Saturday, June 22, 2013

Remember what a big deal the 1987 "Revolution" Nike ad was?

[click to embiggen]

Buzzfeed reports that this complaint letter is framed at Nike headquarters. I remember when that ad came out, and it was actually a really big deal that an actual song by The Beatles had been "sold out" to sell shoes.

John Lennon had been dead for almost seven years at that point, and the publishing rights to most Beatles-era Lennon-McCartney songs had been purchased by Michael Jackson in 1985. In an unprecedented move, Wieden+Kennedy paid paid $250,000 to Michael Jackson and another $250,000 to Capitol Records which held the North American licensing rights to The Beatles’ recordings.

Apparently, Paul, George and Ringo were not happy about it. Through their record company, Apple, (which would later fight with Apple Computers) filed a lawsuit in July 1987. They named Nike, Wieden+Kennedy, and Capitol-EMI Records for $15 million in damages. It was settled out-of-court for an undisclosed sum.

Yoko Ono, however, approved of the song's commercial use, telling Time that the ad was "making John's music accessible to a new generation."

The real revolution — of advertisers using the borrowed interest of unaltered classic songs for campaigns — was unstoppable. It's now almost inconceivable to imagine a time when new and old hits were not repurposed as anthems for big brands. Even though it is pretty lazy creative, when you think about it.

And the letter? The imgr source cuts off the signature. But one thing I can say for sure, is that he or she was also a Monty Python fan.

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