Herald and Journal, January 4, 1999

Music makes them sell, sell


Music has always been a big part of my life.

I really enjoy listening to music and watching people perform. I love watching musicals and music videos.

I believe that I was born at the very best time, as far as music is concerned. I remember listening to Elvis in the '50s when he had just burst onto the scene.

My family used to watch a show called "Hit Parade" on television every Saturday night. The top songs would be performed each week, counting down to the number one song.

I was a teenager in the '60s when the Beatles invaded the airwaves. I listened to the top 20 countdown on the radio while I did my homework. For a long time, Beatle songs occupied most of the top spots on the charts.

Listening to those old tunes usually brings back memories of old times. Unfortunately, sometimes when I hear my old favorite tunes, they are being used to conjure up new images in television commercials. I know this has been going on for quite a while. I don't know who started it, or what song may have been the first. I know one of the first ads I remember used the Beatles' "Revolution" to hawk tennis shoes.

Now, it seems, there are more tunes than ever that are popping up in commercials. Here are a few that I have noticed in the past few months:

The instrumental, "More," was being used to sell toothbrushes.

I heard someone singing, "Oh, Oh, Oh, It's Magic," and they were touting telephones.

The Beach Boys' quiet and reflective, "In My Room," was being used to push a brand of paint.

Instead of bragging about a hot car, "409" was being used to sell- what else?, 409 Cleaner.

A few weeks ago, I couldn't believe I was hearing one of my all-time favorites being used to sell soap. It seemed sacrilegious somehow. I almost yelled out, "No, stop!" I have watched the movie "The Wizard of Oz" many times. I hope I won't be reminded of soap the next time I hear Judy Garland wistfully singing about a place, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

A few weeks ago, I heard Judy's voice again on a cable channel. This time she was singing "C'mon Get Happy" for a perfume. I wonder if Judy herself would be all that happy about her music being used this way?

Some people will like the ads and the connections they are making. I believe these tunes are being trotted out by advertisers to appeal to the Baby Boomers. There are a lot of consumers in that age group.

Advertisers can make an instant connection with consumers by using a popular song. Even the United States Postal Service got into the act by using, "Fly Like An Eagle" in a recent ad.

The television ad that really perturbed me the most was the one using the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" to sell cars. Oh, fine.

In the past, when one of our six kids would complain that they really wanted something, my reply would be, "In the immortal words of Mick Jagger, you can't always get what you want."

Now when I quote those words of wisdom to them they might be thinking about Toyotas instead.

I suppose I could say that I was ahead of my time all along, quoting a popular song to make my point. Now that's an idea I'd really like to sell to my kids.

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