Music is an integral part of advertising, to be sure. Pick the right music and it can be a creative signature for years. United Airlines has done this with George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue." But I would have liked to be in the room when the creatives at FCB, Chicago decided it was a good idea to use Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" for KFC. Using a song that has long been an anthem for defending the Confederacy to sell fried chicken? Am I the only one squirming and laughing at the same time?
Am I overstating this? You decide. Here's one verse of the song: "Well I heard Mister Young sing about her. Well, I heard ole Neil put her down. Well, I hope Neil Young will remember A southern man don’t need him around anyhow."
This is a reference to Neil Young's "Southern Man." A stanza from that song, which tells of the changes coming for the Southerners whether they like it or not, goes: "Southern man better keep your head. Don't forget what your good book said. Southern change gonna come at last
Now your crosses are burning fast. Southern man"
Sweet Home continues: "Sweet home alabama Oh sweet home baby. Where the skies are so blue
And the governor’s true. Sweet home alabama. Lordy Lord, I’m coming home to you. Yea, yea montgomery’s got the answer."
That Governor? He was George Wallace, who championed segregation of the races. For any clear thinking person, white or black, George Wallace was a bad guy. Not just a product of his generation and upbringing. He stood in front of the doors of a school, trying to keep black students out. He ordered up fire hoses to put down demonstrations. Go to any road house in Alabama, and on many a night you can still hear this song being belted out by folks clutching their long-neck bottles and throwing a salute to a Confederate flag.
Clipping the refrain from "Sweet Home Alabama," using it to sell fried chicken nationally, and ignoring the meaning and intent of the song seems pretty stupid. But hey, that's just me.
Then again, aren't there some people complaining about Paul McCartney singing "Get Back" in the Super Bowl for this line: "Jojo left his home in tucson, arizona for some california grass." I just wonder if the same people fired up about "Get Back," or those who think Teletubbies and SpongeBob are promoting a gay agenda, will also complain about the use of a Southern Road House song rhapsodizing about the good ol' days of George Wallace to sell chicken and biscuits from Berkeley to Baton Rouge and every town in between.