Julian Gratton

Rockers who’ve used their credentials to flog you some stuff in a TV Advert

They’ve sold records by the thousands and had fans screaming their name at concert halls and stadiums around the world. Their songs have been sung in bedrooms throughout the world and kids have done their best to emulate their style and demeanor. Eventually the hot young thing becomes the fading rock star and a new source of income needs to be found… and there’s a plethora of advertising creative out there eager to put their heroes in a TV advert and help them earn a few quid!

David Bowie and Pepsi with a special guest appearance by Tina Turner

If you ever needed an example of TV Advert created by committee this is it. Take two of the 80s biggest rock stars, add in elements of a hit movie from the time (Weird Science) and have them sing a version of Bowie’s biggest hit for years (Modern Love) and you’ll shift millions of bottles of soda and claim back market share from Coca-Cola.

Sadly for Pepsi, Bowie can clearly be seen not drinking the beverage he’s selling, and some sexual assault charges filed against him at the time meant that the advert was also pulled from TV screens (Bowie was cleared of all charges). If only they’d have not burnt Michael Jackson’s hair off when making their previous commercial!

Iggy Pop flogs Swiftcover insurance he’s not actually eligible for

This had to be one of the most bizarre brand and star associations in years and came completely leftfield… so hats off to whoever came up with the idea of using Iggy to sell insurance! The adverts were ultimately banned by the ASA after a number of people complained that Iggy would never be covered by Swiftcover – and someone noted that the insurer did not insure musicians…. But at least they tried their best to counter claims of Iggy selling-out by publishing this video interview on their site:

Alice Cooper and SKY with a guest appearance by Ronnie Corbett

In some weird messed-up world there really is a house in suburbia where veteran rocker Alice Cooper lives with the beloved Ronnie Corbett. They have gammon for tea, enjoy watching The Simpsons and generally sitting about on the sofa enjoying their domestic bliss. No, really. It’s actually quite a charming ad that tells an unexpected and entertaining little story, which clearly demonstrates the primary benefit of a Sky+ box – the ability to figuratively create your own TV channel. All very Morecambe and Wise and all the better for it.

Famously “alternative” rocker Jack White flogs the most mainstream brand on the planet

The strummed acoustic guitar, those slightly frantic vocals… it’s unmistakeably Jack White from The White Stripes. Ahh, and he’s singing a cute song about love and peace and unity for…hang on a minute…for Coca Cola?!?

Jack White, poster-boy for alternative indie rock. Who famously and very publicly refused to “sell out” by working with Gap, has written a song for Coke. The single most massively mainstream corporation on the planet?!?

It’s hard to imagine how this collaboration came about. Presumably it went something like “Hey Jack. Would you like this SUITCASE FULL OF CASH in exchange for a little ditty we can use in our advert?” And the rest is history.

To be fair to Jack it does seem that the ad was only screened once in the UK and perhaps that was part of the deal: low exposure. But of course, as anyone with even a basic understanding of viral marketing will tell you: get an unexpected collaboration together and people will share it.

The Flaming Lips soundtrack a not so epic playdate for Hyundai

Psych-rockers The Flaming Lips star in this baffling advert for a rather dull car. First they’re having breakfast with a family, then they’re playing a jaunty psych-pop jam on top of the family house (how very Rock ‘n’ Roll), as the family heads out on an “epic” playdate.

Trouble is, the playdate this family have isn’t all that. Yes, they have their picture taken at a museum, do some yoga poses, and run about a bit, but…err…that’s about it. Not. Exactly. Epic. And of course, the upshot of all this tomfoolery is that by the time you’ve taken in the Flaming Lips tour bus firing a glitter-tape cannon from its roof as well, you actually forget that you’re watching a car ad, let alone remember which car brand is being advertised. Plus, the spot aired during the 2013 Superbowl, meaning it probably cost more to air than it did to film. Bonkers.