U2 Says No To $23,000,000 (To Maintain The Integrity Of A Favorite Song)

Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune music critic, spoke with Bono last week, at Bono’s request. The rock icon wanted to clear the air about several issues he had with Kot’s writing about his band. In the midst of the discussion, Bono said he’s proud of U2’s association with Apple, but points out that U2 turned down $23 million from another ad world suitor.

Bono: We have turned down enormous sums of money to put our songs in a commercial, where we felt, to your point, where it might change the way people appreciated the song. We were offered $23 million for just the music to “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
Kot: I might have to consider that [laughs].
Bono: We almost did. We sat down. I know from my work in Africa what $23 million could buy. It was very hard to walk away from $23 million. So we thought, “We’ll give the money away.” But if we tell people we’re giving the money away, it sounds pompous. So we’ll just give it away, and take the hit. That’s what we agreed. But if a show is a little off, and there’s a hole, that’s the one song we can guarantee that God will walk through the room as soon as we play it. So the idea that when we played it, people would go, “That’s the ‘such-and-such’ commercial,” we couldn’t live with it. Had it been a cool thing, or didn’t have a bad association, or it was a different song, we might’ve done it.



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.