This Ad's For You

published in Stuffing No.2, Melbourne, 1989

Rock & Pop Music and Advertising

Seen the latest video by Neil Young for his song This Note's For You (1988)? It's a savage attack on the corporate sponsorship of rock performers, sending up figures like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. The video pulls no punches and drips with sarcasm while carrying the biting intensity of Young's lyrics. This song expresses sentiments many of us have perhaps been feeling for some time now, as rock and pop seem to be continually and endlessly sold, re-sold and sold-out for a mindless consumer society. Worst of all, the music and the songs are being tarnished beyond recognition as sponsors, companies and advertisers infect known songs and identities by association with trivial and irrelevant products, most of which have no relation whatsoever to the attached songs. This Note's For You has - not surprisingly - run into problems with being aired on MTV in the States, which surely testifies to the uncompromising position Young's song (and video) take on the commercialization of rock and pop.

OK - let's get straight. The above paragraph you just read is total bullshit. It's an amalgam of just about everything I've read or heard said about rock sponsorship, rock jingles, rock advertising, rock videos and rock consumerism over the past year and a half [1]. Now, I don't wish to `set matters right' by pointing out that rock (and its schizoid sister-city, pop) are entertainment industries largely controlled by corporate recording companies; that they purvey commercially viable music for consumption in a variety of modes across a number of mainstreams, undergrounds, niche markets and collectors' crevices; and that they exist within a complex network of economical, political and cultural matrices which can only be best understood and addressed by accepting the often frustrating problematics of their formation, manifestation and generation. In fact, there is little value to be gained from proposing this to those who treat rock and pop as some awesome set of conditional beliefs and philosophies : those who `believe' in rock and claim it has a direction and purpose beyond its material existence. These people (let's sink the boot in) are best left in their religious grottos, huddled in front of their `definitive/classic/ultimate' record collections (mainstream, underground - the difference is the same) in a halcyon daze of days well gone, with their senses conditioned to tune out the present and its ad hoc flows and transience.

What I do want to do here is acknowledge the issue of rock and pop jingles (the practice of reworking/revamping/re-using known songs to sell products other than records) as the tip of an iceberg whose hidden bulk and submerged mass belies both the ignorance toward rock and pop's contemporary cultural territorialization, and the ties between music commodification and `commodity musicalization' which have conflated to form the domain of rock and pop today. My main points are (a) pro-rock ideologies and anti-advertising sloganeering are too often politically more biased, inflated and reactionary than all the incidents and artifacts they attack; and (b) their celebrated attacks, critiques, refutations and withdrawals which purportedly chisel away at the rock/advertising infrastructure are often naive, superficial and deluded.

So let's start again with Neil Young's This Note's For You. In a sense, it's not surprising that Young ends up being the first to be so vocal about rock's internal politics and economic contentions. In his field of rock (that is, the realm of white, folksy, serious, committed and respected singer-songwriters) Young has earned the position of a personage : a figure whose past and present is founded on a series of evolutions and revolutions determined by his contextual self-development. His career is acknowledged for both its successes and failures, picturing him as `the living artist' coming to terms with personal reflections of his working surroundings. This is all very well, but that field which posits him in this light is but one privileged out of many (eg. black hip hop, European heavy metal or English gothic punk probably couldn't give a damn about Young). As true, solid and thoughtful as Young undoubtedly is, his domain is spherical : effecting a wholeness and totality by being enclosed, encased and ensured by its own projected limitations and limited projections. His voice - any single, individual voice - is far from capable of (let alone admirable in) covering the totality of rock culture and all its summits, recluses and ghettos, most of which have little historical relationship to the sixties `Us Generation' which helped angle the sociological bearing of Young's career and work.

Surely it then follows that his commentary on the larger machinations of rock production (industry advertising, corporate sponsorship and video promotion which are concerned with, determined by and dependent upon a multiple and contradictory network of exploitable markets) could only constitute a fragmented, thin perspective on rock's economic and cultural spread of denominations and dominions. The kind of advertising Young attacks is part of the state of rock today - in fact, it is a sure sign of where rock has ended up. It's a tough cliche : the times never stopped a-changing. Not that Young doesn't know it (he did admire Devo's work enough to borrow their phrase "rust never sleeps" for the title of his 1979 documentary [2]) but he's obviously having difficulty in coming to terms with still more changed times. It's as though Young hasn't yet acclimatized to contemporary conditions, leaving him beached and bleached in the brightness of pop markets' eclipse of rock traditions. While Young perceives that `his' rock has `ended up' here on the beach with Jackson's Pepsi-dyed skin tan, many `other' rocks and pops have been incubating, growing and developing under the same irritating light which force Young into wearing shades.

But what's to despair? This situation generates the fuel that singer-songwriters (beloved by gonzo/beat rock journals like Rolling Stone) run on. This Note's For You is another self-exorcism for a market attracted to its own emotional, psychological and personal ruminations. It's `you' is as much a market as the `you' to whom the Budweiser beer commercials are directed : this Bud's for you ; this Young's for you. If anything, This Note's For You is less an attack on the rock industry than a celebration of certain rock views (from that realm of serious, respected, committed music) whose artistic and critical position in the eighties has been severely shocked by contemporary developments in rock and pop. Reflecting Young's `spherical' condition, his video's line of communication goes inward toward its silent supporters (estranged in these noisy times) rather than outward to the `state of affairs' it highlights. In the video, Young thus becomes the figurehead and mouthpiece for a clump of neuroses and paranoias affecting rock purists and idealists in the current climate of mutation and amorality. This body of purists and idealists are no less self-centered than any cultural stream in rock, because while they mourn the malignment of music in general, they are more specifically moaning about their own state of affairs, their own sphere of existence from which the outside world of rock and pop prepossessingly looks dismal. Young wails the `Us' lamentations for them.

This is neither sad nor tragic. It isn't even pathetic. The pseudo-politics Young's (and others') sentiments cluster are easily evoked by the skeletal, discursive demarcations of their argument, ie. that the mode of selling in the rock industry is a matter of principles and ethics measurable by standards and degrees. In other words, the cheap and popular rhetoric of claiming the a priori existence of some gloriously `truthful' framework to which all socio-cultural occurrences must relate in order for their ideological and artistic assessment. I'm not simply stating the obvious (selling is selling so why split moral fibres?) but rather the `struggle of beliefs' to which Young's daring video testifies is politically impotent because it can be easily incorporated into the industrial machinations it supposedly irritates. Really, it's a no-match. Young's video gets banned by MTV America - an industrial action which clarifies the focus of Young's critical act - but is reported on the same network as a controversial news item. It's a collapse of power effects in the event of their display - ie. both parties posit themselves as sides, but play out their conflict in a site drained of any power that could seriously damage either of them (indeed both benefit from their`conflict'). It's not staged as much as it is prepared. Further to this and away from the central territorial power base Young attacks (the American market network tied into MTV's cable advertisers), both the European and Australasian MTV franchises present the news item complete with the unedited video. We are thus twice removed from the power play and its stage, and in a position to more severely mark Young's `spherical' mode of address.

But the collusions and co-options don't start and end on the lines drawn up by the prepared power play. The power or energy which drives Young's message home is of course the power of video clip communication - a language appropriated by and through television advertising's lineage of visual massaging, and a system of visual reference empowered and energized by the abject visuality and semiological manipulation in which today's consumer market is well-versed. Be this intentionally ironic or not on the part of Young, the point is that this clip sells its message to its market just as well (and just as ambiguously and surreptitiously) as most other video clips do to theirs, and that the power of the medium while engulfing and muffling Young's essential political stance allows him to locate and define the latest step in his `personage'. Simply, it is a great video because of how it has been designed to exist both within and without the power controls of its presentation 3. But - don't many videos (critical and non-critical) do this in one way or another through the limits of taste, commercialism, avant-gardeism, entertainment or social commentary whose borders they flirt with? And don't many people take videos - and advertising in general - precisely in this way, acknowledging that much advertising stands in for its own critical implosion? In the end, Young wins as much as he loses. Most people enjoy the clip for its pisstakes, and even those to whom Young is immaterial might even half-support his attack on the endless ephemera of aggravating advertising, while the clip certainly rings a rousing cheer from its more `politically engaged' viewers. But the predominantly detached way in which many people consume video clips also demonstrates that the issue of this video's absence or presence doesn't amount to much at all, because its anti-advertising sentiments are already richly latent in most current advertising anyway. Its simultaneous inclusion and exclusion within the industry indicates that all consequences are inconsequential in the continual production of today's rock and pop, because (a) rock and pop are quite likely starting to lose the grip on those socio-cultural territories they have drawn up over the last forty years, and (b) rock and pop industries are knowingly and publicly marketing the produce, products and productions across and throughout all past territorial divisions and markers.

This is precisely why so many facets and factors of production and modes and codes of address are currently so interchangeable in rock and pop culture. Anything can be accommodated; anything can be transformed; anything can be appropriated; anything can be reformed - ultimately rendering such operations meaningless. These are the climatic conditions which shape the rock/advertising iceberg, where `music' and `commodity' are phenomenologicailly and materially dispossessed of their essences and repossessed by demographic data. Any song or performer can thus be homogenized or `heterogenized' by market measures ranging from the reverse to the perverse. Such is rock and pop's environment : the way things are in terms of their power to condition and effect situations and contexts. In a sense, it's almost as if there is a logic at work here for the time being, in that there are perceivable and manifest forces which shape all the current rock/pop mergers and mutations. Sure, these forces can be criticized, but that criticism in no way guarantees let alone deserves repayment of socio-artistic change in the industry. To put it more bluntly, a thousand rock journalist editorials condemning rock-in-advertising won't affect the industrial machinations they address unless out of those editorials a stance with substance emerges which record companies can divine as exploitable material for an unearthed market. You know the cycle : people whinge about synthesizers, record companies sign up a guitar band. Market diversification for diverse marketing. Am I saying that politics are cheap in this climate? Yes - but by `cheap' I don't mean `fake or insincere' but `economically viable'. And the cheapest sentiments are those with the most overt (and obvious) political content.

It's no surprise, then, as markets appear to develop more and more along lines of overt and obvious signification and interpretation, the issues which irritate those markets are equally overt and obvious. This is why rock-in-advertising currently gets all the shit from the fan. But on the other hand, one wonders how closely people are looking at such `overt and obvious' occurrences. To close this article, I've listed as comprehensively as possible all the rock and pop songs I've heard transformed into jingles over the past five years or so (plus some which have resided dimly in my memory since I was a kid). It's not a definitive list by any means, but it's useful as a way of reflecting on not the `state of affairs' which governs the rock-in-advertising `predicament', but the environment in which rock and pop culture currently develops.

I suppose I can't help it, but when I hear The Spencer Davis' Group Keep On Running used for an Andrex toilet paper ad (1988) where a young labrador grabs the end of a roll of toilet paper in its mouth and `keeps on running' I just crack up. I mean, come on! The ad is either incredibly dumb or incredibly cynical - and we'll most likely never know which is the case. Others are so pathetic they make me choke : Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Waters for Red Cross or Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You for Telecom phone service. And some are so close to having an adverse effect on their product you wonder if that's perhaps how advertising sometimes works : an American chocolate biscuit company using Bob Marley's Stir It Up or (wait for it) the Australian Army reworking U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday! Really I could go on and on : the point is that each use of a song in an ad is generally quite specific, and tells us a lot about how rock and pop exists within streams of (for example) nostalgia, wonder, fun, concern, desire, romance, irony, stupidity, and so on.

All in all, most usages conform in their ability to evoke an isolated time-continuum (an era, an epoch, a generation, a flash, a vision) where time is either too far gone (The Platters' Only You for Wendys hamburgers) or too fast in happening (Donna Summer's She Works Hard For The Money for Del Monte canned veggies). This `time' in which the ads are cocooned nurtures and promotes the environment in which their consumption thrives, affording the consumer a state of consumption which (through the part-emotional/part-cynical association with song) gives the predictable product and the act of its inevitable purchase a `new' dimension. This sounds like a wash of ad-man newspeak, but known songs can trigger a whole range of psycho-cerebal experiences which familiar visuals cannot - especially in a technological environment which has been accenting audio/aural/acoustic/sonic production and reproduction for the past decade (over optical/visual progress, I would argue). This is something that post-Mcluhan (and I'm not talking about postmodernism) advertising knows only too well, and which McLuhan and Baudrillard academics just can't cotton on to.

Perhaps what is most interesting about rock and pop songs and music used in ads is the noticeable generational split which has developed throughout the eighties. On the one side, there is the trumped-up early seventies nostalgia which runs synchronous with the American radio formatting of `classic rock' and `easy listening rock' (mixing artists like Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, Lionel Ritchie, Elton John, Cliff Richard, Queen, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, The Moody Blues, etc.). This stream of artists are aligned with a market that appears to have once prided its youthfulness and has now transformed its past into a `transitory phase' which has helped shape its current `full identity'. In other words, boring farts with comfortable lifestyles and contemporary yet conservative tastes. (The artists with which this market identifies also take themselves in a similar way, ie. whimsically reflecting on their lost youth while admitting that their current success in this domain is well-earned and deserved, suggesting that, yes, there is meaning in life after 35 - most of it monetary. Check out the definitive Once Upon A Time by the reformed Moody Blues.) This burgeoning market (a whole nation of `what-ever-became-of' bodies and roles from the sixties and the seventies) comprises some of the most relaxed and affluent of consumer family-units to which the bulk of family commodities and items are directed.

Running parallel to this bulky mass of tastefulness are a variety of short-term, fashion-conscious streams of marketing. Products here are more associated with youth-oriented consumption (clothes, music, hi-fi, snacks, etc.) and play a tricky game of trying to appear specific while remaining anonymous. In fact, three clearly interrelated movements can be charted here : new wave, ska and rap - not just as musical styles, but also carrying all the subcultural paraphernalia and signification which advertising reinterprets as `marketable lifestyles'. New wave initially cropped up in any ad with crazy haircuts, retro-fashion and weird body jewelry. In Australia, punkiness in early eighties ads (Polywaffle, Lee Cooper, Twisties, etc.) mainly relied on non-musical cues like affected cockney accents, bleached hair and urban night-life sets [4]. Most interestingly, no identifiable punk or new wave songs were incorporated because the deliberately irritated and irritating sound of the music quite obviously went against the psychological grain of jingle phonematics and neumatics (the evocative qualities of sung speech). Ska - or rather, Madness and nothing but Madness - had a cleaner and clearer musical substance which allowed the ska beat and clipped vocals to commandeer many ads. These ads (often centered around school brat identities with flat-tops) used the music and its visual trappings to convey a cocky, spry tone, and as such also bled over into ads which used Ian Dury and Trio songs. The third and still current movement - rap - is perhaps the most rampant of all, mainly because it builds upon the monotone brashness of new wave nasality and ska syllabism to produce a pseudo-rap based more on military precision and literality than funky flow and movement. Hundreds of current ads employ this Anglicized delivery of spat-out rhyme without, once again, having to refer directly to any known songs. My point in briefly highlighting these three youth-oriented marketing trends is to illustrate that through specifying style while refraining from direct quotation, they incorporate rock and pop as much as their parent brigade.

A final note on this list. It was originally compiled as part of the EEEK! radio show which Bruce Milne and I hosted during 1985/86, and thankfully many people wrote into the show to add to the growing list. I've been keeping the list going since (and 1987/88 certainly was a peak period) and Bruce has corrected its latest version. Most of the companies and products listed are Australian companies, but as is not well known, most Australian ads rip-off wholesale overseas ads (mainly from Great Britain), so any overseas readers might recognize a song used in an ad which here is listed as being for a different company's product.

Note: * indicates the song was eventually released as a record; # indicates not the original artist, but the artist who popularized the song further, and whose version the jingle is based on.

Rock & Pop Songs Used in Ads

Partial quotations & reworkings

Art Of Noise - Diversion I - DRIVE detergent
David Bowie - Let's Dance & Fashion - KALUHA liqueur
Duran Duran - Girls On Film - SUN HOME SHOW
Herbie Hancock - Earth Beat - WEST COAST FBI jeans
Ike & Tina - River Deep Mountain High - COKE
Michael Jackson - Thriller - TOYOTA
Grace Jones - The Fashion Show - ROAD TRAFFIC AUTHORITY
Madness - Baggy Trousers - CHEAP JEANS
George Michael - Faith - KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN
Moody Blues - Knights In White Satin - YARDLEY `White Satin' perfume
Sinaid O'Connor - My Body - ESTREL fruit juice
Police - Every Breath You Take - BON BONS shoes
Prince - 1999 - HOLDEN `Gemini'
Rolling Stones - Jumping Jack Flash - EAST COAST jeans
Diana Ross/Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go - COKE
Sade - The Sweetest Taboo - FM flavoured milk
Scritti Politti - Wood Beez - NISSAN
Style Council - You're The Best Thing - KELLOGS `Special K'
Vito/Salutations - Unchained Melody - CRAZY EDDIE discounts
U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday - AUSTRALIAN ARMY
UK Squeeze - Cool For Cats - BRIDGESTONE tyres
Tom Waits - Down Town Trains - SARINA cosmetics
Wham! - Wake Me Up - RITZ sunglasses
Marie Wilson - Just What I Always Wanted - McDONALDS hamburgers
Stevie Wonder - Master Blaster - ULTIMATE gymnasiums
Z Z Top - Legs - AGREE Shampoo

Cover versions

ABC - Look Of Love - SPORTSGIRL fashion stores
The Ad Libs - The Boy From New York City - BRASHES hi-fi
Paul Anka - Put Your Head On My Shoulders - HEAD & SHOULDERS shampoo
Bachman Turner Overdrive - Takin' Care Of Business - CANNON copiers
Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian - VASELINE hand lotion
The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations - SUNKIST orange juice
? - Help Me Rhonda - HONDA bikes
The Beach Boys - Surfin' USA - LIFESAVERS sweets
The Beach Boys - Surfin' USA - BLUEHAVEN swim pools
The Beach Boys - California Girls - VICTORIAN EGG BOARD
The Beach Boys - California Girls - LINCRAFT fabrics
The Beach Boys - Beach Baby - CAREFREE tampons
The Beach Boys - I Get Around - BEGA cheese
The Beach Boys - Do It Again - HAMILTON ISLAND tourism
The Beatles - Twist & Shout # - VICTORIAN DAIRY ind.
The Beatles - All You Need Is Love - PATTONS wool
The Beatles - Help - LINCOLN-MERCURY cars
Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive - VOLVO cars
The Bellamy Brothers - Let Your Love Flow - CARLTON `Light' beer
The Big Bopper - Chantilly Lace - FANTA soft drink
David Bowie - Modern Love - NATIONAL COFFEE assoc.
Laura Branigan - Gloria # - Mitsubishi `Cordia'
James Brown - It's A Man's World - TENNETS larger
James Brown - It's A Man's World - SWAN beer
Glen Campbell - Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Me - MITSUBISHI `Colt'
The Cars - Drive - NISSAN `TRX'
Gene Chandler - Duke Of Earl - DECORE hair shampoo
Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack - JAYCO caravans
Charlene - I've Been To Paradise - SAFEWAY supermarkets
Chubby Checker - Let's Twist Again - EAST COAST jeans
Dave Clark Five - Catch Us If You Can - NISSAN `Pulsar'
Eddie Cochran - Summertime Blues - M-NETWORK computer games
Eddie Cochran - Summertime Blues - MALIBU liqueur
Joe Cocker - You Are So Beautiful # - TASMANIAN tourism
Sam Cooke - Wonderful World - TOYOTA `Hatch'
Alice Cooper - Department Of Youth - VENTURE kids' clothes
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary - LINCOLN-MERCURY `Cougar'
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Who'll Stop The Rain? - WITCHERY fashion stores
Jim Croce - Time In A Bottle - MATEUS wines
Daddy Cool - Eagle Rock - LEVI jeans
Bobby Darin - Splish Splash # - FORD `Meteor'
Bobby Darin - Multiplication - HUNGRY JACKS hamburgers
Devo - Whip It - ? diet company
Dire Straits - Makin' Movies - POLLY HIGHLIGHTS hair dye
Fats Domino - Ain't That A Shame - BLACK & DECKER cosmetics
Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill - SNUGGLES nappies
Lonnie Donnegan - My Old Man's A Dustman - WILLOW rubbish bins
Donovan - Colours - WHISKERS cat food
David Dundas - Jeans On - Brutus jeans
Ian Dury/Blockheads - I Wanna Be Straight - BOND T-shirts
Ian Dury/Blockheads - Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3 - KELLOGGS `Corn Flakes' cereal
Ian Dury/Blockheads - Billerickie Dickie - SPRAY & WIPE cleaner
Bob Dylan- It's All Over Now Baby Blue - INSIGNIA aftershave
Easybeats - Money # - CHANNEL 9 news
Easybeats - Good Time - BUNDERBURG rum
Eurythmics - Cool Blue - TAUBMANS Paints
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams - KELLY GIRLS secretarial
John Farnham - The Voice - TELECOM telephone service
The 5th Dimension - Up Up & Away - TAA airlines
Billy Fields - Bad Habit - GREAT WESTERN champagne
Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I Saw Your face - OIL OF ULAN moisturizer
The Foundations - Build Me Up Buttercup - WESTERN STAR butter
Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax - OMBRE SOLERE suntan oil
Aretha Franklin - Freeway Of Love - COKE
Aretha Franklin - A Natural Woman - AWON clothes
Glen Frey - The Heat Is On - BRASHES audio/visual
Marvin Gaye - How Sweet It Is - GOLDEN crumpets
Marvin Gaye - Ain't No Mountain High Enough - LINCOLN-MERCURY cars
Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine - COKE
George Baker Selection - Little Green Bag - MAZDA cars
Bill Haley/Comets - Rock Around The Clock - 7-11 food stores
Bill Haley/Comets - Razzle Dazzle - COLES/NEW WORLD s/markets
Buddy Holly - It's So Easy To Fall In Love - TAB betting agencies
Buddy Holly - Rave On - FORD `Lazer'
Buddy Holly - Roller Coaster - VASELINE hand lotion
Hush - Get Rocked - COLONIAL Jeans
Ike & Tina - Ain't No Mountain High Enough - DHL express couriers
Michael Jackson - Billy Jean - PEPSI
Etta James - I'm A W.O.M.A.N. - ANGALI perfume
The Jamies - Summertime - PICK-A-PART car parts
The Jamies - Summertime - McDONALDS hamburgers
Billy Joel - That Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady - NIVEA hand lotion
Elton John - Sorry Seems To Be The etc. - BRITISH RAIL
Elton John - Sorry Seems To Be The etc. - AUSTRALIA POST
Elton John - Philadelphia Freedom - PHILADELPHIA Cheese
Elton John - Crystal - CRESTA blinds
Keith - 98.6 - DATSUN cars
Nick Kershaw - Wide Boy - CHRISTIAN TELEVISION asc.
The King Brothers - Standing On The Corner - FORD cars
The Knack - My Sharona - DIHATSU `Feroza'
Labelle - Voulez Vous Couchez Avec Moi - NESTLES ice cream
Cindy Lauper - Time After Time - M-WATCH watches
Cindy Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - CAREFREE tampons
Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls Of Fire - ANZ banks
Julian Lennon - Too Late For Goodbyes - ? ice cream
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti - McDONALDS hamburgers
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti - HUNGRY JACKS hamburgers
Little Richard - Keep A Knocking - HBA health insurance
M - Pop Muzik - BUBBLE YUM gum
Clyde McPhatter - Oh What A Night - GOLD CREST muesli bars
Madness - Baggy Trousers - KELLOGGS `Short Cuts'
Madonna - Like A Prayer - PEPSI
Manfred Mann - Doo Wah Diddy Diddy - PRAISE mayonaise
The Marcels - Blue Moon # - MALIBU liqueur
Masters' Apprentices - Do What You Wanna Do - LEE jeans
Bob Marley - Stir It Up - ? chocolate biscuits
Susan Maughan - I Wanna Be Bobby's Girl - SMITHS `Jacket Crisps'
McFadden & Whitehead - There's No Stopping Us Now - PHILLIPS CDs
The Monotones - Book Of Love - PEPSODENT toothpaste
The New Seekers - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing - COKE *
The Newbeats - Bread & Butter - SUNICRUST bread
Randy Newman - I Love L.A - NIKE sportswear
Phil Oakey/Moroder - Electric Dreams - MYER stores
Olivia Newton John - Let's Get Physical - ENO antacid
Johnny O'Keefe - Shout! # - HOLDEN cars
Johnny O'Keefe - Shout! # - CHANNEL 9 television
Roy Orbison - Crying - KLEENEX tissues
Paris Sisters - I Love How You Love Me - PALMOLIVE hair shampoo
Ray Parker Jr. - Ghostbusters - GOLD MEDAL soft drinks
Wilson Pickett - What Is Soul? - COMFORT fabric softener
Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall - CONTROL DATA INSTITUTE
The Platters - Only You - WENDY'S hamburgers
Pointer Sisters - Jump - BOUNCE fabric softener
Pointer Sisters - I'm So Excited - TOYOTA
Police - Every Breath You Take - BRITISH RAIL
Elvis Presley - Rock-A-Hula - KOOLA KOOL soft drink
Eddie Rabbit - You Don't Love Me Anymore - LE SHIRT shirts
Eddie Rabbit - I Love A Rainy Night - MILLER beer
Otis Redding - Dock Of The Bay - PIMMS drink
The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black - MAZDA cars
The Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want - ANZ bank
The Rolling Stones - Start Me Up - MICROSOFT Windows 95 computer software
Linda Ronstadt - Get Closer - CLOSE-UP toothpaste
The Rooftop Singers - Walk Right In - Step Right Up - SPEED shoes
Rose Tattoo - We Can't Be Beaten - BRASHES audio/visual
Roxy Music - Avalon - GUINESS beer
Sailor - Girls Girls Girls - TOYOTA `Hatch Back'
John Sebastian - Welcome Back - PIZZA HUT pizzas
The Shadows - Apache - TANGO soft drink
The Shangri-Las - Leader Of The Pack - McDONALDS hamburgers
The Shirelles - Dedicated To The One I Love - ? cereal
Carly Simon - Anticipation - HEINZ ketchup
Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Waters - RED CROSS
Frank Sinatra - Love & Marriage - KRAFT cheese
Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood - Summer Wine - ORLANDO `Summer Wine'
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walking - SUBARU cars
Sister Sledge - We Are Family - PEPSI
The Smiths - How Soon Is Now? - PEPE jeans
Sparks - When I'm With You - FORD `Corolla'
Spencer Davis Group - Keep On Running - ANDREX tissue paper
Splodgeness Abounds - Two Pints Of Larger & A Packet Of Crisps - SMITHS crisps
Dusty Springfield - I Only Want To Be With You - FLAG motels
The Stranglers - Golden Brown - BREVILLE toasters
Barbara Streisand - Memories - TELECOM telephones
Barbara Streisand - Touch Me In The Morning - PALMOLIVE soap
Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money - COKE
Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money - DEL MONTE canned veggies
Billy Swan - I Can Help - BRITISH RAIL
T-Bones - Whatever Shape Your Stomach Is In - ALKA SELTZER antacid *
The Temptations - My Girl - LEVIS `501' jeans
Jackie Trent/Tony Hatch - The Two Of Us - MY DOG pet food
T-Rex - Get It On - SHARP hi-fi
T-Rex - Get It On - CANNON colour copiers
Trio - Da Da Da - LOIS Jeans
Trio - Da Da Da - VICKS throat drops
Trio - Da Da Da - SPEEDS shoes
Doris Troy - Just One Look - DANORE yoghurt
Bobby Vee - Rubber Ball - BUTTERBALL chickens
Kim Wilde - Chequered Love - AMF bowling alleys
Maurice Williams/Zodiacs - Stay - HAMILTON ISLAND tourism
Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine - POLLY HIGHLIGHTS hair dye
Bill Withers - Lean On Me - ? cat food
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You - SPRINT telephone service
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You - TELECOM telephone service
World Party - Ship Of Fools - GREENPEACE
Yello - Call It Love - TIA MARIA liqueur

Notes

1. You should have by now encountered the negative views in one way or another in just about every name rock magazine or newspaper. For a balanced view of the pros and cons in corporate sponsorship see Robert Sandall's "Watch This Space" in Q, October 1988. Some positive arguments are my own in six articles on rock & pop video clips written over 1985 and 1986 for WAVES magazine.

2. Apparently Devo took the phrase "rust never sleeps" from an American TV advertisement.

3. Young's actually plugged into an existing `McLuhanesque' subgenre here : see his previous video (the title escapes me : it's the one with only one unedited video hand-held shot where Young plays a Live Eye TV reporter at the scene of a fatal crash) plus : The The's Graduation Day, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' Take It Back, Time Zone's World Destruction, David Bowie's Fashion, Devo's Freedom Of Choice, Satisfaction, Beautiful World and Are You Experienced?, Michael Jackson's Leave Me Alone, David Lee Roth's Just A Gigolo, Talking Head's Wild Life, Hunters & Collectors' Is There Anybody In There?, the Howard Jones' clip (another title escapes me) which most television programmes refused to play because it too closely resembled a package of other programmes, complete with transmission breakdowns), Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al (the original version with deliberate transmission drop-outs which MTV refused to play, hence the Chevy Chase pisstakes/re-take on star personae lip-synching), and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes (which was deliberately designed to receive requests for re-editing). They all attack the notion of selling and selling-out, and/or the role that television advertising, news coverage, media manipulation and broadcast transmission play in shaping rock and pop culture. The best one, though, has to be Public Enemy's Night Of The Living Baseheads. When you see it you'll hear why : it basically destroys the song it is meant to be selling.

4. The representation of punk in film, television and advertising is virtually uncharted yet overwhelmingly large. A round up of examples, incidents and developments has yet to be presented (my listings-in-progress tallies 80 films, 30 TV shows and 28 ads which use the image of a punk for one reason or another). In the mean time, see Dick Hebdige's chapter on the commodification of punk in Subculture : The Meaning Of Style, Methuen 1979, and his collection of essays on culture, identity and music Hiding In The Light, Comedia 1988.


Text © Philip Brophy. Images © respective copyright holders.