Devo whips it for P&G Swiffer

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"Whip it," the 1980 song that was the anthem of the band Devo's rage against a society dehumanized by industry and commercialism, is now the theme of a Procter & Gamble Co. TV campaign for the Swiffer line of home-cleaning products.

In a new version of the tune, Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh substitutes the lyrics "Swiffer's good" for the "Whip it good" of the original. In the commercials, middle-age affluent women perform robotic dance moves as they use Swiffer dusters and Wet-Jet floor mops.

Devo agreed to perform the altered version for Swiffer advertisements because, Mr. Mothersbaugh said, "It was so absurd. We like messing with the boundaries between art and commerce."

Now president of Devo Inc. and owner of a West Hollywood, Calif., production company called Mutato Muzika, Mr. Mothersbaugh creates music for cartoon shows including "Rugrats" and "Clifford the Big Red Dog." He said Devo's move into product promotion "is coming full circle, to be commenting on a conspicuous, consumptive culture ... and to be fed into the hopper and spit back out the other side."

Origins

The five-member band from the Ohio Rust Belt originally burst on the national scene with a 1978 appearance on "Saturday Night Live." "Devo" was short for devolution and a reference to an arcane but then-fashionable political protest movement that railed against what it saw as industry and commercialism taking human society backward.

The latest phase of Devo's crossover into the full commercialism it once resented was orchestrated by Swiffer's ad agency, Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, New York. The Devo "Swiffer's good" commercials are the first full-blown branding effort from the shop since it picked up advertising responsibilities when the brand moved from now-defunct Publicis network D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York. (See the spot: AdAge.com QwikFIND aao92j)

contributing: hoag levins

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