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.


American Perv-parel

OK, American Apparel. I've had all I can stand and I can't stands no more. I'm sick of opening up my city's free weeklies and seeing some chick's ass in a houndstooth thong leotard all up in my face. I just want to find out what's going on in Cowtown this weekend. I don't want to see crack and pubes. At least not that early in the morning.

For the record, I've never entered an American Apparel store or spent any of my heard-earned money there. And, yes, this makes me feel morally superior. When AA first appeared in Cowtown several years ago, I admit I was mildly curious. What was this new store in town that sells gold lame hot pants and terrycloth wristbands? And why does their advertising showcase these outfits in a somewhat porny manner? Just who is American Apparel?

Then, I saw a show about AA and I was exposed for the first time to the man behind the lame and terrycloth: Dov Charney.

Now, I've mentioned Dov on this blog before—he was one of the illustrious 13 Biggest Douchebags of 2009 (congrats!), a title that I can tell you now he's going to maintain in 2010. The hammer is starting to come down on this guy, but let me first tell you why that will be so deliciously satisfying.

Dov refers to himself as a "hustler" and seems to fancy himself this visionary sultan of sleaze. He screws his employees. He hires "real people" who are (or look like) 12-year-olds to pose provocatively in neon spandex for ads. He's had about a gazillion sexual harassment suits filed against him. He regularly jacks off in front of his female employees and reporters. He peddles mesh jumpsuits. You get the idea...

Anyway, it's been known for years that AA requires wannabe-employees to submit photos with their applications—a head shot and a full body shot. They regularly turn down people who don't have the "right look" to work at AA. Which translates to: you won't be selling tie-dye lace bodysuits and purple velour rompers because you don't look like (a.) one of The Strokes, or (b.) a picture on a paedo's computer.

Gawker and Jezebel have been regularly reporting on the looksism going on behind the scenes at AA and the shit is really starting to hit the fan. Disgruntled former employees are coming out of the woodwork with internal documents that detail the rigid appearance standards Dov requires of his minions. Don't wear crop tops unless you're the width of a cocktail sword! Don't wear gladiator sandals! Do wear booties! Don't wax your eyebrows! Paint your nails day-glo orange! No nose rings! Etc., ad nauseum. (Based on their advertising, I'm curious about their stance on camel toe. Good or bad? Required??)

Even creepier, Dov requires each store to take a monthly group photo and send it to the higher-ups so they can monitor and judge what everyone looks like and what they're wearing and weed out those who are "off-brand."

The ironic thing about this whole sordid fiasco is that Dov himself is the very definition of "off-brand." He looks like a combination of photographer Terry Richardson (another notable creeper), a '70s-era porn star, Crazy Harry from The Muppet Show and the wad of hair I recently fished out of my bathtub drain. At what brand would this look be on?

I want this guy to go down. Immediately. People, stop buying basic tees at this hellhole. I know you think they're great, but do you really want your hard-earned dollars to support Mr. Hairy Crotchshot? Exploitation! Discrimination! Bad fashion! These are crimes we need to take seriously. For christ sakes, this is a store that includes John McEnroe shorts and fucking sateen Hammer pants as staples! I drove by there the other day and they had high-waist leggings on the mannequins in the windows. HIGH-WAIST LEGGINGS. Who would buy that?? Nobody in their right mind could possibly want to wear half this stuff, even i they were buying it for an early '90s-themed party.

Come on, y'all—please join me in a boycott of Dov and his hot-pink manties with green piping. I won't judge you if you've shopped at AA, but I will judge you if you went there because you just had to have a stretch floral lace mini-dress. If Color Me Badd isn't involved, that is off-brand everywhere.