Would the Rolling Stones “sell out”?
That was the question presented on last night’s (April 1st) episode of AMC’s Mad Men, thanks to a proposition from the Heinz Company. When a Heinz executive envisions “Time Is On My Side” reworked as “Heinz Is On My Side” as a jingle for baked beans, leading man Don Draper and foot-in-mouth sidekick Harry Crane head to a summer of ’66 era Rolling Stones concert to meet backstage with the band and its infamous manager, Allen Klein. (Mad Men is no stranger to the British Invasion bands, with Don taking his daughter Sally to the Beatles’ famous 1965 Shea Stadium show and the Stones’ “Satisfaction” being used in season four episode “Summer Man.”)
The ad men are hopeful: Crane says Klein sounds “greedy” — an accurate description, as later evidenced by the ABKCO founder’s acquisition of the rights to all pre-1971 Stones songs in an ugly legal battle with the band. More importantly, the Stones wrote a jingle for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies U.K. ad in 1963, which actually happened (watch below). Once a sellout, always a sellout, Draper seems to think.
But there is a flaw within the plotline, specifically as it relates to licensing rights and the Stones. “Time Is On My Side” was not written by the Rolling Stones. If Heinz wants to turn “Time Is On My Side” into a Heinz jingle, they’d need to negotiate with the song’s original writer, Jerry Ragovoy, or Jimmy Norman, who contributed additional lyrics in 1964 – or rather, the publishing company that owned the rights to the song at the time.
The star appeal for Heinz is, of course, the Rolling Stones, so perhaps more important than the song itself is the superstar band. If so, legally-obtained use of “Time Is On My Side” could be just another phone call (and fat check) away, were the Stones – and more importantly, Klein, who ruled the band’s financial world with an iron fist – interested.
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So do the Stones sign on for the Heinz jingle? Don Draper struggles not with neatly commanding pitch meetings and beautiful young things, yet this situation slips away from him. The band doesn’t even make a physical appearance in the episode, titled “Tea Leaves.” While Don’s busy playing the uptight father figure by questioning a wannabe Stones groupie about her fascination with guitarist Brian Jones, Crane accidentally signs the opening act, U.S. pop group the Trade Winds (who actually did tour with the Stones in 1966), to a jingle deal with Heinz. Apparently Harry can’t tell the difference between a British accent and an American one.
Just another mess for Draper to clean up, with plans to convince Heinz that the Trade Winds will be a better fit for a commercial. Because nothing sells baked beans like a band whose ratio of minor hits to name changes is about equal.
Perhaps The Who would make a better fit for the jingle. After all, the English band included a brief track (albeit a parody) called “Heinz Baked Beans” on its aptly titled 1967 album, The Who Sell Out.
–Jillian Mapes, CBS Local