A Work of Cognitive Dissonance at Its Very Worst

By Published on .

Client: Victoria's Secret
Agency: In-house
Star Rating: 1

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam,

And admit that the waters around you have grown.

And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.

If your time to you is worth savin',

Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone,

For the times they are a-changin'.

Another music icon purchased, bag and baggage, by The Man.

Bob Dylan sings in praise of the Victoria's Secret brand lingerie.
Janis was bad enough
Wasn't it bad enough when they co-opted Janis Joplin, who prayed with brutal irony for the Lord to buy her a Mercedes-Benz, to flog Mercedes-Benz? Then there was the wholesale merchandising of the Rolling Stones, who ridiculed the consumer culture with their seminal declaration of '60s alienation "Satisfaction" thusly: "When I'm watchin' my TV/And that man comes on to tell me/How white my shirts can be/But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke/The same cigarettes as me/I can't get no, oh no no no."

Oh, yes, yes, yes. In the intervening 40 years, the Stones have been satisfied to sell rights to Motorola, Apple iMac, Scotch videotape, Allied Dunbar insurance, Windows 95 and Insignia body spray.

Insignia body spray, for God's sake.

How sick
Jimi Hendrix, outlaw guitarist, has posthumously pitched for Reebok, Wrangler and three different car companies. How sick is that? Makes you wonder what's next -- Tupac for Weejuns? Kurt Cobain for Zoloft? Bob Dylan for Victoria's Secret?

Answer: Bob Dylan for Victoria's Secret. In one of the most disconcerting matches of celebrity and product in advertising history, Dylan saunters into an opulent Venice ballroom making goo-goo eyes at a winged lingerie model.

"I'm sick of love," he sings in the background. "I wish I'd never met you."

That makes two of us. What a disturbing scenario. You have to do a double take to see if Dylan's got wings on, too, because he doesn't look healthy. And no wonder; the man is 173 years old. Whereas the model in the ad seems to be in her upper teens. The exchange of glances, if not actually criminal, is certainly repulsive.

The wrongness of it all
But apart from the grossness, there is the wrongness of it all. Folk rockers who burst into our consciousness singing war protests should not be doing lingerie commercials in the middle of a war. It's discordant, unseemly, a betrayal. Yes, maybe the times they are a'changin', but must he throw it in our face like this?

Dylan perhaps no longer considers himself an anti-establishment figure and that he thus has no responsibility to his long-ago devotees. If so, he's wrong. Bob Dylan, like Coca-Cola, belongs partly to the public. Unilaterally changing the formula begs hurt feelings, and backlash.

Cognitive dissonance
Finally: Bob Dylan = underwear? How? By what calculus? Dylan has been many things over his career, including the conscience of a generation, but a sex symbol is not one of them. Talk about cognitive dissonance. If this is a ploy to connect Victoria's Secret with rock 'n' roll eroticism, there were many, many better choices.

For instance, are Alvin and the Chipmunks available?

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