Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Me

So I’m sitting here watching “The Today Show” when a commercial for Purell Hand Soap comes on, with MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” in the background.
Then it occurred to me that I just saw him a month ago dancing in a Nationwide Insurance commercial to “U Can’t Touch This” implying “Hey, you too can go broke if you spend all your record royalties on parachute pants. So get Nationwide.”
Clearly, using famous songs in commercials is pervasive, but many songs are being reused quickly for different brands. I’m wondering if the agencies involved care about that–and do the brands care? Does it dilute the message of the commercial or does it help to make a popular song the focal point of the spot?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. When it comes to songs about not touching things, nothing beats that one.
    I detest formula’s but I don’t think that I will hate that song because it is used in several different commercials . . . (you can’t touch it.) Some creative is just so good it can’t be basterdized; ie. a billion cheezy Simpsons shirts did not ruin the credibility of the Simpsons.
    As for going broke, I think that is something that American’s relate to and forgive. Parachute pants on the other hand, well that was just a big mistake. Again something that we can all recognize and agree on. That fact that Hammer has the guts to poke fun at himself and admit his mistakes (even only for the money) help’s buoy the whole scenario.

  2. S**t!
    Now I got that song in my head and I had to go to iTunes and buy it.
    His number 1 hit of course.
    “This is Word – You Can’t Touch This”

  3. It’s pretty much like how celebrities endorse a certain brand. There might not be any connection between the brand and the brand ambassador. The celebrity or the song used cannot become the idea. It has to be used smartly. Nobody will buy a certain brand or product because just because of the song. I guess this is one easy way out for most agencies. I would put this under ‘Lazy advertising’ category.

  4. See, there you go, Steve–it’s all part of Hammer’s master plan. You bought the song. Now, are you gonna go get some hand soap?!?!