and Marcel Yunes in a joint statement.
“Creem’s comeback is a moment in music history,” they added.