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John Lennon U.K. Car Commercial Reignites Rock in Ads Debate

March 4, 2010 11:14 AM ET

Whenever rock & roll appears in advertisements, some fans protest. A few years ago, Rolling Stone tracked the Worst Rock Sell-Outs Ever! ("All you need is Luvs" ... diapers) and the Best Rock Sell-Outs Ever! (VW adopts Nick Drake's "Pink Moon"). It's the debate that rages every time the Moldy Peaches give a song to a Bahamas resort, Dr. Dre teases Detox for Dr. Pepper, or Bob Dylan promotes Pepsi. One rocker with experience in this arena, Ryan Adams, complained about being nagged over his Gap ad. But in truth, rock stars have appeared in dozens of Super Bowl commercials.

A new car commercial featuring archival footage of John Lennon is currently causing a bit of an uproar in the U.K., and some Beatles fans are questioning why Yoko Ono permitted French automaker Citroen to use footage of Lennon discussing the creative process. The backlash has prompted Sean Lennon to respond via Twitter, where he defended his mother's attempt to keep his famous father in the "public consciousness."

"Look, TV ad was not for money. It's just hard to find new ways to keep dad in the new world. Not many things as effective as TV," Sean tweeted. "Having just seen ad I realize why people are mad. But intention was not financial, was simply wanting to keep him out there in the world… No new LPs, so TV ad is exposure to young."

This isn't the first time the posthumous use of John Lennon in a commercial has sparked controversy: As Rolling Stone reported in December 2008, a digital version of Lennon was used in a commercial for One Laptop Per Child.

In the commercial for Citroen's "anti-retro" DS3 model, Lennon says in the interview footage, "Once a thing's been done, it's been done. So while this nostalgia, I mean for the '60s and '70s, looking backwards for inspiration, copying the past, how is that rock n' roll? Do something of your own, start something new. Live your life now."

Related Stories:
John Lennon Appears Digitally In New "One Laptop Per Child" Ad

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

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