It’s one of the worst insults in hipsterdom. The term describes the act of compromising one’s integrity for money, power, or mainstream acceptance perfectly. People feel offended when their favorite artists sell out. Our heroes have abused our support!! In the words of comedian Bill Hicks, “If you do an advert, then you are off the artistic register forever.”
As an advertising major, I have mixed feelings about this issue. I remember feeling absolutely crushed when one of my favorite bands, Badly Drawn Boy, appeared in a commercial for Target during high school. Nobody knew them!! Their concerts were small intimate affairs and it was perfection. How could they whore themselves out to Target in a stab for money and popularity? I realized I shouldn’t be blaming them for trying to get success. The want of fame and fortune is deemed as dirty and not worthy of true artists, but shouldn’t we be happy that more people get to hear the songs?
One of the biggest outcries against selling out has to be Nike’s 1987 Revolution ad. Nike paid $250,000 (which was a lot of money for the 80s) to Capitol Records (who owned the Beatles song collection) for the rights of The Beatles’ “Revolution.” The Beatles actually sued. After “Help!” was used in a Ford commercial in 1985, the Beatles made a statement that their songs should never be used for commercials again. Hence the outcry against Nike. While the suit was in court, Nike continued to run the ad, which was a major success and sales rose. An out-of-court settlement was finally agreed upon. And the Beatles songs have appeared in countless ads since.
The Revolution ad is well done, but it’s hard to digest. “Revolution” is such an iconic song of the 1960s protest era. The ad changes its meaning. So, I feel torn. I don’t mind when I discover new artists through commercials, but it still feels wrong when the legends advocate a product.