You and I in a little toy shop

Department store chain JC Penny decided to use ’80s German pop star Nena‘s song “99 Red Balloons” in a recent Valentine’s Day jewelry ad. The opening lyrics go as follows:

“You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
‘Til one by one, they were gone.”

That makes sense for the ad. The ad’s a jewelry sale ad for V-Day, so they show a guy giving a girl jewelry as they let all these red balloons go. The whole thing’s shot in the vague soft-focus sort of way, and it seems all happy and romantic. Ideally, I suppose it also makes you want to buy your woman a heaping of gems and precious metals to dangle off her body. There’s a problem with the whole thing, tho’. See, the whole song is actually about nuclear war. The remainder of the song talks about “the war machine spring[ing] to life” and “call[ing] out the troops” and so forth. I don’t exactly bloom with warm fuzzies when I think about a city turned to dust.

Two other examples of idiotic commercial song use include Lou Reed‘s “Perfect Day” in an NFL ad (the song being about dying from AIDS). There is also my personal favorite: Iggy Pop‘s “Lust For Life”, in a commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines… “Lust For Life” dealing pretty much exclusively with drug use and abuse.

For more info on such cultural disjunction, check out Rob Walker’s article “The Commercial Clash.” He mentions the songs I’ve covered, as well as a healthy slant towards the Clash‘s use in advertising.

Categorized as Music

1 comment

  1. Um.Lust For Life is actually, y’know, about giving up drug use/abuse. It’s actually about having a Lust for Life.

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