Bob Dylan is getting into the whiskey game.
Last week, the 76-year-old music legend from Hibbing, Minnesota, debuted Heaven’s Door, his brand-new "collection of super-premium craft American Whiskeys." Featuring Dylan's artwork on the packaging, the $50-$80 bottles will begin hitting liquor store shelves later this month.
"We both wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story," Dylan says in a press release issued by Spirits Investment Partnership (SIP), his corporate partner. "I've been traveling for decades, and I've been able to try some of the best spirits that the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey. I am happy to be partnering with [SIP CEO] Marc [Bushala] and our entire team as we bring Heaven's Door to the public."
Dylan is just the latest celeb to help brand booze products. Among them: Top 40 star Nicki Minaj (MYX Fusions wine), movie star George Clooney (Casamigos tequila), and slime-ball rapper G-Eazy (Stillhouse whiskey). And Heaven's Door is just Bob's latest adventure in consumerism. Since the early '00s, the '60s counterculture icon has established a fat brand-shilling résumé -- from underwear to yogurt to supercomputers.
Should we get all Pete Seegar at Newport on his ass, decrying a once-pure artist who sold his soul to capitalist overlords? Naw, Dylan's the G.O.A.T., and his irrepressibly odd Dylan-ness permeates even the glossiest of car commercials. Instead, we're here to celebrate his top marketing moments. So grab your wallets, Baby Boomers: Bob's got something to sell!
As you'll notice in the video below, Dylan called his shot -- Babe Ruth-style -- way back in 1965. That's when a reporter asked which commercial interest he'd conceivably sell out for, to which Dylan smirked, "ladies' garments." Laughs all around. Fast-forward 39 years, and we see Dylan growling his 1997 song "Love Sick" as he makes bedroom eyes with a Victoria's Secret model in what appears to be an abandoned castle. Ya know, the classic underwear-buying sales pitch.
Remember when those dancing silhouette iPod ads became a legit pop-culture phenomenon? I’m tempted to say “weird times,” but NFL fans have been giddily screaming “dilly dilly!” at one another for more than a year, so maybe we’ve always been dumb marks for advertisers. Anyway! To help boost sales of his 2006 album, Modern Times, Dylan strummed “Someday Baby” in a black-and-white spot for Apple’s iPod and iTunes, complete with jumping/jiving silhouette cutaways.
In a nod to his 1965 masterpiece Highway 61 Revisited, we see Dylan cruising down a desert highway in an XM Radio-equipped Cadillac Escalade, clocking a cool 12-20 MPG the whole way. "We tried to be very respectful of the fact that he’s a legend," Liz Vanzura, global marketing director for Cadillac, told the New York Times in 2007. "He’s not talking about the fact that we’ve got the biggest navigation screens." In fact, he's hardly talking at all, as we only hear Bob tag the ad with "What's life without the occasional detour?"
For a guy who’s as romantic about Americana as Dylan, it’s strange he chose to slum it with Pepsi instead of Coca-Cola. That’s exactly what he did in this 2009 Super Bowl ad, however, with a questionable assist from lead Black Eyed Pea Will.I.Am. Together, they soundtrack schlocky stock footage of Americans throughout the ages with “Forever Young,” culminating in a ham-fisted metaphor -- Dylan old! Will.I.Am young! Everyone likes Pepsi! The remixed song failed to rewrite one unquestionable truth: Nobody prefers Pepsi.
What the hell is Google Instant? Turns out it's what normal human beings mostly refer to as predictive search. In 2010, this was a new feature for tech giant Google, one that was demonstrated to the public via Dylan's 1965 posterboard-flippin' clip for "Subterranean Homesick Blues."
We don’t see Dylan in Chobani’s 2014 Super Bowl ad, though we do hear his classic 1966 track “I Want You” as a grizzly bear ransacks a small-town general store in pursuit of yogurt. The townspeople are left horrified; the bear is left satisfied by the great-tasting, all natural treat; and Dylan’s coffers are left richly lined. Bing, bang, boom: We’ve got a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl talker. The then-fledgling yogurt brand would go on to dominate supermarket 'gurt aisles, perhaps due, in part, to Dylan and a dairy-crazy beast.
Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers owned the 2014 Super Bowl halftime show, but Dylan was the advertising star. "Is there anything more American than America?" Dylan, all-time master lyrical wizard, asks at the beginning of his other ad that year, this one for Chrysler. What follows is a two-minute protectionist love letter to U.S. auto manufacturing, plus visuals featuring mid-century nostalgia clips and Dylan prowling a pool hall. Ironically, Italian automaker Fiat purchased Chrysler that same year.
"The times they are a' ... getting fucking weird," wrote City Pages in a 2015 blog post headlined "Bob Dylan comforts lovelorn supercomputer in new IBM ad." The writer quickly descends into paranoid ramblings about "the oncoming Robot Wars" and machines "thirsting for human blood to lubricate their circuitry." What a weirdo! Anyway, enjoy Dylan conversing with Watson, IBM's Jeopardy!-playing, wise-cracking, hyper-intelligent robot who'll one day enslave us all.
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