Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ROCKIN' the airwaves (this time for Subaru) with Sheryl Crow's "Everyday is a Winding Road"








"Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer."
-
Sheryl Crow's "Everyday is a Winding Road" is a song off her second album, "Sheryl Crow" (1996). It peaked at #11 on the Billboard "Hot 100" chart that year. Later it was covered by Prince on his 1998 album, "Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic." It's now become one of the more annoying--and therefore successful--radio commercials for an automotive brand, Subaru.
-
Radio played a huge role for Subaru in 2006 in order to reinforce positive impressions for its all-wheel-drive models. Tim Bennett, director of advertising for Subaru of America, first met Crow at a Subaru-related cycling event, at a time when their ad agency, DDB, was considering hundreds of songs. Crow's ex-boyfriend, Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong, had appeared in Subaru ads for nearly three years beginning in 2003. For 2006, Subaru had beefed up its radio buy by 10%, including a special focus on Sirius satellite radio, and simultaneously reduced its presence on weekend TV, "when the brand's active owners and target buyers [presumably] were already tooling around in their all-wheel-drive models," according to MediaPost.
-
A new breed of corporate consultants had emerged by this time, matching celebrities like Crow with campaigns. When Creative License approached Crow formally, executives went into the pitch knowing she felt strongly about environmental issues. So, they showed her pictures of Subaru's low-waste manufacturing plants and talked about its commitment to "increasing green awareness." That apparently cinched the deal. Now, Subaru has become a prominent sponsor of the PBS television series "Antique Roadshow," part treasure hunt, part history lesson, and part travel adventure--all of which "resonates well" with the Subaru customer, according to their chief marketing officer. No song has yet appeared to underscore this signing . . . yet.
-
As discussed at length in ROCKIN' (page 211) automakers have been using rock & roll for many years to promote their product. Certainly one of the most successful campaigns utilized Bob Seger's "Like a Rock," the title track off the "Like a Rock" album (1986). The guitar track was overdubbed by Rick Vito andthat version of the song became a part of popular and advertising culture--promoting Chevy trucks--for more than ten years, one of the longest-running television commercial series in history.
-
Actually "Like a Rock" sounded at the time of its release as the most Seger-like effort in some time. He'd been putting quite a distance between albums at that point, as his "The Distance" had been released more than three years before. He'd even fallen a bit out of favor with the public, who now had only memories of "Night Moves," "Stranger in Town," and "Against the Wind." Funny how one song could instantly put him back on top.
-
"Like a Rock" was put into gear for Chevy in 1991 and lasted through 2004, replaced by the "An American Revolution" ad campaign. The song apparently--finally--had outlived its usefulness, but as one AutoBlog.com participant put it, "I can't think of a slogan/song that is more intertwined with an automotive product." That is, unless you remember Dinah Shore's "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" from the 1950s.
-
Crow is not exactly a gearhead, but supplied one of ROCKIN's best sidebars, "Sheryl Crow on Road Trips" (page 154). She also wrote a fine song in "Steve McQueen."
-
Her video for "Steve McQueen" is a classic. You can read about its filming, through the recollections of stunt driver David Kunz, at www.ponysite.de/bullittcrow.htm. Crow rides (or, by extension, stuntpeople ride on her behalf) a motorcycle like the one in "The Great Escape," a GT40 at Willow Springs racetrack to simulate McQueen's work in "Le Mans," and was chased by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a "Bullitt" Mustang.
-
Crow and Armstrong are no longer an item--though he has been hugely supportive of her battle with breast cancer--but upon winning his sixth Tour, he received a special gift from Crow, an overhauled 1970 GTO. Crow hooked up with Chip Foose, team captain of television's OVERHAULING, and they contrived to steal the car out of Lance's garage for its makeover. The result was a "shocked and dazed world champion."
-
-
There's also a very interesting piece on how pop songs are "repurposed," at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RepurposedPopSong.
-

1 comment:

Dave Lifton said...

Great background vocals by Neil Finn on that song, too!