Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Selling Songs to TV Ads a Sellout? Nah!!

Remember the uproar around 1989 or so, when "Revolution" was used to sell Nike shoes? The audacity to use the sacred John Lennon song to sell footwear! At long last, do they have no decency?

Phooey, I say! The artists have the right to make money on their songs anyway they want (ok, the Beatles didn't have the coice in their case, but still)- they (should) control the meaning and the purity, not the listeners! I am sure Pete Townshend would give a similar (but more ascerbic and expletive-laden) answer if asked about his songs being used for the CSI themes, or to sell allergy meds or cars (these latter two both excerpted from the sacred Tommy rock opera!). Better yet, Bob Dylan's recent pitch for Victoria's Secret using "Sick of Love" as a come-on may have seemed weird (ok: creepy and stomach churning, since he appeared in the ads), but I smile at the fact it probably torqued off the 8 remaining people who thought he should still matter to the folk music scene.

More encouraging is that many ad makers are getting very creative when putting music to their pitches. I thought I had discovered my own little band for myself when I took to The Shazam. At first, I was upset that one of their songs had been chosen for a Coors Light commercial. But then, why not? And kudos for the ad agency for actually doing some work to find some different songs to use.

And even better-- HP's use of, first The Cure's "Pictures of You" and then The Kinks' "Picture Book" (from the brilliant Village Green Preservation Society album) to promote their digital photo printing products was a great use of those tunes.

Any other favorites out there?


At 7:15 PM, Blogger Adam Zand said...

Similar feelings as you, starting with the Nike's "Revolution" (wasn't their revolution paying third-world populations squat and then charging urban/suburban youth over $100 for crap high tops?), but agree with all of the ones that you reference. In the last few years, I've accepted this usage and also salute creative agencies that really like music like Arnold (Nick Drake's surviving family thanks VW for the amazing "Pink Moon" convertible ad and how funny was their Trio "Da Da Da" or even "Mr. Roboto" work). In a sick way, I'm glad Joe Strummer's family is making some money from Jaguar, Stoli and now Pontiac on his vocals/songwriting with the Clash. (On a side note, a Clash song "Koka Kola" was partially responsible for me not going into an advertising career). I'm also liking the Mitsubishi ads that have Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge" - yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah ...

At 11:59 AM, Blogger AGirard said...

interesting fact from an insider- bob dylan made a cd "exclusively" for victoria's secret and it is now on sale for $1.99

At 12:28 PM, Blogger The Optimist said...

Hmm, nothing says women's unmentionables like a 70 year old creepy folk singer. That is just weird.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Tom F said...

Remember when Sting did those cheesy Jaguar ads? All I could think was, "You're already a gazillionaire, so I hope you're giving this money to charity."

When I lived in Japan from 1988 to 1990 (Scary how long ago that is, now.) I saw a number of ads featuring American celebrities who didn't want to tarnish their images by doing ads in the U.S., but made big bucks doing it Japan.

Arnold Scharzenegger (Sorry, can't spell his last name.) did some ads for these "Power Sports Drinks," and for ramen noodles. Tom Skerrit (He's a character actor you'd recognize more by face than by name.) did this really cool whiskey ad. He was playing an acoustic guitar, doing that bar room gimmick when the player puts a shot glass on his finger and slides it up and down the frets. He was wearing faded blue jeans and a loose-fitting beige linen shirt. The image conveyed was pure American cool. That was a good one. Sting was also doing ads in Japan at that time, but I can't remember what products he was marketing.

Also in Japan, there were these geeky Americans who had no celebrity status at home, but had become media celebrities in Japan. They were always nerdy-looking Americans with blonde hair, blue eyes and thick glasses. There were several very popular ones that you could see on various talk and variety shows. They spoke perfectly fluent Japanese, which to most Japanese people is considered a bit freakish, which is one of the reasons why these geeks attracted attention. They often participated in cartoonish pranks and did ads for snack foods and sweets with goofy background music - kind of carnival-like a la Danny Elfman's compositions for the Pew Wee Herman and Tim Burton movies. Lots of close-up shots of this "Hen na Gaijin" (strange foreigner) scrunching his face up and mugging for the camera.

What fun!


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