13 Nineties Rockers Featured in TV Ads

Some of the decade's biggest names have "sold out"

We heard something on TV recently that made us stop dead in our tracks. No, it wasn’t another salacious update on the Kardashians or Donald Trump; it was a family of three generations singing Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.” Turns out, the nerd-rock anthem was being used in a Honda commercial. And that got us thinking about the numerous other times ’90s Rock bands made their way back into pop culture via TV ads. Here are some of the most memorable. 

Tim Mosenfelder/ Getty Images Entertainment/ Getty Images

You’re bound to get restless after singing all the way through “99 Bottle of Beer.” But it came as a shock when a Honda Pilot full of kids, parents and gramps broke out into Weezer’s geek-chic song. What’s more is that the ad was directed by Jason Reitman, celebrated for his quirky films such as .

Watch the Honda Pilot ad featuring Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” at the News Wheel. More »

Blur_Newcastle_2009_Coxon_Albarn-LauraGregg.jpg
Courtesy Laura Gregg

Before Lance Armstrong became cycling’s biggest villain, he was king of the hill. He starred in a Michelob spot in which thrill-seekers like himself drank up and rocked out to this sports anthem. The whole thing is questionable, but this was years before Blur were even thinking about releasing new material. We wonder if the beer ended up on their rider for evermore.

Watch the Michelob ad featuring Blur’s “Song 2” on YouTube. More »

Cake Short Skirt Long Jacket
William Dillon/Creative Commons

Catchy as can be, Cake’s song was made for advertising. In fact, the original video for the track starred passersby listening to “Short Skirt” on headphones, perhaps foreshadowing its eventual use in an iPod Nano spot. Talk about “smooth liquidation.”

Watch the iPod Nano ad featuring Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” at YouTube. More »

Atlantic

Oil is meant to clear away the grunge from your car’s innards. So the ad team at Pennzoil paired a grunge band with scenes of fathers and sons repairing classic vehicles and mechanics brandishing the product. This TV spot mutes Ed Roland’s vocals, but just knowing the song is called “Shine” is enough to evoke a montage of glistening rims and purring V8s.

Watch a Pennzoil ad featuring Collective Soul’s “Shine” at YouTube. More »

Flaming Lips
George Salisbury

Would you let your children hang out with freak folkies the Flaming Lips? We wouldn’t recommend it (oh, the nightmares to be had), but Hyundai latched on to the Oklahoma band’s “offbeat” vibe to promote their brand in 2013. The ad was a huge deal for both parties, airing during the Super Bowl that year. “Do You Realize” how many viewers that equaled? Around 108 million!

Watch the Hyundai ad featuring the Flaming Lips’ “Sun Blows Up Today” at Fuse’s YouTube channel. More »

Fountains of Wayne Stacy's Mom
Violeta Alvarez

This power-pop hit was cheeky enough, but pairing it with a luscious vehicle took the cake. Men ogle the Cadillac SRX and its alluring driver while Chris Collingwood sings of the pair that have “got it going on.” An especially goofy moment is when the admirers check out the Caddy’s junk in the trunk.

Watch the Cadillac ad featuring Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” at YouTube.  More »

Kid Rock Born Free
Susanne Kappler, U.S. Army

It doesn’t get any more American than this. Good ol’ boy Kid Rock crows, “I was born free” over imagery of soldiers hugging their children, fireworks booming and sturdy U.S.-built trucks zooming along the coast. Prior to hawking cars, “Born Free” was the rally cry of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Watch a Chevy ad featuring Kid Rock’s “Born Free” on YouTube. More »

Oasis All Around the World
Creation

The brothers Gallagher sure had a gift for bringing people together. Their Beatles-biting melodies and sing-along choruses lifted the masses. AT&T saw potential in the British band’s 1997 anthem as they united with SBC in 2005. In this commercial, we see circus performers and constables, images quite fitting for the jolly tune.

Watch the AT&T ad featuring Oasis’ “All Around the World” at YouTube.  More »

Rusted Root Send Me on My Way
Courtesy the band

Sort of the ancestor of the hippie troupe Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Rusted Root had a minor hit with this penny whistle-filled number in 1994. Embodying the vagabond spirit, the number fit perfectly with the rental car business. Enterprise scooped it up in 2012, making employees whistle while they worked. We imagine the royalties enabled front man Michael Glabicki to buy all the kaftans he wanted.

Watch an Enterprise ad featuring Rusted Root’s “Send Me on My Way” at YouTube. More »

Smashing Pumpkins at Pinkpop 1994
Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images

Most people don’t tend to learn the backstories of popular songs. Some giddy-sounding numbers aren’t as chipper as they appear. So it was surprising to hear the 1993 track “Today” bolstering Morgan Freeman’s inspirational speech. Dig deeper, and you’ll discover that the Pumpkins hit is actually about suicidal thoughts. Yikes. However, SP lent a cheerier song to Hyundai in 2009, the exclusive rager “Feel Our Love.”

Watch the Visa ad featuring Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” on YouTube. More »

Soungarden
Michael Lavine

Motown, disco, new-wave jazz and grunge. What do these genres have in common? All showed up in a Toyota commercial promoting the car company’s timeless appeal. Soundgarden’s menacing, driving 1992 single rips about 25 seconds in, representing the early ’90s’ sound from Seattle.

Watch the Toyota ad featuring Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” at YouTube.  More »

Supergrass Alright
Capitol

Recalling the Britpop movement of the mid-90s, one could say the purveyors of the scene were “kidults,” stuck somewhere between adolescence and Parklife. Among Britpop’s most memorable groups were Supergrass, and it seems Kellogg’s agreed when they used their jovial I Should Coco track “Alright” in a Frosted Mini-Wheats commercial. Disclaimer: Frosted Mini-Wheats will not “keep (your) teeth nice and clean,” as the lyrics suggest.

Watch the Frosted Mini-Wheats ad featuring Supergrass’ “Alright” at Vanyaland. More »

U2 Vertigo
Apple

U2 aren’t one of the world’s biggest bands by accident. Even 30-plus years into their career, they stay in the mainstream lexicon by implanting their songs everywhere. They’ve sold out for Blackberry Storm in 2008 and Ford in 2006, but their biggest commercial splash was when they collaborated with Apple on a custom iPod. Before you could say, “Uno, dos, tres, catorce,” Bono and the boys were back on top.

Watch the iPod ad featuring U2’s “Vertigo” at YouTube.  More »

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