Paul and Advertising

“The Beatles position is that they don’t sing jingles to peddle sneakers, beer, pantyhose or anything else,” said Apple’s attorney in a statement of July 18, 1987.  “Their position is that they wrote and recorded these songs as artists and not as pitchmen for any product.” [From the battle over Nike’s use of the song “Revolution”]

It was surprising to find while having a look around the website for 54th Grammy Awards (to be announced tomorrow February 12 in the US) to see an advertisement for JBL audio gear featuring Paul McCartney.

Clearly, well-prior to its official release just last week, deals were being done around his song “My Valentine”, and it’s already being used to market products. The YouTube copy elsewhere reads in part:

“A life-long user of JBL equipment in the studio, on tour and at home, McCartney’s appearance as a JBL “Hear the truth” artist is a testament to the enduring impact the brand has had on musicians and music fans since the dawn of the rock era.  The video features his new single, “My Valentine,” from the album “Kisses on the Bottom,” which was released on February 7….”

The print ads look like this:

I’m not sure why I was surprised by this. Thinking about it some more McCartney has a history of associating his concerts, his music, and himself with commercial products. In fact he struck another deal prior to the release of Kisses on the Bottom – this time with the jewelers Tiffany and Co. Again one has to imagine this was largely attributable to the romance associated with Valentines Day, jewelry sales, and the song “My Valentine”. Tiffany and Co., on their website (no longer active), offered for a limited time a free download of “Only Our Hearts”, one of the other two original McCartney songs (the other is “My Valentine”) from Kisses on the Bottom.

The Tiffany and Co. site also includes links to the Kisses on the Bottom album video Electronic Press Kit video, with McCartney and producer Tommy LiPuma talking with veteran rock writer Robert Hiburn. This was available on the Tiffany site before it was available anywhere else – even on McCartney’s own website.

Other overt and sometimes criticised commercial associations come to mind. There were two from 2005. The first is the CD Never Stop Doing What You Love:

This was a 15 track “Best Of” limited-edition CD, not for sale but given away to employees of the Boston-based company Fidelity Investments. The company were sponsors of McCartney’s 2005 US tour, and he became their official spokesman. According to Wikipedia, on the day of the CD release company employees were treated to a special recorded message by Paul himself informing them that “Fidelity and I have a lot in common” and urging them to “never stop doing what you love”. There were TV commercials and print ads featuring home-movie footage – the first time McCartney had ever given such personal footage to an ad campaign. He received considerable criticism for his celebrity endorsement of Fidelity Investments, which many considered to be a vulgar attempt to increase his already astounding wealth.

The second example also comes from 2005 and another major concert tour sponsor, the car-maker Lexus. Paul even had his own Lexus/McCartney website, and a limited McCartney signature-edition Lexus RX 400 SUV release, complete with a Hoffner Bass paint job. The idea was for Lexus to promote his latest album too, which was Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.  To be fair the site was also used to promote one of Paul’s main charitable focuses at the time: Adopt-a-Minefield. Also from the association came this limited-edition 2 CD set:

This Lexus Tour Edition pack contained the 13-track Chaos and Creation in the Backyard CD plus an exclusive 10-track Motor of Love compilation CD featuring McCartney “road-themed” songs like “The Back Seat of My Car” (originally from the album Ram, but this version from Wingspan); “Helen Wheels” (from Band on the Run – 25th Anniversary Edition); “Lonely Road” (from Driving Rain) and “Biker Like an Icon” (from Off the Ground). There were two rare live tracks: “Drive My Car” (from the Super Bowl XXXIX half-time show in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6, 2005), and “The Long and Winding Road” (from the Driving U.S. Tour, Annaheim, California, May 5, 2002. I’m pretty sure this is a different version than the one on the Back in the U.S. Live 2002 CD). The set is housed in a cardboard slipcase and was commercially available – but only for a brief time from US Lexus dealerships:

Of course, Paul McCartney lends his name and image to many a good cause too. Take cruelty to animals and PETA for example, an organisation he’s supported for years:

So, where do you sit on the question of commercial product endorsement? Does it worry you or change your view of the artist? Do you have any other advertising examples involving Paul or the other Beatles that you know of?

Use the “Comments” box below or write to:

By the way, McCartney is nominated for a 2011 Grammy in the category Best Historical Album for last year’s Band on the Run, the deluxe edition from the Paul McCartney Archive Collection.  He will perform at the event.

5 thoughts on “Paul and Advertising

  1. Neil Aspinall is gone and all bets are off. So how is that surprising?

    The faithful “Nel” carried on in the tradition of Brian Epstein, protecting the boys for many, many years against cheapening their image with product commercialization.

    With both Brian and Nel dead, their self-pride doesn’t matter anymore, it seems. It’s all about the money now, image be damned. 😦


  2. Pingback: Beatles and Advertising | Beatles Blog

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