Visa: Please Leave Home and Spend

Yesterday, I talked about the Luvs commercial that used the Beatles song All You Need is Love with the lyrics changed to “All you need is Luvs.” I mentioned how there is a special part of hell reserved for everyone involved with producing the commercial.

Representatives from hell contacted me yesterday and told me that they won’t take those people because even hell has standards. They demanded an apology.

OK. I’m sorry. But where will they go if hell won’t take them?

What is to be done with the people from Visa and The Moody Blues? You know The Moody Blues. They were a great band back in the sixties and seventies. They sang about spirituality and love. Today, they sing about paying for things with your Visa card.

Granted, this is a beautifully produced spot, so you can almost forgive it. Morgan Freeman does the voiceover and everyone loves Morgan Freeman. But it’s still a commercial for a credit card company telling you to rack up charges at a time when people should be saving money and not adding additional debt. Visa doesn’t care because they’re in trouble. Credit card companies are losing money as unemployed consumers default on their payments while everyone else stops using their cards.

As for the Moody Blues, presumably they’ve made a fortune over the years. How much money do they need? When is it enough?

I realize that my views on this topic are holdovers from a time when it was considered bad for musicians to sell out and use their music in commercials. But just because attitudes have shifted, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a bad thing.

What do you think? Vote in the poll.

By Marc Librescu


6 responses to “Visa: Please Leave Home and Spend

  1. FlowerGirl

    Well…just so you know, Justin Hayward (who wrote Tuesday Afternoon) does not own the copyrights to it. So it was not his decision to use the song for the commercial anyway. So no fair to condemn him for something he had no choice about.

    But personally, I see nothing wrong with the Moody Blues earning money. Their music is their job and how they make a living. I think the commercial is nicely done and showcases the song well.

    • I appreciate the correction, but since I don’t take comments like that at face value (no source), I had to check for myself. I found this Last.FM:

      While still only 17, and against Wilde’s advice, Hayward signed a publishing contract with the skiffle artist and record producer, Lonnie Donegan. This was a move that Hayward would go on to regret as it meant that the songwriter’s and composer’s rights to all the songs he wrote up until 1974 would forever be owned by Donegan’s Tyler Music.

      I stand corrected.

      The subject of musicians whoring out their music for commercials is a larger discussion than can fit in comments in a blog. As I mentioned in the post, I’m old enough to remember a time when musicians allowing their music to be used for commercials was known as selling out and it wasn’t considered to be a good thing.

      If a musician was starving and had to sell a song to a commercial in order to feed his family, I’d say that would be something he had to do. But for a musician who already has millions of dollars in the bank (I’m not referring to anyone specific here), I’d say that he doesn’t need the money and he shouldn’t do it.

      That’s just my opinion. I believe that some things are more important than money. Ironically, most of the bands who are selling out used to believe that once. But they have to pay for those large estates.

  2. I’d like to point out that this particular commercial is about the VISA debit card. It is a check card, not a credit card. It saves you a trip to the bank, but you’d better have the money in the bank.

    In regards to the attitude that musicians, or any artist should hold their work up to only the highest, purist use is really pretty idealistic. Once the music is recorded or the painting painted, it is SOLD. Business is business, after all.

    I understand what you mean about the infringement of art for commercial use, as it does seem like the people we hold in very high regard are being treated as commercial commodities, but I think that has happened because of the baby boomer generation. It is an attempt to rekindle those fond memories.

    As for your position that those who have money don’t need more money- who ever thinks that they don’t need the money? Justin Hayward himself said that when things were really going well, and they were making money, he spent the money! Actually, I think it is wonderful that the Moody Blues can still make money on their performances to this day. Did you know they are still touring? Check them out!

    • You’re right. I was off the mark on this one twice. That invalidates some of what I said in the post, but not my point about bands selling out.

      Funny thing…as I was reading your comment, the Chase commercial that uses Instant Karma was on TV. If John Lennon was alive today, he would not allow his music to be used for a bank commercial. Yoko Ono feels that she needs more money. I think that Yoko has enough money and she should leave John’s music alone.

  3. Hayward doesn’t own all his songs from ’66-’74, he joined the long list of idiots signing away their publishing like John Sebastian & Tommy James who got slaughtered for a few million on their record contracts alone and a few million more on the publishing of their 1960’s hits used in commercials etc.. The Moody Blues play indian casinos quite often as their income is primarily touring as their back catalog and the rare new release are quite poor sellers in ’10. Yoko has no complete say in Beatles songs in commercials, Sony & the Jackson estate own the songs but let the surviving Beatles & Yoko & Olivia have a moral say.

  4. Yes, someone pointed that out earlier. My biggest problem with The Moody Blues is how high the prices are for tickets to their concerts. I understand that they have to make a living, but I’m not wealthy enough to afford a decent seat at one of their shows.