GLOBAL BRIEF: Why VW is buying the Beatles. The era of the dollars 10 million jingle is here, courtesy of VW, Richard Cook reports

Pop music has been shrinking the globe for many years, but it’s a truth advertisers have been relatively slow to pick up on. That’s about to change.

Pop music has been shrinking the globe for many years, but it’s a

truth advertisers have been relatively slow to pick up on. That’s about

to change.

Volkswagen is preparing to trump the record dollars 8 million Microsoft

paid the Rolling Stones for the rights to use Start Me Up for the launch

of Windows 95. Last week, the German car giant confirmed it had entered

discussions with a view to securing the rights to a raft of Beatles


It wants the songs for the massive US launch campaign of the new VW

Beetle ( Beatles, Beetle, geddit?) which is due to premiere in the US in

a couple of months. The tunes would then form the bedrock of a global

campaign that would take in first North and South America and Asia

before launching in Europe, probably early next year.

And yet it is just 12 years since Michael Jackson paid the Beatles

dollars 48 million for practically their entire music publishing arm in

a deal dismissed as the antics of a madman. ’Wacko’ Jacko, the pundits

agreed, was paying over the odds just to indulge another of his passing

fantasies. Two years ago, Jackson sold the same rights on to Sony for

ten times what he had paid a decade previously - and commentators became

more sparing with the use of the ’Wacko’ epithet. And as it turned out

it was advertising that had a lot to do with Jackson’s prescience.

Advertisers, it seems, have finally caught on to the fact that music is

crucial to global brand development, for the simple reason that it is

the one commodity that can really smooth over local cultural


Last week, VW was merely prepared to confirm it had entered discussions

- after all, the litigation that the very first Beatles-related spot

caused is still fresh in everybody’s mind. It’s ten years since Nike set

one of its grainy black-and-white basketball epics to the backdrop of

the fab four’s minor classic, Revolution, but no- one is likely to

forget the ensuing dollars 15 million lawsuit. But, if the car giant

gets its way, one thing seems certain - the day of the dollars 10

million jingle is officially here.

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