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30 Years After Nike’s ‘Revolution’ Beatles Commercial – Rolling Stone

30 Years After Nike’s ‘Revolution’ Beatles Commercial – Rolling Stone

February 23
10:22 2017

Michael Jordan flying above the rim and then shoving his hand in front of the camera, a horde of swimmers running into water for a triathlon, a game of pick-up basketball, cyclists, weight-lifters and John McEnroe complaining on the court. Nike’s black-and-white 1987 Air Revolution TV ad is full of iconic sports imagery, yet it had one huge difference from all its predecessors: the Beatles’ 1968 song “Revolution” blasted as the soundtrack.Before Nike’s commercial, any classic pop tune that appeared in an ad video was a cover, a facsimile, like Sunkist’s re-working of “Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys. Sure, Lou Reed appeared in a 1984 ad for Honda’s Elite scooters, “Walk on the Wide Side” creeping in the background. Although the spot ends with Reed sitting on a scooter, taking off his shades, and saying, “Hey, don’t settle for walkin,'” none of Reed’s actual vocals from the track are included.Nike used the real thing: John, Paul, George and Ringo. Soon after the ad hit the airwaves in mid-March, the band’s record label, Apple Records, sued for $15 million, their lawyer claiming that the band hadn’t given their “authorization or permission.” George Harrison said the spot opened the door for the band’s songs to be used to advertise everything from “women’s underwear” to “sausages.” Yet Yoko Ono – who held shares in the Beatles’ record company – had helped broker the original deal. She thought the spot might introduce a new generation to her late husband’s music. Nike stopped running the ads early in 1988, and the case settled out-of-court the next year on terms that have been kept secret since. But the ad didn’t recede into video history. If you watch any spot now, you can feel the influence of the Air Revolution video. A shot of power-walkers is followed by a young, high-socked baller on an open court. Weekend warriors busting their guts in the gym, runners collapsing after races, even an infant shuffling around. Legends share the space with amateurs, giving the sense that we all share the same emotions. The ad perfectly captures the range of feelings within sports: moving, struggling, striving and sometimes failing.

Source: 30 Years After Nike’s ‘Revolution’ Beatles Commercial – Rolling Stone

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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