What Up, Torpedo?

Is Hurra Torpedo real?

The Norwegian band has been getting a lot of attention in cyberspace lately, and a film about them is the most viewed clip at www.ifilm.com. There’s mention of the group on the blogosphere and at The Onion’s Web site. An online sweepstakes contest offers to give away the car the band drove during its recent, and first, U.S. tour.

But is it possible that the group of three guys in blue jumpsuits playing kitchen appliances is real?

That’s the question Monterey International Inc.‘s Kevin Daly wanted answered. He e-mailed back and forth with other agents. Some said, “Yes, it’s a real band.” Others said, “Don’t get fooled. It’s a spoof band created by an ad agency.”

But Nikki Sweet recently booked Hurra Torpedo at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. Which leads to another burning question: Who the heck called her to book the show? If the band really does shows, does it already have a U.S. agent, or could this still be a potential Monterey client?

A band from Norway visiting the U.S. for the first time would normally be no big thing, but when the death of a stove and a deep freezer come out of a remake of Bonnie Tyler‘s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” people start talking.

Visiting the band’s Web site, www.hurratorpedo.com, muddies the line of reality even further. It’s filled with video clips of the group’s first U.S. tour. The first gig turns out to be a children’s birthday party. Another gig is at a steakhouse in Texas.

One video shows the members discussing touring strategy with their “manager” Ted Frazzelblatt – who brings out a ridiculously large chart.

“This is a three-tiered plan with a couple of ancillary tiers so it’s actually four subsets of three tiers,” he tells the band. “You step down gradually to these boxes which loop around and coalesce with parties – both virtual parties and successful parties.”

Their booking agent is Gabe Frazzelblatt (Ted’s uncle) who has a real Web site – www.frazzelacts.com – where Hurra’s technical rider can be downloaded (backline includes two toasters), and a toll-free phone number where Frazzelblatt’s amusing answering machine message says he’s out of the office.

Is this real?

Enough. The answer is yes. The band is quite real. It’s booked for next year’s Øyafestival in Norway. It has a real manager – Mads Martinsen of Pilot Management AS, which is also a booking agency.

“People are amazed to find out the band’s been around for 12 years,” Martinsen told Pollstar from his Norway office. Hurra Torpedo is a phenomenon in the country.

The band had just returned from its U.S., um, “tour.” Martinsen is currently taking offers from U.S. talent agencies that are interested in bringing the band back for the real deal in 2006.

Many of the shows from this last tour, which included an appearance at Memphis’ annual “Hell On Earth” Halloween party, were booked by ad agency J. Walter Thompson for their client Ford Motor Company.

And that is where Hurra Torpedo – the band – ends, and Hurra Torpedo – the myth – begins.

JWT is responsible for Frazzelblatt’s Web site. The car that can be won in the sweepstakes is a Ford Fusion and it’s featured prominently on the band’s Web site. Ford Car Communications Manager Linda Perry-Lube told Pollstar the company decided to work with Hurra Torpedo after gaining inspiration from the Fusion Flash summer concert tour.

This online ad campaign is different from other quirky promos like Internet icon “Super Greg” – a dorky DJ who turned out to be created as part of a marketing campaign for Lee Jeans.

“We wanted someone real and the story to be real, then to write a really engaging story around that,” Perry-Lube said. “Part of the story is they’re brought over here by this really awful booking agent. That storyline and idea was written into the film.”

Hurra Torpedo was picked because the band was what is known to cyber-geeks as a “meme” or “viral.” The “Total Eclipse” video – a live 1995 appearance on a Norway television show – was making the rounds online. It fit well with the a campaign geared toward the target audience for the Ford Fusion, namely Generation X.

“We looked at a few other bands, but clearly this was the right one.”

The group was brought to the U.S. and did a film and tour. A band member told Pollstar the film used live footage from actual gigs, coupled with improvisation and scripted scenes.

“We are still in the middle of quote-unquote ‘the campaign,'” Perry-Lube said. “We’re still adding episodes on MySpace and [the band’s Web site].”

Hurra may return to the U.S. for a larger tour or public appearances. Ford and JWT haven’t decided where this whole thing is heading yet.

“We have not found on blogs or anything that people are bashing us or saying this is a marketing ploy. To this point, I think there is no one who’s saying that. We’re pretty proud that it’s coming across as genuine,” Perry-Lube said.

– Joe Reinartz