Behind the Web Site That Works's wicked humor and winning strategy's Simon Assad (l) and David Carson's Simon Assad (l) and David Carson

The Trojan ads are the first thing you see on Heavy's "Behind the Music That Sucks," the hot cartoon parody of VH1's "Behind the Music" featured on (UGO for UnderGroundOnline). Click on the playlist and up pops a window on which floats an image of a sumo wrestler, Heavy's trademark. The bar below the wrestler is where the Trojan Company proclaims that you can "get a free sample" of their premium latex product. Since UGO calls itself a "mecca for 18- to 34-year-old men," no surprise there -- what's a male hegira without its French ticklers? The ads do underscore the attitude behind Heavy's runaway hit. Imagine a satiric, media-addled teen given a year's worth of People magazines, scissors, and Flash software, and the results would be much like "Behind the Music That Sucks."

Here's what is funny: Jennifer Lopez has a big ass. Courtney Love is a controlling bitch. David Hasselhoff starred in Baywatch. Sometimes the humor is inspired, as when a young but very budding Mariah Carey tries out for a Christian cartoon network. Sometimes the joke is that females have big breasts. Cartoon jiggling is big on "Behind the Music That Sucks."

Heavy is that rare oxymoron, a profitable Net entertainment company. This has made David Carson and Simon Assaad, the company's chief execs, extremely cocky. "When we started Heavy, we were considered freaks," says Assad. "Our mantra back then was not to spend money. We had a lot of money before we took VC money. Interestingly, the first business plan we came up with is the one we have today." Carson adds, "When we started out, during the bubble, everybody seemed to be crazy."

Assaad came to New York nine years ago from Australia. "I have a background in independent filmmaking. I was making a movie, Closeup, and David was working with the guy who was my music composer."

They partnered. "We worked for a creative boutique," Carson says. "The deal was, we'd come in with this very goofy stuff and scare the client, right, so that they'd go for the straighter pitch the company wanted them to go for. It was good cop, bad cop in advertising terms. But then the goofy stuff started to sell."

The two made a mark with their Internet ads for Ogilvy & Mather's IBM e-business account. It won numerous awards and attracted attention to the creative duo. So they took the profits from their advertising efforts and, in September 1999, launched "The launch of Heavy is what I'm proudest of," Assaad remarks. "When we started, nobody thought of the Internet as a broadcast medium."

Heavy's site is home to Heavy radio, which broadcasts music, too. Reportedly, the site gets 800,000 hits a day. This gets through to even the most brainless suit at Polygram. The labels love Heavy.

"We launched Fatboy Slim. We launched the Chemical Brothers," Assaad claims. Carson adds, "We try to focus on music that fits well with the brand. The Hives, a Swedish band, we're very interested in them right now. So we are going to play the hell out of them."

Assaad and Carson are naturally pleased that Heavy is on the way to becoming a subculture shibboleth. "I was in Australia a couple of months ago, wearing a Heavy T-shirt," Assaad says. Two guys stopped me on the street and said, 'you know Heavy!' That was very cool." end story

Heather Gold, founder of, will interview co-founders Simon Assaad and David Carson in a keynote conversation on "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Listening to Bankers" on Monday, March 11, 2:15pm.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

SXSW Panel: The War at Home: Trump and the Mainstream Media
The War at Home: Trump and the Mainstream Media
How to report and consume news under siege from the White House

Michael King, March 16, 2017

SXSW Taps FBI Director James Comey
SXSW Taps FBI Director James Comey
FBI chief will discuss privacy and cybersecurity at March fest

Chase Hoffberger, Jan. 26, 2017

More Screens
Pressing the Flesh
Pressing the Flesh
The world's leading adult toy manufacturer for men wants to take the stigma out of sex

Dan Solomon, May 11, 2012

Get Schooled
Get Schooled
James Franco-produced Web series tracks UT Film students

Kimberley Jones, April 13, 2012

More by Roger Gathman
Nellie Blog
Nellie Blog
Why modern-day muckraker Ana Marie Cox couldn't care less about her critics – or even, at times, her audience

March 4, 2005

State of Affairs
State of Affairs
The current political season is reflected equally in an angry Iraq analysis and a soapy novel with a Sirkian sweep

Oct. 22, 2004

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY, Behind the Music That Sucks, David Carson, Simon Assaad, SXSW Interactive

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle