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Artwork for group's forthcoming album apparently inspired by bike component brand's packaging...

One of the British cycling industry's oldest brands, Sturmey-Archer, has accused Leeds-based post-punk band The Kaiser Chiefs of "blatantly copying" its logo and packaging design for the cover of its forthcoming album, as well as for its revamped website. The band says it wanted to "pay homage to the legacy of Sturmey Archer" and it did not intend to upset the company.

As the picture above shows, there do appear to be striking similarities between the artwork for the Sturmey-Archer packaging and that for the album Education, Education, Education & War, which will be released next month.

What some might see as an affectionate tribute to a brand with more than 110 years of history behind it hasn't gone down well at Sturmey-Archer, however. Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking their first reaction on learning of the album cover was, "Oh my God, I can't believe it."

The now Taiwanese-owned company's general manager, Alan Clarke, said: "I have worked for the company for more than 40 years and I have never known anything quite as blatant as this.

"We are used to this sort of thing from backstreet suppliers but did not expect it from such a big band.

"They did not even contact us up front and they have not responded to questions posed since we were alerted by customers."

He added: "A customer has suggested that the band should be re-named Kaiser Thiefs - which might not be grammatically correct but does reflect how we now feel."

In a statement sent to road.cc, the band said: "The lyrics of our new album Education, Education, Education & War look into Britain's past and our designer has deliberately created artwork that references Britain's Heritage.

"We hoped to pay homage to the legacy of Sturmey Archer and by using this design we did not expect, nor did we intend to upset them."

From Andy Warhol's Brillo Box scupltures and Campbell's Soup tin paintings through to album covers such as Procul Harum's A Salty Dog, inspired by the design of Player's Navy Cut cigarettes, artists have long taken inspiration from the world of commerce, and even cinema.

The process works in reverse, too, with advertisers often borrowing from art to plug their wares - in 2005, Nike apologised to Washington DC punk band Minor Threat and its record label after the sportswear giant publicised a skateboarding tour with a poster that lifted text and imagery from a 1981 album cover.

Album covers and the like clearly inspired by something else tend to be viewed as a "pastiche," defined by Oxford Dictionaries as "an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period," and such artwork deemed as fair use.

Nor are Kaiser Chiefs the first band to have been inspired by bicycle componentry - the name of 1990s indie dance band Campag Velocet [sic] was inspired by the Campagnolo Veloce groupset.

Kaiser Chiefs' own name was taken from the South African football club Kaizer Chiefs, where former Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe had started his career.

Tribute, homage, pastiche or blatant rip-off - let us know your favourites from the world of music and beyond in the comments below, and if there's a cycling link, so much the better.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

45 comments

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gb901 [149 posts] 2 years ago
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I predict a riot - or a least a lawyers tiff!

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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"post-punk band"

Is that just another way of saying Indie Rock....

The Kaiser Chiefs even describe themselves as Indie Rockers...

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johndonnelly [81 posts] 2 years ago
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"Dear Chiefs,

Thank you for the flattery evident in copying our logo in your album art.

Would you consider working with one of our other bicycle manufacturing partners to produce a co-branded bicycle featuring Sturmey Archer parts and appearing in a mutually beneficial photo shoot?

Cheers and thanks for the music,
Sturmey Archer"

That's how this should have gone. I'll bet they went all cease and desist instead.

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

"post-punk band"

Is that just another way of saying Indie Rock....

The Kaiser Chiefs even describe themselves as Indie Rockers...

From short description of their website on Google: "Official site of post punk/art rock band"

(Okay, I left out the "art rock" bit...)

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step-hent [722 posts] 2 years ago
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Limited chance of any legal action - Sturmey Archer have no chance of proving any kind of loss, and so no commercial interest in going to court. It's hardly like people will accidentally buy the album instead of some spares for their 3 speed. But it is a good opportunity for some free publicity, so might as well put out an outraged press release...  41

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mtm_01 [196 posts] 2 years ago
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I tried to buy hub gears and accidentially bought this album, it can happen to anyone!

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Gkam84 wrote:

"post-punk band"

Is that just another way of saying Indie Rock....

The Kaiser Chiefs even describe themselves as Indie Rockers...

From short description of their website on Google: "Official site of post punk/art rock band"

(Okay, I left out the "art rock" bit...)

Ah well, if that is what they call themselves, fair does. I thought it was just an older mannies view  35

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 2 years ago
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Bravo. It's not everyday you see a reference to Campag Velocet.

My particular favourite song from the cannon was 'To Lose La Trek' Possibly a premonition about Mr Armstrong's contractual problems.

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amawby [79 posts] 2 years ago
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Never mind that lot from Leeds, this is the greatest musical reference to Sturmey Archer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92Gx0MEEIYo

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 2 years ago
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Conversation between them:

Kaiser Chiefs: "Thankyou very much" (nicks design)
Sturmey Archer: "Oh my god"
Kaiser Chiefs: "Its the modern way"
Sturmey Archer: "Every day I love you less and less"
Kaiser Chiefs: "Love is not a competition"
Sturmey Archer: "I predict a riot"
Kaiser Chiefs: "Send the angry mob"
Sturmey Archer: "Thats the kinda girl you are"
Kaiser Chiefs: "Na na na na naaa"

I'll get my coat...

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Joselito [160 posts] 2 years ago
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arrieredupeleton wrote:

Bravo. It's not everyday you see a reference to Campag Velocet.

My particular favourite song from the cannon was 'To Lose La Trek' Possibly a premonition about Mr Armstrong's contractual problems.

I've got a 12" by Campag Velocet Van Beethoven.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Wasn't Campag Velocet a Clockwork Orange reference?

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:

Wasn't Campag Velocet a Clockwork Orange reference?

They made reference to Nadsat. See wiki:

Another major influence in the Campag vocabulary and artwork is Nadsat, coined by Anthony Burgess in the book A Clockwork Orange. The single "Drencrom Velocet Synthmesc" uses Nadsat words for recreational drugs, with the text being shown in the opening frame of the Clockwork Orange film.

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Chuck [546 posts] 2 years ago
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It's pretty cheeky but I think SA should have taken a different tack. Isn't there a marketing opportunity they could take here, rather than the opportunity to be perceived as stuffy killjoys?

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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if they didn't want to upset them then they should have asked first.

I suspect they just nicked a design they liked and couldn't give a monkeys about Sturmey Archer's heritage or paying homage to it. But when spotted decided that IP theft could be passed off as complement.

BTW has anyone got a sturmey archer 3 speed anymore. I was telling my son that bikes used to have hub gears and 3 speeds. He looked at me like I was making it up.

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vbvb [597 posts] 2 years ago
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johndonnelly wrote:

"Dear Chiefs...
...That's how this should have gone. I'll bet they went all cease and desist instead.

Quite a few blame-the-victim posts here. Seems to me "Dear Sturmey Archer" is how it should have gone. The Kaisers ought to have asked permission or made their own retro logo. They wouldn't try to bully through a "tribute" to Nike, I suspect. And a Kaiser branded bike would not sell any better than the recent Kaiser albums, I imagine.

Did I read a line about parody or pastiche in the article? Quick google : "UK copyright law currently does not provide for an exception for parody, pastiche or caricature". There's mention of "fair use" in the story too, which is super if the album is getting a US release.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Sturmey Archer? He's the only one to leave Ambridge and get a proper job!

(Apologies to Jack Dee and ISIHAC for that one)

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Maybe they'll backpedal and shift their opinion after all this free publicity

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levermonkey [664 posts] 2 years ago
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There is no such thing as bad publicity. Just bad PR and media management.

Count up the column inches, grab your advertisers digest, work out how much it would have cost you, wet yourself with excitement at the free advertising.

Word of advice to Sturmey Archer - DON'T F*****G BLOW IT!!!

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mingmong [260 posts] 2 years ago
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Album Tracks (3)

1. Yellow
2. Blue
3. Red

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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I believe Pedro failed to sue the Delgados back in the day too.

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thegibdog [103 posts] 2 years ago
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Good publicity for Sturmey-Archer. Didn't realise they were still going.

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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thegibdog wrote:

Good publicity for Sturmey-Archer. Didn't realise they were still going.

sunrace bought the name, its made in the Far East now.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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KC people talk with SA people.
Carefully crafted spat.
Spat fed to press.
Brand awareness boosted for both parties.
"Agreement" reached.
Agreement fed to press.
Corporate image boosted for both parties.
More sales all round.
More column inches filled.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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Flying Scot wrote:
thegibdog wrote:

Good publicity for Sturmey-Archer. Didn't realise they were still going.

sunrace bought the name, its made in the Far East now.

And it's rubbish, just like the Kaiser Chiefs.

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
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Surely the bike industry is well ahead of the music biz when it comes to a spot of harmless plagiarism?

Sure there's about another thousand I've missed, too.

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fatbeggaronabike [815 posts] 2 years ago
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I tried the chiefs new album at three different speeds 72, 45 and 16 rpm (explain that to the youngsters) it was still like their previous ones RUBBISH

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Comrade [210 posts] 2 years ago
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Fatbeggar, change gears stick it on 33, thats a winner!

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s.wilderness [11 posts] 2 years ago
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They started their whole career by ripping off the name of a South African football team, so why is anyone surprised? They've always been devoid of originality.

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 2 years ago
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i always preferred maximo park meself

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