Ask a Dilettante – Canned Heat is Full of Fiber

I just saw a commercial for a cereal, I think it was Total, that used a Canned Heat song as the background ditty. It really bothered me for some reason, and I’m not sure why.
— Abbie H., Chicago

Though you didn’t really ask a question, Abbie, I get your drift. The growing number of 60s rock songs in TV commercials right now is…not exactly creepy… just…wrong in some way.

On the one hand, it’s great that advertisers are reaching out to the 80 trillion graying-at-the-temples baby boomers, trying to talk to them in their language. But with the exception of a few still keeping the faith, most of that generation is zoning out to Michael Buble now. At most, bands like Canned Heat are a distant memory, summoned only when something brings to mind the opening sequence of Woodstock (the movie).

On the other hand, even though these songs are classics, it becomes hard to separate the music from the commercial if you see it more than a couple of times. Do you really want to think about a particular cellphone service provider when you hear Sly and the Family Stone? Do you want Buffalo Springfield to make you think of a fiber laxative? How about Neil Young equals hair dye for men?

Advertisers try to appeal to the “me” each of us wishes we were/pretend we are. So maybe putting Dennis Hopper in an IRA commercial talking about retirees busting loose and doing more than sitting on a beach in Boca takes the target audience back to the time when they might have had some bite. To the time when Dennis Hopper had some bite. And that somehow translates to…putting money in the bank. Whatever.

Makes me wonder what advertisements to my generation will look like when we near retirement, should the world still be turning by then. Smells Like Teen Spirit playing while a balding Johnny Knoxville talks about IRAs?

[This column originally appeared in its entirety on Houstonist.]

One response to “Ask a Dilettante – Canned Heat is Full of Fiber”

  1. Smells Like Teen Spirit? Seriously?

    How about “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes as background music for an Alzheimer’s medication commercial.

    Or is that too obvious?

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