Victoria’s Secret Ad

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Way back in January, the whole world (well, people on Twitter) got really upset that Bob Dylan appeared in a Chrysler ad during the Super Bowl. He’d sold his soul! A betrayal! Won’t somebody please think of the children?! How could he do this to us? It was all very alarming. And, of course, it all happened once before.
In 2004 Dylan appeared in an ad for Victoria’s Secret, who were selling a new type of underwear. The ad only ran for three weeks, but it was one of the most talked about ads of the year. It generated op-ed pieces in USA Today, in Entertainment Weekly, and, horribly, in Slate (click through for their embarrassing headline – I won’t even dignify it by putting it here). If there had been a Twitter, I’m sure that it would have exploded.
I’m not really sure what to say about this ad. I’ve included the longer version here (there is also a 30 second edit). I like this video because someone has tagged a famous section of his San Francisco press conference (December 1965) to it in a charming fashion. Oh the irony!
So, yeah, it’s an ad for underwear. It features a model in angel wings and underwear. Dylan’s role is to sort of leer at her. They play “Love Sick”. There’s not really any way to make that come across as not creepy. It is sort of creepy. That’s advertising pretty much in a nutshell. Creepy.
A lot of the discussion at the time – and probably still today – focuses on motive. Why would Dylan do this? For the money? Does he really need the money that badly? He tours all the time – he must be making money. For the free trip to Venice? I’m sure Dylan can afford a trip to Venice (his website is acting up – I can’t look up how often he has played there). To ogle a semi-clad model? I’m sure he’s had more than his fair share of those opportunities. To mess with his fans? That would be my own guess, but the fact of the matter is that I have no idea why Dylan does almost anything that he does. This is no more or less odd to me than his appearance on Dharma and Greg, or his beard at Newport. Dylan’s brain doesn’t seem to work in a way that I understand.
So, this is his first ad for a product, and it is for lingerie. It’s a weird piece of the puzzle that is his life.

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