Band hopes bus song is just the ticket

IT'S THE kind of free advertising most managing directors can only dream about: a single by a trendy, arty band, singing exclusively about your company. It's all come right for National Express, the transport company, which has been immortalised in a new song by Neil Hannon and his band, The Divine Comedy.

"Take the National Express when your life's in a mess" goes the opening line to the cheery single. It continues: "On the National Express there's a jolly hostess/ Selling crisps and tea/ She'll provide you with drinks and theatrical winks..."

Last week, Hannon explained his affection for the company, saying: " `National Express' [the single's title] is an observation of life. There is every walk of life on these buses. And also it's a little light relief at the halfway point of the album."

The song, on the band's new album, Fin de Siecle, was being played last week at the announcement of the company's interim reports (profits up 43 per cent to pounds 34.4m for the first half of the year), and journalists were being offered free copies.

The single itself won't be released until mid-January, but National Express Ltd, the division of the company that runs the coach operation, is poised to take full advantage. "It's almost certain that we will be buying them for staff and promotion purposes," said Kevin Bennett, the director of marketing.

Given that more than 10,000 people are employed across the National Express Group, the tune - already receiving ample airplay on radio - will probably be widely whistled throughout Britain's coach depots.

"We are talking to the record label Setanta about how they would like to work with us on the video for the single and its packaging," says Mr Bennett. "The student market, which is vital for the music industry, is also important to National Express, so that's a great affinity for us.

"The lyrics are light-hearted, it's a catchy tune; and what with it being on the radio a lot at the moment it's very good for us, especially now as students are going back to college."

But the mass purchase of the single in January won't distort the charts, apparently. A spokesperson for the Chart Information Network, which compiles the charts, said: "The record label would inform us of this sort of occurrence. Also, the charts are calculated in the retail area, each barcode being registered as a single is sold. If anyone tries a mass buyout, we would spot the irregularities as a distortion of national sales patterns."

A number one hit normally has to sell many more copies than the 10,000 figure of National Express's workforce: typically a chart-topper sells between 70,000 and 160,000.

Pop history has a number of singles immortalising products and companies. Janis Joplin pleaded "Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?", Madonna did her "Vogue", and Catatonia cashed in on The X Files' popularity with "Mulder and Scully".

But such singles aren't without their legal wrangles: Aqua's "Barbie Girl" landed them in trouble with the manufacturers of the doll, and - most famously - The Kinks had to change their Coca-Cola line in "Lola" to "cherry cola" to avoid using the brand name.

In the case of National Express and The Divine Comedy, however, the song looks set to be mutually beneficial. As the lyrics say: "Don't just sit there feeling stressed/ Take a trip on the National Express."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific