With not too much uproar over the depressing lyrics, the London Tourist Board is using the Clash’s punk classic “London Calling” to lure visitors to the 2012 Olympic games. The title track from the 1979 album was influenced by the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown earlier that year.
What’s more important when brands and organizations attempt to evoke an emotional response with music, melody or lyrics?
“London Calling” actually seems fitting since the struggles covered in the band’s incredible 20-song narrative are with us today. Except, nuclear meltdowns are big in Japan.
Our text-heavy, PR-messaging-mindset had us initially confused in the same way as when Royal Caribbean thumped cruise vacations with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” (liquor and drugs!), when Subaru hawked station wagons to hockey moms with The Pogues “If I Should Fall from Grace with God,” or when AT&T used Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” during the last winter Olympics. The latter, for anyone who saw the gut wrenching movie Trainspotting, invokes a pukey, ominous feeling–don’t jump into space snowboard girl, you’re on heroin!
(See after the jump for embedded videos of the ads.)
Our unscientific sampling of four marketing campaigns using British classics reveals this: three of four are upbeat. Chucking “Perfect Day” leaves us with three very effective uptempo songs in which to hook people who moshed through the 80s–now a spendy demographic likely to enjoy watching Usain Bolt sprint down the lane, or enjoy snorkeling with their kids off of St. Bart’s. With the Olympics specifically, despite terrorist attacks, tanking economies, food shortages and reactor meltdowns, there is the thread of optimism that says nations can get along and solve problems collectively. So Joe Strummer is the ideal muse and “London Calling” is the right call. For selling durable goods, the melodies imprinted on our aging cortices seem to trump the content itself.
The Pogues and Subaru:
Lou Reed and AT&T:
Iggy Pop and Royal Caribbean: