Use in Nike Advertisement
In 1987, "Revolution" became the first Beatles recording to be licensed for use in a television commercial. Nike paid $500,000 for the right to use the song for one year, split between recording owner Capitol-EMI and song publisher ATV Music Publishing (owned by Michael Jackson). Commercials using the song started airing in March 1987.
If it's allowed to happen, every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women's underwear and sausages. We've got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent. Otherwise it's going to be a free-for-all. It's one thing when you're dead, but we're still around! They don't have any respect for the fact that we wrote and recorded those songs, and it was our lives.“ ” — George Harrison (November 1987)
The three surviving Beatles, through their record company Apple, filed a lawsuit in July 1987 objecting to Nike's use of the song. The suit was aimed at Nike, its advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, and Capitol-EMI Records. Capitol-EMI said the lawsuit was groundless because they had licensed the use of "Revolution" with the "active support and encouragement of Yoko Ono Lennon, a shareholder and director of Apple". Ono had expressed approval when the commercial was released, saying the commercial "is making John's music accessible to a new generation".
The "Revolution" lawsuit and others involving The Beatles and EMI were settled out of court in November 1989, with the terms kept secret. The financial website TheStreet.com included the Nike "Revolution" advertisement campaign in its list of the 100 key business events of the 20th century, as it helped "commodify dissent".
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