Dear Advertising Agencies,
I remember when I saw my first Fred Astaire movie. It was Flying Down to Rio, which was Astaire’s first movie as well. And his first pairing with Ginger Rogers. It was delightful. I also remember when I was flipping through the channels once, and saw Fred Astaire dancing around with a vacuum cleaner. I remember thinking “Huh, that’s weird, I thought Fred Astaire died a decade ago,” and “I don’t remember Ginger Rogers looking like a vacuum cleaner.” Apparently, the use of dead celebrities in advertising is quite common, and has, of late, come under fire. Saatchi & Saatchi, a British advertising agency who were employed by Airwair who make Dr. Martens, released a series of photos of dead rockers Kurt Cobain, Joey Ramone, Joe Strummer and Sid Vicious wearing togas, standing on clouds, all happily clad in Dr. Martens boots.
Now this is just shitty. First of all, I don’t think any commercial featuring a dead person is going to make me want to rush out and buy a product. Seeing a re-animated Orville Redenbacher listening to an iPod and eating popcorn did not give me a hankering for his salty, buttery kernels (I’ll take Paul Newman’s sexier and more alive brand any day of the week). I’m not running to the Gap to pick up a pair of black skinny jeans just because Audrey Hepburn danced around to an AC/DC song. Why do you think that having dead people promote your product is going to make us want them any more than having living people do it?
And do you really think you are somehow paying homage to these people by using their image against their will to push a product on people? And of all people, these four rock stars? I mean, if Smash Mouth all died in a plane crash, I would guess that they would be okay with their image being used to advertise a brand of, I don’t know, Tempur-Pedic Mattresses (the only mattress endorsed by NASA!). But somehow I doubt that four rock stars, known for their anti-establishment punk rock sensibilities would agree to be posthumous spokespeople for a brand of shoes. And let us all not forget what is possibly your most shameless effort:
In a word, dear advertising CEO’s, it’s not cute. It’s fucked up and disrespectful. I don’t care whose permission you’re getting to advertise what, unless the celebrity’s corpse reanimates itself to sign some contracts, leave it alone. There are plenty of living celebrities out there willing to push your products for you.