First There Was A Mountain Then There Was No Mountain Then There Was

Reveries: You may call him mellow yellow (quite rightly) but creatives on Madison Avenue are calling pop icon Donovan Leitch and asking him if they can use his tunes in their commercials — and he’s usually happy to make the sale, reports Brian Steinberg in The Wall Street Journal. Lately, you may have heard Donovan’s “Happiness Runs” in an ad for Delta Airlines or “Catch the Wind” for Volvo.
As for Donovan himself, he seems only too happy to answer a series of questions about his new kind of commercial success, as posed by Brian Steinberg, starting with: “…Are you concerned about being accused of selling out?” Donovan: “Embracing the modern world and invading the pop charts is what the bohemian folk singers did … I consider commercials not selling out, but selling in, and of course, attracting many younger fans who have already written to me from the commercials saying they discovered my music or rediscovered it in an ad, and found something special to them that was missing in the artists they were listening to.”
When asked about Bob Dylan’s 2004 appearance in an commercial for Victoria’s Secret, Donovan replies: “… It didn’t bother me … It’s using pop culture as pop art … I didn’t think it was a problem if Bob wants to do lingerie. After all, he wore makeup on many an occasion, you know.” And as to the potential of the rest of his catalog to be used in other ads, Donovan says: “I have amassed an enormous amount of songs about every particular condition of humankind — children’s songs, marriage songs, death songs, love songs, epic songs, mystical songs, songs on leaving, songs of meeting, songs of wonder. I pretty much have got a song for every occasion.” He adds: “… There isn’t three weeks go by … that a film company or TV company or commercial agency doesn’t ask for one of my songs … There is another pile on the table today… “



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.