Billy Joel was once regarded by advertisers as one of music’s “untouchables” – artists like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty and R.E.M. who shun the idea of aligning one of their popular tunes with an ad for a new kind of soup, sneaker or SUV. Now the artist sometimes known as “The Piano Man” has allowed his songs to be used in ads for The Gap (“Just The Way You Are,” sung by his daughter, Alexa); Merrill Lynch’s Bank of America (“My Life”); and New York State tourism (“New York State of Mind”).
“An artist with the status of Billy Joel is iconic, and can help elevate a brand,” said Paul Greco, director of music at JWT, the large ad agency owned by WPP Group of Britain.
The crowd of top rock and pop artists adverse to use of their work in commercials has thinned in recent years, as anyone who has heard The Who, The Clash, The Band and even Bob Dylan singing on behalf of everything from Jaguar to Diet Coke to Chobani yogurt can attest. Joel’s interest in such stuff only spotlights how eager advertisers are to latch on to the world’s most popular singles even when there is so much music already available to them.
Alexa Ray Joel – “Just The Way You Are” on iTunes.
Diederick sings and plays “Piano Man” – Holland's Got Talent
Photo credit: Jeff Schock