There’s a new Nissan commercial that features a young couple rock climbing at night using their Pathfinder’s headlights to illuminate them. The music they’re playing is the opening of the song “Heroin” by the Velvet Underground. That’s right, they’re using Lou Reed’s love ballad to smack in their commercial.
Say what? Did anyone at Nissan bother to look at the title of the song? Did anyone bother to, oh I dunno, listen to the lyrics?
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s some tidbits:
'Cause it makes me feel like I’m a man
When I put a spike into my vein
Heeeerrrrrrrooooooooiiiiinnnnnnn, be the death of me
Heeeerrrrrrrooooooooiiiiinnnnnnn, it’s my wife and it’s my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I’m better off and dead
Because when the smack begins to flow
I really don’t care anymore
Ah, when the heroin is in my blood
And that blood is in my head
Then thank God that I’m as good as dead
I can’t believe they used this in a friggin commercial, or maybe I’m unaware of the important “SUV-driving-rock-climbing-china-white-using” demographic.
I don’t recall anyone sampling GWAR’s “Baby Dick Fuck” in a commercial yet, maybe they can use that next…
Which of the lyrics are in the commercial? If they didn’t use the offensive ones, the only pissed people are the Velvet Underground fans who are already pissed because they sold out.
Pfft, none of these companies care about what the songs say.
I mean, take the cruise line that uses Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” as a theme in its commercials. When I think of that song, I think of “liquor and drugs,” “the flesh machine,” “I’m through sleeping on the sidewalk,” and of course everyone’s favorite heroin movie, Trainspotting. Does any of that say “family vacation fun” to you?
(Well, it probably does to some of you, but you’re not gonna get any of that on this company’s cruises.)
None of the lyrics are in the commercial, I was just very irritated that they are trying to sell cars by using the pretty, melodious beginning of that song. Maybe they should have included the screeching violin going beserk in there too.
And as matter of fact, I am a pissed Velvet Underground fan that’s already pissed b/c they sold out.
I was also shocked when they used it because I knew what the song was about.
It is pretty safe to say that the majority of people have just no clue what this song is about anyway.
But I was very surprised any company would be associated with such a controversial subject!
I haven’t seen the commercial yet. Is this an American ad?
In any case, before anybody else get’s pissed at the members of the Velvet Underground for selling out because they let “Heroin” be used in an SUV commercial, just keep in mind they may not control the rights to use the song.
In truth, this doesn’t surprise me too much. You can never underestimate the cluelessness of advertisers with regards to hitching a product to a particular piece of music. After all, Wrangler Jeans used the opening to CCR’s “Fortunate Son” in a series of flag-waving ads without considering the sharply critical content of the lyrics.
Actually, they probably want people to get the reference.
NDP beat me to it. That commercial pissed me off so much.
While they probably know, I’m fairly certain that they don’t care. When they use a piece of music, advertisers only care whether or not it will get people’s attention. One of the methods that they use to achieve this is using a piece of music that is familiar or distinctive, preferably both. What lyrics may come later are irrelevant to them. Subtext is also irrelevent. In Chevy’s current set of adds, they’re using the section where Meatloaf asks “Let me sleep on it” from Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Do you think they care one iota that he’s asking to sleep on it because he’s trying to put off committing to his girlfriend so that he can get laid without attaching any obligations to it? Nope. They’re just using some convenient lyrics while simultaneously appealing to nostalgia in 35-55 year old people.
Given that advertising creatives are among the most pop culturally aware professionals in America today, I imagine that the people responsible for the commercial didn’t just listen to the lyrics – they probably have them memorized. They probably love the song, and they were probably thrilled to work it into something that a gazillion or so people are going to watch.
And given that the lyrics aren’t used in the commercial, the commercial itself promotes heroin use about as much as Finding Nemo promotes lesbianism.
There’s a pretty funny Onion article about “Lust for Life” being used in commercials. I’d link to it but the site is forbidden here.
So, “Let me sleep on it” is from a Meatloaf song? It sounded vaguely familiar but I was not sure where it was from until now.
I like to think of an Abbie Hoffman-ized version of those car ads: “Let me steal it, baby baby let me steal it! Let me steal it, and I won’t give it back in the morning!”
Well Dunlop already used “Venus in Furs” (a song about masochism) to sell tyres, so I guess the Velvet Underground/automobile collection was well established.
the Onion is forbidden here? Why?
Lou Reed is my idol, my favourite musician and I just love him but… isn´t he whealthy enough to stop selling himself so much? Why he shows so much disrespect for his own music that us, fans, love so much? He was for real, by heaven´s shake!!!
Reed appeared himself in an Honda scooter commercial in the mid 80s (using the song “walk on the wild side”!!!) and even in another one of American Express!!! (Victor Brockis “Transformer, The Lou Reed Story”, chap. 18)
Oh, hell, even Lou has a price I guess…
I never said the commercial itself specifically promotes heroin use, but since using already-known songs in commercials is the new hip Marketing thing car companies do, (ie Dirty Vegas, that “Just Breathe” song), they had to know that even if people weren’t familiar with the song they would look it up on the Internet and find out about it. Seems like unnecessary controversy to me.
I suspect this has less to do with advertiser’s cluelessness than it does with their contempt for their audience. I’m sure they know all about the song, they just assume that the people watching it are a bunch of stimulus-response morons who will buy anything they’re told to if the commercial is at least mildly entertaining.
So if someone who is culturally aware enough to recognize the song sees the commercial, are we supposed to work it into the commercial message? Will Nissan be the death of me? Will Nissan be my wife and be my life?
How controversial do you really think it’ll be, though? At this point, the only people I’ve heard complaining about “Lust for Life” being used in a cruise ship commercial are Iggy Pop fans disappointed in yet another sellout, not conservative groups decrying the use of a song in favor of drugs.
I can see your point, but I don’t think there’s a big history of outrage that demonstrates that Nissan should be worried. I may be overlooking something, though.
At any rate, in answer to your original question, I’m sure that everyone who signed off on the commercial was aware (or made aware) of what music they were using, and decided that the risk of controversy was worth it.