In March 1987, a black-and-white Nike Air advert appeared on television that was unremarkable but for one detail: its soundtrack had been plucked from the sacred back catalogue of one of history’s most recognisable bands, the Beatles—the first time, in fact, that one of the Fab Four’s songs had been used for such a purpose. To complicate matters, the surviving Beatles were unaware: its usage had instead been cleared, in part, by John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, seemingly without consultation. Unsurprisingly, a messy lawsuit soon reared its head; a many-limbed beast that lived for two long years, finally put to rest in 1989, out of court, the advert banished forever. Much swifter, however, was the retribution served by the furious Beatles fan who reacted to the commercial by way of this letter, sent to Nike’s advertising department shortly after the advert first aired. The letter now hangs, I am told, at the company’s head office.
March 30, 1987
Dear Sir or Madam:
This letter of complaint is in response to a very nauseating advertisement of yours which I saw on television yesterday. From your complete lack of taste you have created a commercial for your “Michael Jordan” shoes which exploits, defiles and utterly insults Beatles’ fans, and all others of musical distinction. Your debasement of the Beatles’ song, “Revolution”, in the commercial ad is apparently indicative of your lack of integrity as a business. Your tactic, obviously, is to use the Beatles’ universal popularity to sell your product. Have you sunk that low? “Is nothing sacred anymore?”, as the cliche goes? Your only motive is to make more money for your greedy selves, and in the process you seemingly could not care less that you have trampled and befouled the precious memories of millions and millions of people throughout the entire world. Your kind makes me puke; you low, vacuous, malodorous perverts. Your dearth of sensitivity is equaled only by your plethora of obnoxiousness. To your credit, you have waited nearly seven years since the death of John Ono Lennon; but it was obviously not done out of respect (Huh? What’s that?) for the deceased.
Throughout my high school years as a basketball player, onto my college years, and up to present day, I have bought your athletic shoes. However, as of this very day, I can assure you that I, and many of my friends, will never, EVER, contribute in any way whatsoever to your sickeningly corporate-selling tactics. You know, with people like you in the world, euthanasia has untapped possibilities.
Thank you, and I hope you choke.
Very untruly yours.