How Michael Jackson Killed Jingles

The Atlantic: “What killed the jingle? It owes its demise not only to shifts in the advertising business but also changes in the music business, and how the two industries became more entwined than ever … But if there needs to be an individual to blame—or thank—for the death of the jingle, Michael Jackson would be a good candidate. His 1984 Pepsi campaign pioneered the complete melding of pop stardom and product promotion.”

“For one ad, Jackson eschewed singing a traditional jingle and instead adapted his hit single ‘Billie Jean’—an innovation that was his idea—by revising the chorus to ‘You’re the Pepsi generation, guzzle down and taste the thrill of the day, and feel the Pepsi way’ … (Jackson, though, reportedly didn’t even drink Pepsi.)”

“In the realm of licensing old music, again, Michael Jackson had a role. In 1985 he bought the publishing rights to the Beatles’ catalog for $47.5 million. When the band’s song ‘Revolution’ appeared in a 1987 Nike ad, thanks in part to Jackson … the surviving Beatles sued Nike. An undisclosed settlement was reached, but the signal was clear: Not even the most sacrosanct counterculture bands of one’s youth were safe from advertisers.”


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