If you have not yet deleted your copy, be it digital or physical, of Australian DJ duo Yolanda Be Cool’s song “We No Speak Americano,” then front man Andrew Stanley is not going to be pleased with you.
Several months ago, the band had a unique problem. Their global hit—and we’re talking total sensation; the thing was on the charts for two years—was huge. It spawned 1,000 remixes and parodies around the world. It was inescapable in dance clubs, on the radio, playing in the background on TV shows. The only thing was, as ubiquitous as the song was—no one knew the band. And with a new album launching this year, that was an untenable situation.
“Their song was a bigger brand than their brand,” says fellow Aussie Anthony “Mossy” Moss, managing partner and group creative director at NYC full-service shop Gotham. “The boys had a worldwide smash song, but no one knew it was theirs.”
And then inspiration struck: A global “recall” of “We No Speak Americano,” the crux of which would be a “serious” video shot to mimic a news conference. Stanley and band mate Sylvester Martinez and their “lawyer” would ascend a dais and, after much shuffling of papers and clearing of throats, soberly inform the gathered audience of journalists and concerned citizens that all copies of “We No Speak Americano” should be immediately destroyed for, as Stanley with stony mien told those gathered, “the beats are no longer fresh.” (Grumbles and shocked murmurs.) But not to worry—having deleted the offending tune, the band would offer a free download from its new album “Ladies and Mentalmen” to replace it.
At one point in the video, Stanley and Martinez chastises the crowd for abuses against “We No Speak Americano.” He plays a home video clip on YouTube of a cat dancing to the song. He shakes his head wearily. “
“It was never meant to be like this…we didn’t make music for cats to dance to,” says Martinez in the video, as Stanley shakes his head, lamenting, “That cat’s not even dancing in time to the music.”
Take a gander.
“It was ballsy; the whole project was ballsy,” says Moss. “And if someone gets annoyed, that plays into our hands even better. If someone comments on Facebook, ‘How dare you! I love that song. I’ll never delete it,’ then we still win.”
And Stanley says he was more than ready to retire “Americano.”
“If you loved the song when it first came out, you aren’t going to like it when you have heard it one million times on radio and you have TV personalities like the Jersey Shore guys doing a dance to it and posting it online,” he says.
The only point of contention between Gotham and the band was whether or not to include the phrase “the beats are no longer fresh” in the script. At first, the band didn’t like it—Stanley and Martinez thought it wasn’t the kind of thing a cool DJ would ever say—but Moss and his team won out and Stanley says he’s happy he conceded.
“It sounds like something your dad who has no idea about music would say, but as it turns out, it makes perfect sense for the lawyer to say it,” says Stanley, a former adman himself. “It’s almost so uncool it became the coolest line in the clip.”
The campaign results so far speak for themselves. Between mid-October and the end of November page views on the Yolanda Be Cool website went up by 11,000 and YouTube views of the video topped 104,000. The free Ladies and Mentalmen song was downloaded 6,615 times.
But most importantly, the campaign brought in more than 20,000 news likes on Facebook. In the DJ world, Facebook fans equals money. Musicians at festivals get paid on a sliding scale based on how many Facebook fans they have. Talk about social currency.
Gotham is hoping to keep the campaign alive with further iterations down the line, like sending out a task force to track down every last remaining copy of the song or announcing that there’s only one copy of “We No Speak Americano” left in the world and then putting it on eBay for $30,000 as a collector’s item of music history.
For now, the boys continue to fight the good fight. As they posted to their Facebook page in October: “‘Hey Guys—WE NEED YOUR HELP. Leaving Amsterdam yesterday after an awesome ADE, Americano came on the radio…which means there are still copies out there. Please help us spread this far and wide. ALL copies need to be deleted.”