13 worst uses of rock in commercials
Advertising agencies are fucking stupid. The evidence is in our faces for at least seven minutes of every half-hour of television we watch. What's most infuriating is blatant cluelessness about the music that's used to illustrate a product.
Behind every dumbass commercial is some fatcat telling the marketing minions that he/she heard about this cool song that really might speak to the kiddies like, for example, "All You Need Is Love" and wouldn't that be perfect to use in our new commercial for Luvs diapers? Get it?? Love = Luvs!
"But boss," the minions say. "That's a classic song that the legendary and beloved John Lennon wrote as an inspired simple message to be understood by all cultures and nationalities."
"Fuck that!" Big Boss says, slamming a chubby fist down on the conference room table. "This song is perfect for telling people what diaper to use to catch their baby's rancid shit! MAKE IT HAPPEN!"
And so it goes in advertising boardrooms across America. And speaking of rancid shit, check out these 13 sad examples of horrid usage of rock n' roll in advertising.
13. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" for KFC
Because the K in KFC doesn't stand for Alabama.
12. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" for Busch
Imagine writing a song in honor of your beloved grandmother who has just passed away and the valuable life advice she bestowed on you while she was living. Now imagine your grandmother's legacy being visually illustrated by a bottle opener prying the cap off of a bottle of cheap, watered-down beer, a horse rearing up in front of a snow-covered mountain and a breathy disembodied voice gasping, "Busssschhhhhhh." OK, you're right...it's actually pretty awesome.
11. Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says" for Jack Daniel's
When I kick back with a nice refreshing fifth of JD, I like to think about the simple pleasures in life: good friends, good music, good liquor and good old-fashioned prostitution. And heroin addiction. Ahh, good times...
10. The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" for Nissan Maxima
Whoever thought it was a good idea to use a Smiths song in any commercial does not deserve to live. This example is particularly embarrassing. According to this ad, the Nissan Maxima offers 45 square feet of leather, seven Bose stereo speakers and zero cars like it. But according to the song, if you drive this car to a club in the hopes of meeting someone cool, you're just going to end up standing alone, leaving alone and going home to cry and consider suicide.
9. Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers" for E*Trade
What is the opposite of "sticking it to the man"? A song with the lyrics "One generation got old / One generation got sold / This generation got no destination to hold" being used to advertise online stock trading and investing. To make matters worse, E*Trade is the same company that makes those hideous talking baby ads. The newest one has two infants taking a red-eye home from a bachelor party in Vegas. Do I need to say more? I hope not, because I'm about to throw my Putey out the window.
8. Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" for Old Navy
"I want Christmas to come early!" "I want khakis, cords and cargos for $15!" "I want a 14-year-old to sing about blowing a guy she just met at the beach!" "Yaaaaaaay, we got everything we wanted at Old Navy!"
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" for Wrangler Jeans
The usage of "Fortunate Son" in a commercial that seems to be about patriotism is the perfect example how out of touch stodgy advertising execs are with reality. However, to their credit, Wrangler stopped using the song in the commercial when John Fogerty expressed his displeasure with his anti-war song being used to shill pants. Who the hell wears Wrangler jeans anymore anyway? I didn't even know they were still being made!
6. Cat Stevens' "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" for T-Mobile
This one holds a special place in my craw because Harold & Maude is one of my favorite movies. The song is played when Maude is encouraging Harold to embrace life and says, "Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." That's not necessarily what I think of when I see Whoopi Goldberg, Phil Jackson, Jesse James and a slew of former SNL castmembers showing me what awesome things they can do with fucking smartphone apps. Because they're all making asses out of themselves and I'm judging them a hell of a lot.
5. Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" for Cadillac
When I was growing up Caddys were the cars rich, white, old people drove. The were huge, boat-like vehicles that gave you the weird sensation of floating down the street like you were in a hovercraft. Now, suddenly, the kids think Caddys are cool. Apparently, the company is now running with that and trying to appeal to them with devil music. Too bad the song they chose isn't actually about music at all. Oldsters: "Been a long time since I rock n' roll" is Satan's code for "been a long time since I've gotten some ass." In other words, the back seat of your cars aren't seeing as much action as an '84 Camero. Sorry. But it does give the tagline "Break through" a whole new meaning.
4. The Beatles' "Revolution" for Nike
In 1987, Michael Jackson gave Nike the right to use The Beatles' anthem about political upheaval in the late '60s in a commercial about shoes. To illustrate the cluelessness behind this travesty, the line "When you're talking 'bout destruction" plays over footage of John McEnroe throwing a temper tantrum. The surviving Beatles sued and settled out-of-court; Yoko approved; Me Generation wins.
3. Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" for Mercedes Benz
This commercial is the ultimate in irony: a song written about materialism and consumerist culture that places too much emphasis on labels and status symbols used to advertise the very label-whore status symbol it derides. The British version I've linked to here shows a whole world of average joes waiting on buses, working on construction jobs, commuting to work, rocking babies to sleep and even herding sheep using the song's "Oh lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz" as an actual prayer to the magical sky fairy to bless their sad little blue-collar lives with an overpriced luxury vehicle.
2. The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" for Pepsi
An ad released in the late '90s featured an animated housefly sipping some spilled Pepsi...and singing a song about whipping and raping black slaves. Nothing more needs to be said about that one.
1. Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life" for Royal Caribbean
Because nothing says family fun on the open seas like a song about shooting up. All aboard the junkie cruise, everyone! Mom's going to go turn a few tricks in the galley and Dad's going to blow the captain on the lido deck to get their fix! Here, little Timmy, have some liquor and drugs and a flesh machine before climbing the rock wall! I'd like to think that Iggy is laughing all the way to the bank, but who knows in an era that saw Dennis Hopper in ads for Ameriprise and the Gap.