In the 60′s, the synchronisation of popular music used in advertising were seen by bands as ‘selling out’ or ‘getting into bed with the man’. But this perception and moral positioning has changed beyond all recognition in recent years as musicians realise both the promotional and financial benefits of advertising partnerships.
Boy Dylan is a man who has always managed to move with the times. His interactive video for ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ has wracked up over 70 million views on the network Interlude, which allows users to choose what happens next as music videos progresses encouraging them not to snowball through content as they may do on YouTube.
A 1990’s Richie Havens’ cover of “The Time They Are A Changin’” helped to advertise a bank and Apple used numerous images of Bob in their ‘Think Different’ campaigns during the late 60’s. Many music fans were disgusted by this.
Dylan’s music spans decades and yet he did not properly couple his music with any brands until 2004, when it really became acceptable for reputable artists to do so.
He once said that if he were going to do any advertising work, he would endorse ‘ladies garments’.
Ironically that is exactly what he did in this 2004 Victoria’s Secret commercial, which flicks between Dylan and a Victoria’s Secret model, backed perfectly by his track Love Sick that ends with the line “I see silhouettes in the window. I’m sick of love, I wish I’d never met you.”
After its release Bob said: “Was I not supposed to do that?” in an interview with Rolling Stone “I wish I had seen it. Maybe I’d have something to say about it. I don’t see that kind of stuff. That’s for other people to see and make up what they will.”
In 2006 he was one of the iconic faces of Apple’s iPod, with the singer sat playing guitar on a stool whilst a dancer sways in the almost silhouetted style that the company were obsessed with in their advertising at the time.
This may have been a more obvious brand tie-up for Dylan, firstly because he was helping to push his music to a younger generation but also because Steve Jobs was a life-long fan.
In 2007 Dylan brought his musty brand to the desert where he shot an advert with Cadillac asking “What’s life without the occasional detour?”
Some called it ‘too ironic for words’ that a man who said: “Advertising signs that con you into thinking you’re the one” to be advertising a $75,000 car.
Despite this criticism there quickly followed an advert in which Dylan allowed Pepsi to mix ‘Forever Young’ with the vocal styling’s of Will.I.Am under the strap line “every generation refreshes the world.”
By this point even the greatest naysayers of the 60’s were beginning to understand the necessary financial benefits to brand partnerships and how older music can be reinvented for a new generation of music listeners.
Just a matter of months ago Dylan featured in a series of Chrysler adverts during the Super Bowl (viewed by 111 million people) that focused around encouraging people to buy American cars.
“You can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line,” he said in the two-minute monologue. At the same time he had also allowed the use of his 1966 single “I Want You” to be used by Chobani Yoghurt in a separate advert. Both saw a jump in sales on iTunes.
There will always be sceptical (generally older) fans that neglect the idea of their idols partnering with brands, but in an age where music royalties are being squeezed, piracy is prominent and tracks are digital, music licensing is the last place that artists like Bob Dylan can earn true revenue outside of touring.