Friday, August 03, 2012


A few months ago, Volkswagen asked to use a song by the indie-rock band Beach House for a car commercial. The band declined, but shortly afterward, a Volkswagen ad appeared with a very similar sounding song. Ad agencies that want the feel of a famous pop song, but can't get the rights, sometimes try to get as close as they can without being sued. In a story that originally aired in 2001, Bob takes a look at the nefarious underworld of soundalikes.

Comments [5]

Patrick King

Just a typographic correction, the "Helvetica-esque" typeface to which Brooke refers is not very Helvetica-like at all. It's a proprietary redrawing of Paul Renner's Futura from 1927 and has been Volkswagen's sole typeface for years. The redesign is much more fluid and attractive than the original.

Aug. 10 2012 04:58 PM
Ryan Page

I think the best example of this is the adidas commercial with faux napalm death in it:

Aug. 10 2012 11:41 AM
Mike White from Westland, MI

I'm sure that if you look around the NPR studios that you're going to find at least one or more music bed library collections perhaps "AirCraft" or another similar company whose sole job consists merely of trying to capture the "flavor" of what's hot on the radio today. For several years I worked at a commercial company and we would get in a new CD or two every month (that dates me -- this was the early '90s) with dozens of music beds cut to :15, :25, :30, and :60 length. My favorite had to be one called "Grunge City" which replicated the "Seattle Sound". There were tunes that masqueraded as Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Nirvana, and even Alice in Chains. Somehow this disc managed to make it with me when I left the company. I'll have to share it with you some day as it's pretty hilarious. However, I wouldn't get too bent out of shape about these sound-alikes as it's an industry that's been going strong for years and will as long as music rights to the real songs are too expensive.

Aug. 07 2012 11:00 PM

Other agencies recently ran into this problem with the Black Keys. Avoid demo love, go original.

Aug. 06 2012 10:31 AM
Margo Lynn from CT

I was amused that in Brooke's intro of this story she committed an unfortunately common violation of another area of intellectual property law, by improperly using a registered trademark ("Xerox") as a verb. A seasoned journalist should know better, to have it happen on this show was doubly surprising to me.

(PS: Whoever created the tags spelled Sheryl Crow's name incorrectly - must not be a fan of hers!)

Aug. 05 2012 04:44 PM

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