Vinyl has made a big comeback. Since 2012, the sale of LPs and singles has grown incredibly. Quite surprising for a medium that was once on the verge of extinction. But did you know that vinyl used to be a popular means of content marketing in the 80s and early 90s? Famous brands often used pop songs in their TV adverts. You’d see the advert on TV, hear the song and then run to the record store to buy the single. Then, every time you’d play the record, you’d remember that advert. What more could a brand ask for? Let’s take a look back on six top hit tunes for famous brands from the 80s and early 90s.
1. First Time – Robin Beck (1988)
In late 1988, Coca-Cola brought out its ad campaign ‘Coca-Cola is it’. The commercial was accompanied by the song ‘First Time’ by Robin Beck, an American background singer who had put out a failed solo album in 1979. With ‘First Time’, she scored a number-one hit in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. She obviously wasn’t worried about selling out, because she even changed the lyrics of her song to match the ad: ‘Coca-Cola is it’ instead of ‘for the very first time’. The Coca-Cola brand is also emblazoned on the cover of the single. For the nostalgic ones among us (what forty-something has never danced to this number?), the single is available for sale on Discogs.
2. Should I Stay, or Should I Go – The Clash (1991)
Levi’s was famous for using pop songs in its commercials in the 80s and early 90s. One of the most famous of these was ‘Should I Stay, or Should I Go’ by The Clash. The song actually dated back to 1982, but thanks to the commercial, it shot back up the charts in 1991. In Austria, the single was even re-released with a jeans label on the cover.
3. The Joker – Steve Miller Band (1990)
Levi’s was a master at reviving old hits. ‘The Joker’ by the Steve Miller Band was another tune that made a comeback thanks to a jeans commercial. The song was originally released in 1974 and have been a number-one hit in the US. In September 1990, it shot to number one in the Netherlands after appearing in a Levi’s commercial. The single is available here.
More Levi’s hits:
I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye (1985) When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge (1987) Can’t Get Enough – Bad Company (1990)
4. Driver’s Seat – Sniff ‘n the Tears (1991)
Yet another song that took on a second life thanks to an advert. This time, the brand was Pioneer, using ‘Driver’s Seat’ to plug its car radio. The tune became a number-one hit in the Netherlands in 1991 thanks to this ad. Today, you can buy the single on Discogs with a sticker on the front that says, ‘From the Pioneer TV spot’.
5. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (1988)
Heineken sent the classic ‘What A Wonderful World’ back into the top 40 in 1988. The last time the song had reached those heights was in 1968 in America, a half-year after its original release. The 1968 single is still available for sale.
6. I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke (1971)
Last but not least, the most famous and successful example of musical content-marketing. This time, the song appeared in the commercial before being put out as a single. The idea was to have a new song specially written for Coca-Cola by two successful British songwriters, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. The tune was supposed to be recorded and put out as a single by the popular British group The New Seekers.
Once it was written though, Coca-Cola decided to have it sung by a choir entirely made up of young people. The brand’s marketeers felt that this concept would be a better match for the context of the commercial.
The spot was first aired in the US in July 1971 and became an instant hit. Thousands of people called in to their local radio stations to request it. To cash in on the popularity, the Coca-Cola team decided to let The New Seekers record a pop version of the tune. That version came out under a different title: “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)”. It became an international hit. You can buy your very own copy here.