Yesterday, we lost one of our most influential musical legends
with the passing of David Bowie, who, at the age of 69 years
succumbed to cancer, as reported on his social media accounts. On
Facebook, the statement noted, "David Bowie died peacefully today
surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with
cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you
respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."
He did not go quietly, and has received a plethora of accolades
from publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York
Times, The Guardian and the L.A. Times for his most recent album,
"Blackstar," described as his first jazz collection.
While we have yet to savor his latest work, here, we take a look
back at how his creative spirit and music inspired many worlds,
As a creative muse to many industries, in 2013, David Bowie was
the subject of an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the
U.K., inspiring this stunning image from Craig & Karl for
Vogue U.K.'s "The Culture Edit" blog.
That same year, Mr. Bowie appeared in one of his weirdest, and
finest videos, for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)," directed by
Floria Sigismondi via Black Dog Films. In it, he appears alongside
actress Tilda Swinson as one-half of a suburban couple, but things
take a very strange turn when a "celebrity" duo enters their lives.
Mr. Bowie said the clip depicted "a 21st century moment in its
convergence of age, gender and the normal/celebrity divide."
In 2013 he also appeared in a lush film for Louis Vuitton,
directed by Romain Gavras as part of the brand's "L'Invitation Au
Voyage" series. It's a blast back to 18-century Venice, where Bowie
plays the harpsichord in a room full of dandies as he serenades the
film's heroine, Arizona Muse. The spot features a remix of a song
from his album "The Next Day," "I'd Rather Be High." Earlier in his
career he appeared in ads for brands including Pepsi (with Tina Turner) and
David Bowie's final video, Lazarus, was just released three days
ago – and in hindsight, is a clear indication to his fans
that he does not have long to live. In it, he's seen lying on what
seems to be a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged over, and then is
seen to be floating above it. Producer Tony Visconti has now
released a statement saying it was deliberately created and timed
as a "parting gift" for his fans. It seems even in death, he was
Bowie was an early proponent of the music video long before it
was an established art form. Iconic videos include "Ashes to
Ashes," in which he's dressed as a creepy version of Pierrot and
performs a funeral march for Major Tom.
In "Life on Mars?," his blue eye makeup and matching jacket
against a white background gives him a distinctly alien
The ad world paid tribute to Mr. Bowie today with John Hegarty
posting via BBH on social media, "The Man Who Fell to
Earth has finally gone home." Mr. Bowie's creativity often inspired
creativity in others, and this tweet featured a GIF by British
artist Helen Green, in which she charts Mr. Bowie's changing style
from the beginning of his career to the end.
His music as well served as the foundation of several campaigns.
One of the most notable efforts of recent years was the Lincoln
"Hello Again" campaign out of Hudson Rouge, for which Beck, along with
director Chris Milk, reimagined Bowie's track "Sound and Vision" in
a 360-degree orchestral event that later became a virtual reality
Bowie's tunes even made train commuters look "heroic" in this
2007 ad for Swedish Railways, created out of King and directed by
A Janelle Monae cover of Bowie's "Heroes" also served as the
uplifting backdrop of Pepsi's World Cup 2014 campaign, which at the
time was the brand's biggest-ever global effort.
And of course there was "Lust for Life." Iggy Pop is best known
as the track's frontman, having written the lyrics and performed
the track, but Bowie is credited as composer. The tune was long the
soundtrack for many of Royal Caribbean's ads via Arnold Worldwide.
Many at the time, however, criticized the incongruous choice of using a
song celebrating drug culture to promote a cruise line.
Another Iggy Pop collaboration, "Success," also made officer
workers look pretty badass, in this 2006 Cadillac ad out of
Audi's 2004 ad "Progressions" out of McKinney & Silver mashed up two Bowie
tracks, "Rebel Rebel" and "Never Gonna Get Old," to create an
entirely new message. The spot was so successful it sparked a contest in
which Teams Audi and Bowie challenged fans to mash up more of his
tunes, giving one lucky a winner a TT coupe (with remix rights
going to Bowie).
Ann-Christine Diaz is the Creativity Editor at Ad Age. She has been covering the creative world of advertising and marketing for more than a decade. Outside of the job, she can be found getting in touch with her own creativity.
Alexandra Jardine is Executive Editor, Creativity / U.K. Editor at Ad Age. Based in London, she has written for Ad Age since 2011 prior to which she worked on U.K. marketing and advertising titles for more than a decade, including as news editor for Haymarket weekly title "Marketing" and freelancer for Campaign, Media Week and The Guardian.