Something Bad Happens When Ads Are Made by Children

I know that it’s typical in the ad agency business for creative types to be about 14 years old but the trend seems to be slipping onto the client side, as well. Take the current commercial for the 2009 Lincoln Continental.

Apparently, no one on either the agency side or at the client is old enough to remember – let alone lived through – the Vietnam War. I’m not sure they even read about the war or how it tore the US apart; if they had, the automaker’s current commercial would have never made it past the storyboard stage.

Right now, Lincoln is running a spot where the music is an old Vietnam-era song, Ground Control to Major Tom. (And, yes, I used to think it was Major Tong, too.) It’s an allegorical, anti-war song about a pilot who becomes lost and trapped after being shot into space for a mission he doesn’t understand.

OK, it’s one thing when a major bank used a Bob Dylan song five years ago to attract accounts from then-increasingly wealthy (and now increasingly destitute) boomers. But I hardly put The Times They Are A-Changin’ in the same category as anti-war protest songs.

Since boomers are the only people who might be even remotely interested in driving an overblown, overpriced, outsized, fuel-guzzling tank like a Lincoln, why would the agency (or Ford, for that matter) want to dredge up all those bad old memories of riots and draft cards and draft dodging and campus sit-ins and flag burnings and generation gaps? Why not use something happy like a Beach Boys number (perhaps Little Duece Coupe?) or even the Stones (maybe Brown Sugar?) from the same era.


That the agency pitched the idea is one thing; agencies are always pitching lousy ideas to clients. But that the car company execs bought it is another matter altogether. And we’re bailing out Detroit for this? No wonder the auto industry is in such bad shape.

charley-james.jpgSadly, this anachronistic problem is becoming a widespread phenomenon. The new Obama-fied Pepsi campaign also uses a lot of out-of-synch tunes from the Sixties. And, worse, the music belies Pepsi’s current play-on-words tagline: “Every generation refreshes itself.”

I wonder if any of this speaks to the millennial generation. Or even to the Pepsi generation, for that matter.

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon


  1. stu says

    I’m not sure how I got to this page or why I actually read it but Brown Sugar… really?  

    wikipedia-  ‘  “Brown Sugar”‘s popularity indeed often overshadowed its scandalous lyrics, which were essentially a pastiche of a number of taboo subjects, including interracial sex, cunnilingus, slave rape, and less distinctly, sadomasochism, lost virginity, and heroin ‘

  2. Zach (18 year old Lincoln owner) says

    Lincolns have always been tanks… can you say protection? Fuel efficiency is for pansies and the poor. A real luxury car is based on its smoothness, its looks, and the interior/technology inside.

    And the song is extremely modernized, aimed towards a younger age group. just look at the comercial. its full of special effects and has a futuristic style. and even if people relate it to a war… isnt that what were in now? 2 in which there is a huge opposition against. the song is very fitting. it is a return to when lincoln was at the very top of their game. any remixed sont up until 2002ish would be fitting.

  3. Pete says


    The car companies are run by idiots. When I first saw this commercial a few nights ago I wondered what the hell they were thinking!

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