Bob Dylan is currently sound tracking a Mccann Erickson produced TV advert for the Co-op group in the UK with ‘Blowing In The wind’.
Running a synch department within a publisher whose monthly targets are sometimes scuppered by writers with more integrity than i’d like, it’s difficult not to see this as the ultimate licence, a refreshing piece of pragmatism in a world like ours in which the decision making process can be full of over analytical second guessing. Now, I have the Bob Dylan precedent, the ultimate tool in my arm twisting armory- if Bob Dylan can say yes, then the seal has been broken, things aren’t as sacred as they once were… there’s no excuse not to.
The use on the surface seems pretty natty and almost too good to be true. The Co-op, a company centered around financial services whose ethical credentials are unquestionable and who, unlike the big city banks are strolling through the current credit crunch/ crisis with their heads held high and pride intact, borrowing possibly the ultimate protest/ anti establishment song (save God Save The Queen- Sex Pistols?) in order to position themselves as the antithesis to the greedy city banks and as the only viable option left on the high street.
So- what exactly does Bob Dylan get out of this relationship? You’d think that none of the usual reasons for licensing music would apply to someone of his stature, he can’t need the cash, or the promotion and publicity such a use inevitably brings- this is Bob Dylan!
Scratch the surface though and you’ll see that Bob Dylan seems to actually like adverts- not only does he licence his music to them, he likes to appear in them, popping up, dressed in black with his funny bit of facial hair, looking a bit older than you’d like him to and on two occasions playing guitar surrounded by dancing girls.
First off there’s the ipod advert around the time of his 06 record ‘Modern Times’ the reasoning for which kind of speaks for itself, nice bit of promotion for the album via itunes who pretty untouchable in the credibility stakes (and no coincidence provides a shop front for his back catalogue to ANOTHER generation of music buyers- 800 track digital boxset anyone?) and he gets to mince about in cowboy hat singing, looking grumpy whilst girls dance.
Then there’s the Victoria’s Secrets Underwear advert which is where things take a turn for the surreal- more dark clothing, more bob mooching around in a moody guitar playing haze, more dancing girls (in underwear) and a real lack of rhyme or reason.
Last but not least is the advert in America, for a ‘environmentally friendly hybrid SUV’ (insert smug comment re oxymoron) that reportedly does 21 miles to the gallon. This time he’s driving, listening to music and generally being Bob Dylan.
So whilst the co-op may think they have the ultimate in ethical soundtracks, and set the blogsphere alive with the age old ‘selling out’ debate and created a small whirlwind in the undeniable coup that is licensing THAT song, for Bob it seems this is business as usual, another day in the office, underwear, ipods, cars or ethical banks – business, it seems, is business.
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