Epiphone Ads Find Inner Chord

Core attempts to express the raw emotion felt by electric guitar players in its first work for Epiphone, a print campaign that breaks in March.

Ads show guitarists playing different types of music, with copy that expresses the often semi-articulated emotions that playing brings.

” ‘I can’t tell you, but I can play it for you’ was pretty much the recurring theme of every musician I talked to,” said Wade Paschall, the copywriter for the spots.

“I can’t tell you but I can play it for you” is the headline for one print ad that shows a skinny young man playing his Epiphone. Copy for other ads takes a stream-of-consciousness approach. “Sermon of sound, take it to the people, light up the strings, burn the house down,” says copy over an alternative country guitarist.

“The gist of the lines was to approach [musicians] in their language, which is more lyrical,” said Eric Tilford, creative director at the St. Louis agency and art director for the campaign.

“Neurons fire cold down the spine up the neck punctured with staccato teeth,” reads copy in the electronica-oriented ad.

Core won the ad account of the division of Gibson Musical Instruments in August, shortly after the Nashville, Tenn., company awarded its Gibson USA brand to Carmichael Lynch. CL’s work is forthcoming.

Epiphone guitars are priced lower than Gibson’s, making it a more accessible brand for beginner and mid-range players, or those who just want to crank on the instrument without worrying about the finish, Core executives said.

The ads were unveiled at the National Association of Music Merchants Show, and will first appear in magazines such as Guitar World and Guitar One, as well as Spin and ESPN Magazine. Spending was not disclosed.

Going beyond enthusiast magazines is an effort to broaden the audience for Epiphone instruments, as is the campaign’s use of musical genres including electronica and punk, Tilford said. K

“We could have gone down a straight blues or jazz path, but those are areas where Epiphone is already strong,” Tilford said. K