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GoldieBlox, The Beastie Boys, and The Super Bowl
By: Maryann Fabian
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An eager toy start-up brand makes an incredible promotional video and bungles it by using a Beastie Boys song without permission. Did they really go “from hero to zero” like Adweek contends? Oh, no. GoldieBlox played it just right and became a bear.

A lot happened while you were getting your turkey on. To bring you up to speed...

GoldieBlox, a new toy company for future female engineers, rewrote and used the lyrics to the Beastie Boys’ song, “Girls” in its promotional video. It’s very clever and parodies “the pink aisle” of dolls and tea sets and princess wannabee toys available, “cause all our toys look just the same/And we would like to use our brains.” One of the three girls in the video actually raps the new lyrics while an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine of said pink toys is put to other use.

Oopsie. The company never checked copyright infringement laws. And, more importantly, deceased Beastie Boy Adam Yauch specifically requested in his will that the band’s material not be used in ads. GoldieBlox then had the nerve to sue for the right to use the song but quickly relented. Right before Thanksgiving, the company finally agreed to scrap it. And in an open letter to the band, they wrote, “We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.”

GoldieBlox says they want to “level the playing field” but are they playing fair? Was this a case of "do what we want first, ask forgiveness later"? How can a new business play dumb about copyright laws?

During the time of the public squabble, GoldieBlox was in the running for a free Super Bowl ad paid for by Intuit. The Small Business, Big Game competition was in its final stage and based on votes. The other three finalists are the equally deserving Locally Laid, a Minnesota free-range egg producer; a dog-treat maker, Barley Labs of Durham, North Carolina; and an Idaho fertilizer company called Dairy Poop. We won’t know for sure which small business won a free Super Bowl ad until February, but unless the Beastie Boys’ fans came out in droves, the publicity could only help.


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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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