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Popular Music Used In Commercials

Oct 11, 2007
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's use of the great Beatles' hit entitled "Hello Goodbye" (although in the commercial they have changed it to "Hello Good Buy," how clever). 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?

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.

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." 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, as nowadays you can hear many rock legends allowing their classic music 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 heart 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 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 the appropriate song "Leaving On A Jet Plane" for United Airlines or Blondie's hit single "Call Me" for AT & T? 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 Viagra, how about the Three Dog Night ditty called "Easy To Be Hard" or Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and the Rolling Stones' hit "Start Me Up?"

While we're at it, how about the Rolling Stones' hit "Tumbin' Dice" (plug in any Indian Casino), the Police hit entitled "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 or the Doors' classic song "Light My Fire" being utilized by Kingsford Charcoal.

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. How about the Eagles' classic 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 and 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"; 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. 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.
About the Author
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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