Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Drifter’s Escalade: Bob Dylan's Despicable Cadillac Commercial
Early one mornin’ the sun was shining,
I was layin’ in bed
Wonderin’ if there was any way at all
I could make some more bread…
USA Today reported yesterday that Bob Dylan has filmed an ad for the Cadillac Escalade, to begin airing in November. And the theme of this week’s episode of his wonderful Theme Time Radio Hour on XM will be… Cadillac. This piece of integrated cross-promotional brand synergy comes in two forms: a 30-second TV spot and the admittedly charming, Theme Time-centric two-minute "vignette" below.
Rock legends, like the rest of us, deserve to live handsomely, even if that means mining their back (or front) catalog to make a quick buck. Despite what the aging hippies & beatniks will tell you, Dylan’s music doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to him. If he wants to sell “I Shall Be Released” to, pardon the expression, plug Metamucil, that’s his prerogative. But to endorse one of the most gas-guzzling, obnoxious, ostentatious, overpriced, dangerous and generally reprehensible SUVs on the road is disturbing indeed.
The Escalade is the unofficial ride of two of society’s most loathsome demographic segments: gangsta rappers and nouveau riche suburbanites. Most of Dylan’s fans drive Subaru Outbacks and Toyota Highlanders, pickups, Priuses or perhaps one of Ford’s resurgent Mustangs. The rest of them take the subway or hitchhike. Anyone in the market for an Escalade probably doesn’t know, and certainly doesn't care, who Dylan is. And even the most hardcore, bootleg-mongering Dylanite is unlikely to be persuaded by the Riverboat Gambler’s presence to lay down sixty grand on something that deeply offends their core values.
Dylan has never shied from commerce, but his choices were usually quirky. A few years back, he did a TV spot for Victoria’s Secret set to his stalker dirge “Love Sick.” Let’s see... half a million bucks or so to fly to Venice, hang out with some of the world’s most beautiful women wearing lingerie and wings… he probably canceled a tour to make that happen. Last year, he did a fun, straight-ahead performance of "Someday Baby" that was equal parts iPod/iTunes ad and Modern Times promo.
Rock Turtleneck isn’t ready to throw their massive Dylan archive into the bonfire yet. But an Escalade? Why? Let's hope that, as his friend Frank Sinatra was wont to do, Dylan is quietly giving these earnings to an orphanage, halfway house or down-on-his-luck riverboat gambler.