Happy Valentine's Day! I got you a nuclear holocaust!

I just saw an ad for J.C. Penney. They were promoting Valentine’s Day merchandise. It was all happy couples and hearts and flowers, and the soundtrack…

An insipid cover of Nena’s cold war classic, 99 Red Balloons. :smack: :smack: :smack:

Once in a while you hear something similar using the Pet Shop Boys’ “Shopping”:

*We’re buying and selling your history
How we go about is no mystery
We check it with the city and then change the laws -
Are you looking forward? Do you want some more? …

Our gain is your loss – that’s the price you pay
I heard it in the House of Commons – everything’s for sale…*

How can anyone take a song that mentions Capt. Kirk seriously nuclear war or not.


Here I thought the OP would be referring to this Onion article.

I’ve heard that song a number of times, and seen the video, and I’m still rather at a loss to see what either has to do with nuclear war(except for the explosions in the video, but half of it was just her walking around an obstacle course).

Well, the lyrics are pretty clear:

*Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine decisions treat
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call out the troops now in a hurry
This is what we’ve waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The President is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by *

And later:

*It’s all over, and I’m standing pretty
In the dust that was a city *

The gist of it is that two friends release 99 balloons (in the original German, colour isn’t specified; the English version needed an extra syllable, hence the “red”) as a gesture of peace but the various alert systems go haywire and minterpret the radar signal as an attack, thus they over-react (being all gung-ho Captain Kirk-like) and a mass nuclear exchange follows.

The same tune was used in at least one Telus Mobility ad, showing their signature white pig being floated by a red balloon. I’m not sure why anyone though this song could be used to sell mobile phones. Oh, well…

The most recent Telus ad uses the music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and it’s a lot funnier.

The original German didn’t mention that, either.

side-by-side comparison

Actually, both versions have the Kirk reference, but in different places:

Third verse, third line:
G:Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk
E:To worry, worry, super-scurry

Fourth verse, fourth line:
G:Witterten schon fette Beute
E:Everyone’s a Captain Kirk

The German version is much more contemptuous of the military, while the English version tones it down somewhat to make the military just look stupid and over-eager.

I’m afraid that I just can’t get that worked up over this or similar atrocities.

My personal advertisment song selection irony meter burned out when Mercedes Benz selected Janis Joplin’s ‘O Lord Won’t You Buy Me’ for its commercials.

This one is just small potatos. Sorry.

I got a nice laugh out of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s use of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” Directing our adverts to the smack-shooting demographic, are we? I swear I could make a million dollars in my sleep as a semi-retarded, culturally vacuous ad writer…

Oh, well, excuuuuse me, Mr. Lord and High Minister of Deciding What Is and What is Not Pit-Worthy.

p.s. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they don’t even know how to spell “potatoes.” See Quayle, Dan for details.

Give 'im a pitting. That’ll teach 'im.

Yes, because everyone that is familiar with Iggy Pop is a heroin addict.

The one that really pissed me off was Target’s use of Devo’s Beautiful World.

It’s a beautiful world we live in
It’s nice to be alive
Beautiful people everywhere
The way they show they care
Makes me want to say
It’s a beautiful world
It’s a beautiful world
It’s a beautiful world

(commercial ends)

Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. I also forgot to mention my sincere belief that J.C. Penney isn’t doing enough to reach the German, Cold War-era nonproliferation advocate market. :rolleyes:

Heh… Phillips-Magnavox had ads using the Beatles’ “Getting Better” , but always strategically cutting off before the line “…it couldn’t get much worse”.

Selling stuff with songs about nuclear war? They’ve already used London Callling to sell cars.

Sooner or later they’ll use Holiday in Cambodia to sell…holidays in Cambodia.

And who was it—Levi’s? I’m pretty sure it was an ad for some kind of clothing—that used only the first two lines of “Fortunate Son”?

Some folks were born, made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red white and blue

But of course, they didn’t continue with

And when the band plays “Hail To the Chief”
Ooh, they point the cannon at you
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son…

Did they leave in, “I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved”? That would help sell electronics.
I also was a little revolted from the JC Penney ads this past weekend, but I couldn’t work up enough righteous indignation to start a pit thread. And I wasn’t sure whether I was upset that they co-opted the song, were clueless on the message or just that it’s an awful cover. In the end my mood was more “meh, I can’t believe I just saw that” and it was over with.

I have to mention how much I love the title of this thread. It’s so gleeful! I think next year that’s going to be my Valentine’s day greeting.