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Popular Music Used In Commercials

Stop The Insanity-Hire Someone To Write A Jingle!

Many years ago, in a far away place and time, companies wishing to promote their wares on television would hire songwriters to develop advertising jingles to promote whatever they were selling. But recently, in my mind, some companies have crossed the proverbial line, so to speak, by using classic Beatles’ music to pitch their products.

Am I the only one who is absolutely appalled by the superstore Target using the great Beatles’ classic hit entitled “Hello Goodbye” (although in the commercial they have changed it to “Hello Good Buy,” how clever) to hawk their wares? Couldn’t the corporate big wigs just hire Barry Manilow (who wrote the classic McDonalds’ jingle: “You deserve a break today”) to write a sappy jingle? Just when in my lifetime did the jingle writers become an extinct breed?

However, sadly, this trend has been used over and over again in recent years and there does not seem to be an end of it. Moreover, if I hear the Badfinger song “Come And Get It” (in the advertisement for GMC automobiles), I’ll scream!

When Michael Jackson allowed Nike to abuse the legendary hit by the Beatles’ “Revolution,” it seemed that the floodgates were opened and an advertisement bandwagon was born. But, I am not sure that these companies realize just how many people are offended by their blatant misuse of these classic rock and roll songs. In fact, I will purposely stay away from specific products that are, in my mind, abusing the classic hits from yesteryear.

But, apparently, these starving songwriters (or whoever owns the rights to the music) are being very well compensated for the right to use these classic songs for advertisement purposes. In fact Randy Bachman, formally of the Canadian group the Guess Who and later Bachman-Turner Overdrive, turned down a lucrative offer from a bathroom tissue company to use his song “Takin’ Care Of Business” (how clever) for a television commercial. He did, however, allow the song to be used for an Office Depot commercial, calling the partnership “a perfect marriage.” Bachman also declared, “you make more in one year with that commercial than you do in your entire lifetime of your band in the 70's with that song.” So I guess I can’t blame the artists, if I had written a song twenty years ago and someone offered me six figures for the right to use the song in a commercial, I will be honest, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign on the dotted line. But large corporations and specifically, marketing firms, are just being lazy and careless with our beloved music by bypassing the jingle writers and just plugging in a relevant classic song and that will get people to buy whatever product they are advertising. To me, it is just too convenient. I guess I am naive, but when did it all become about the money, not the music?

Sadly, this trend is catching on like wildfire, and nowadays you can read about many rock legends allowing their classic songs to be used for commercial purposes. Why we have Iggy Pop for Royal Caribbean, Bob Dylan promoting Victoria’s Secret products, Billy Preston teaming up with the Zombies for Fidelity Investments, Led Zeppelin pitching Cadillacs, Aerosmith for Buick, the O’Jays for Coors Beer, Deep Purple promoting Dodge, the Who allowing their music to be used in Cisco commercials, the flower power group the Association pitching Allstate Insurance, why we even have Helen Reddy’s classic anthem hit song “I Am Woman” being utilized in a Burger King commercial. The list goes on and on and when will the insanity end, and are these songs actually helping to sell the products they are endorsing?

It won’t be long before we hear he Donovan song “Mellow Yellow” actually promoting the soft drink called Mellow Yellow. Or how about the R.E.M. song called “Orange Crush” being used for, you guessed it, the soft drink called Orange Crush. While we’re at it, how about beating down some more Beatles’ classic hits such as “Ticket To Ride” for the highest bidding airline company, “She Loves You,” for the latest stinky men’s cologne or the song “I Feel Fine,” for an allergy medication? How about using Blondie’s hit single from 1980 entitled “Call Me” for an AT & T commercial? We could be hearing the classic Hollies’ tune entitled “Bus Stop” (plug in any major city bus line here) or “Angel Of The Morning” by Marrilee Rush for some feminine product or even “Baby I Love You” by the Ronettes for a diaper commercial. I have a few for the latest male enhancement product on the market, how about the Three Dog Night ditty called “Easy To Be Hard,” Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” the 1976 hit by Heart entitled “Magic Man” or the Rolling Stones’ hit “Start Me Up?”

While we’re at it, how about the Rolling Stones’ song “Tumbin’ Dice” (plug in any Indian Casino), the Police hit called “Every Breath You Take” for a cold remedy, the iconic Elvis hit “Hound Dog” being used for a dog food commercial? How about the Who’s classic song called “I Can See For Miles” for Lens Crafter or the Mama’s and the Papa’s 60's hit “California Dreamin’” for any airline company?

We can take it several steps further with “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” by the Bee Gees for a telephone company, the Bobby Fuller hit entitled “I Fought The Law,” (plug in any lawyer’s name) or Don Henley’s hit song called “Dirty Laundry” for Tide laundry soap? One could also make a case for the Chicago single called “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” being used in a Timex commercial, the Doors’ classic song “Light My Fire” being utilized by Kingsford Charcoal or the 1972 Rod Stewart hit “You Wear It Well” for any clothing manufacturer.

It’s just a matter of time before we hear the Tom Jones’ song “What’s New Pussycat” in a cat food commercial. Or how about the Raspberries hit “Go All The Way” used for a Trojan commercial? And don’t get me started on sleeping aids like “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics or “Last Night I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All” by the Fifth Dimension, the Robert John ditty, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” or the Everly Brothers number one hit from 1958 entitled “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” How about the Eagles’ classic hit entitled “Take It To The Limit” being used to pitch a major credit card? And any local funeral home would be pleased to use the Queen ditty called “Another One Bites The Dust” or “When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears or God forbid, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan. And now that you got me started, how would the hit song by Olivia Newton-John called “Have You Ever Been Mellow” or the Elton John hit called, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” the Chicago hit “Make Me Smile,” or better yet, “Do You Feel Like We Do” by Peter Frampton, being used for the latest and greatest antidepressant to hit the market? One could use the Johnny Nash tune called “I Can See Clearly Now” for any eyeglass maker or “One Headlight,” by the Wallflowers in an Auto Zone commercial. Aren’t you surprised that the hit song by Sammy Johns entitled “Chevy Van” hasn’t been used for a Chevy commercial…..maybe it is the line “and we made love in my Chevy van” that is holding them back.

We could get real creative and utilize the Beach Boys’ hit “California Girls” for the tourism council of California or the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit “Sweet Home Alabama” to promote tourism in that southern state. How about the hit by the B-52’s called “Rock Lobster” for, you guessed it, they could change the words up a bit and call it “Red Lobster!” And we must include more airline companies in this mess, like “Jet” by Paul McCartney, “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller, Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets To Paradise” or the worst one yet to come, the John Denver penned “Leaving On A Jet Plane” that was sung by Peter, Paul & Mary. And one more just for fun, the Neil Diamond classic “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” utilized for an FTD commercial?

The list seems endless and we may hear some of the aforementioned music paired up with their respective products. Some may seem downright silly, but after all, it is all about the money, not the music.

Submitted by:

Robert Benson

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates http://www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called "The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting." Contact Robert at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com




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