Rolling Stones roll out European tour

The world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band re-opened its sexagenarian European tour in Milan this week. The tour, which will net the group over $100 million Euros, hearkens to much more than the ritual rock concert romp.

Because as everyone knows, the Rolling Stones are the planet’s primal brand. They discovered early on what an associate in the rock world acknowledges. “It’s not just about having the hit song,” she declared over dinner. “It’s having the total package.”

With each member now aged over sixty, Mick Jagger and The Stones have watched other groups come and go. And after 40 years, this tour proves they still have the package.

Part of the reason for The Stones’ overwhelming success (a process that can be likened to the marketing equivalent of releasing a VW Beetle, iPod or Netflix every 24 months–a performance rate that would make most marketers wet their pants) can be attributed to having full-fledged pieces of primal code.

The creation story for The Rolling Stones is a group of British lads playing American Delta blues, who copped their name from a Muddy Waters song.

The creed. The image of iconoclastic youth, even from the beginning The Stones were the flip side of The Beatles. If John, Paul, George and Ringo were the bright. faced lads from Liverpool, Mick, Keith, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman were the dark side. While The Beatles wanted to hold your hand, The Stones wanted to spend the night together.

The icons for The Stones are legendary. Mick’s face, Mick’s lips, Mick’s trademark swagger epitomized The Stones for generations. Keith Richards also stepped to the front as the aged stoner and is a band icon. Other bands have front men, but this group took their image a step further, that lips and tongue Licker icon that has been the group’s trademark for over 30 years. Like Kiss’ trademark painted faces and The Grateful Dead bear, The Licker transcends the music itself and adds a layer of meaning not unlike logos for VW, Apple and Pepsi.

And ask any album collector: Rolling Stones album (and CD) covers are incredibly iconic.

Rituals. The tours. The album (and now CD and DVD) releases. Purchasing tickets to all of the above events, and of course, the rites at the concert itself.

Sacred words? The set list for the concert in Munich tonight says it all. Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It’s Only Rock’n’Roll. Let’s Spend The Night Together. All Down The Line. Streets Of Love. Angie. Tumbling Dice. Night Time Is The Right Time. This Place Is Empty. Before They Make Me Run. Miss You. Rough Justice. Start Me Up. Honky Tonk Woman. Sympathy For The Devil. Paint It Black. Brown Sugar. You Can’t Always Get What You Want (encore). Satisfaction (encore).

Other sacred words include The Stones and all the other song lyrics, interviews and reviews in Rolling Stone magazine (a name also taken from Muddy). And the tour’s slogan, The Bigger Bang.

Nonbelievers. In the 1960s, the nonbelievers were parents and their Lawrence Welk mores. In 2006, nonbelievers are kids listening to hip hop and Christina Aguilera. And, of course, people who prefer Neil Diamond.

The leader? Definitely Mick.

The sum of these seven pieces of primal code is not merely the longest-lasting rock band on seven continents. The group has amassed a brand worth billions of dollars. Their A Bigger Bang tour led all other concert tours in 2005 with $162 million in gross receipts, (a grand total even bigger than U2’s gross).

The European leg of the world tour, which rehearsed in Milan, was delayed by Keith’s much-publicized fall from a coconut tree in April–and Ron Wood’s less-publicized stint in rehab.

But that’s just rock’n’roll. And, if we know anything about The Stones, they like it.

[Primal Branding is a construct that lets you design a belief system using the seven pieces of primal code: creation story, creed, icons, rituals, sacred words, nonbelievers, and leader. Used together these seven pieces of code create a system of belief that attracts brand communities and public appeal for products and services, personalities, political and social movements, even civic communities.]

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