One of the most famous campaigns came around 13 years ago when Cadillac wanted to revive their brand and build a 'younger' audience. They latched on to Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll and saw the brand build a much stronger image. Notice that when GM had to shed a number of brands Cadillac survived. You can relive the spot here.
Ad Age recently reported that Pete Townshend and the Who are looking into more licensing options for their songs. Of course they already have a strong presence in the NCIS TV shows but no doubt there are a lot more opportunities. Now they are taking the studio masters from the 60s and 70s and putting them through a number of re-mixes to make the songs sound a bit more contemporary. You can take a listen to a bunch of Who classics and imagine them in many commercials in the Ad Age article - just scroll down on this link.
But sometimes you have to wonder about the relevance of a song that may be approaching 50 years old on a Millennial generation that was born 20 years after the song was a hit. Take a look at the Nissan commercial here.
It's hard to imagine a group of mid 20's Millennials really 'getting down' to a song that came out in it's first version in 1968 (nearly 50 years ago). But, at least here they picked up the 1981 version with Billy Idol (it's only 33 years old).
No doubt these spots are effective. Nissan surely did their homework before launching this campaign and a number of other vehicles they are marketing with Classic Rock songs. We often see Classic Rock stations score some pretty healthy shares in 18-34 demos even though most of the Classic Rock stations have an average music year around 1978 to 1981 when you analyze their hourly era spread. Yes, Classic Rock is great music and many titles have truly stood the test of time but as that era ages we have to wonder how long 'rummaging through mom and dad's record collection' will live on?