It seems like every cluster of TV commercials contains at least a couple of products featuring a Classic Rock soundtrack. And why not? The music has shown incredible resiliency, it is powerful, and it now spans generations. Products as diverse as Microsoft and Cadillac have successfully used Classic Rock anthems effectively, and now Fidelity is featuring Paul McCartney and his music in their current campaign.
So what can go wrong? Buick went to the Classic Rock archives in 2005, integrating Aerosmith's "Dream On" into their umbrella campaign. And of course, the whole vibe of these commercials was wrong. The song didn't match the car or the mood and flow of the commercials. In spite of using one of the biggest hits in Classic Rock history, this is proof that it takes more than just a great song to make a great campaign.
For the most part, the use of these iconic Classic Rock songs has been good for the genre (and of course, the format). It exposes them to a wide audience, and usually creates an attractive, memorable context. But like a bad music video, using the wrong song in a mediocre or poorly targeted campaign can have dire effects. We'll still enjoy "Dream On," but the faster we can purge those Buicks from our collective memories, the better.