Jul 10, 2007

All You Need is Hard, Cold Cash: On Luvs, Beatles, and Crass Commercialism

I grew up listening to The Beatles, being far too young to have attended a concert but old enough for their music to have been part of the soundtrack of my youth. Thus it was with sadness I read that Luvs diapers will soon be using the Beatles song "All You Need is Love" to sell excrement-collecting undergarments.

Luvs, of course, is not the first product to feature a Beatles song in its ads, as Nike's purchase of the rights to "Revolution" opened the floodgates for cashing in on the appeal of the band's music to the Baby Boomer and Generation X demographics.

Yet there is something especially galling about the appropriation of a song with such universal idealism; one might, in a moment of jaded cynicism, take issue with the optimistic sentiments of "All You Need Is Love," but John Lennon wrote the song with an eye toward making the world a better place.

Lennon was a flawed man, to be sure, but in his all-too-short life he tried to live up to his ideals, and more importantly his work inspired many other people to live lives of service to humanity. I daresay Lennon would never approve of using this song in such a base and ridiculous manner.

Idealism takes a sharp dagger in the side with the Luvs campaign, and I am sure that I will never think of the song "All You Need Is Love" in the same way again. Thanks, Madison Avenue and Proctor & Gamble, you soulless bastards.


Anonymous said...

Kind of hypocritical for you to take ads and then whine about Luvs, ain't it Mikey?

historymike said...


1. If any of my work ever approached the quality of this song, then you might have an argument. As it stands, John Lennon had more talent in his big toe than I have shown to date.

2. My concern about this song is that it is one of the most beautiful and inspirational pieces of music to have evolved out of modern pop culture. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, this is more like a hymn than a mere pop song.

3. The complex rhythmic structures and blending of so many international melodies in this deceptively simple-sounding song alone should justify its place as a sort of musical untouchable.

4. I live in a capitalist world, and I have to eat, so I take ads on my websites. If I lived in a world in which it were not necessary to sell a small piece of my soul for a few sheckels, I would gladly chuck the ads. That being said, do you think writers should not be paid for their work? Are my words somehow less valid because I took an ad yesterday for a dieting site or for vegan shoes?

Anonymous said...

While I am not a tree hugger, a cloth diaper commercial would be more in line with Lennon's original thought on this, not the soccer mom's convenience item before she drops the kid off to daycare for her job to simply pay for the daycare.......

historymike said...

I suppose that it's hard not to get all warm and fuzzy over babies bouncing around in a commercial, Anonymous.

Still, this brings up the issue of the commercilization of children and childcare, that cult of infancy that pressures new parents into a spending frenzy.

-Sepp said...

It's blasphemy as far as I'm concerned. Proctor and Gamble should be hit with some lighting bolts.

Tina K said...

This is the first I have heard of this. I am 26, so not at the right age at all for "remembering" the Beatles being THE BEATLES. I grew up with them, love them, respect them.

It's wrong to use it out of context.

As far as capitalism, it is one thing for an artist making a choice during his lifetime to use his art for a commercial purpose. Lots of them do today.

Lennon is not around to tell us if it is alright with him to use his song for this product. I don't really care who owns the rights; it's John's song.

My hunch is that he would have disapproved. Of course, if he had lived who knows what he'd be like today. But that should be a post on my blog at a later date anyway.

Historychic said...

I agree with you 100% on this issue.

Tina K said...

I'm always happy when someone I respect agrees with me. ;-)

Ego boost.

Hooda Thunkit said...

"Thanks, Madison Avenue and Proctor & Gamble, you soulless bastards."

You forgot to verbally smite the person(s) who own the rights to the song; and they deserve more than an (dis)honorable mention, IMNHO.

They bear at least half of the blame, if not more...

Robert Mullins said...

It could be worse. Someone could be peddling adult diapers with "When I'm Sixty-Four."