Subaru and…The Pogues?

Cars and music are two of my greatest passions in life. In fact, they easily go hand in hand. What can make a blast up your favorite country road even better? Easy, by picking the music that enhances the experience for you. As soon as radios were installed in cars, music and the automobile became permanently entwined. While there are those of us who happily trundle down the road in silence, or accompanied by the dulcet tone of news radio, I personally cannot drive unless I have music on.

Which partly explains a dilemma I have-when advertising fuses music to cars. Granted, this has been going on for ages, but when it’s a band that exists outside the mainstream, whose fans are more of a cult following than casual listeners, acceptance that the artist sold the song is heartbreaking. Again, it’s not new. In 2000, The Smiths sold “How Soon Is Now?” to Nissan in a global advertising campaign for the Maxima. Earlier this year, Sia covered The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” for the Lincoln MKT. But perhaps the most shocking use of a song in a car commercial is Subaru, who used The Pogues’ “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” to advertise the Forester. Why? Read on!The Pogues, for those of you who may not know, are a band that fuses traditional Irish music, influenced by punk and folk music. The commercial features a Hockey Mom running her three kids to practice and games, and the frenetic pace of “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” matches the hurried lifestyle Subaru is showing you. But there is one glaring problem. The song is about death and dying. The message that Subaru conveys at the end of the commercial is the safety of the Forester. So why would they choose this song? I have contacted Subaru regarding the choice of music here, and as soon as I hear from them, I will let you all know.

In any case, what is your take on artists selling their songs to sell cars? Is it just business? Letting them pay their bills? Or does it take away from the song for you? Or lose respect for the artist? Let The Garage know, and be heard!

Want to see the commercial?


  1. says

    I'm in to obscure music as much as you, especially the punk era. Unlike many though, I just don't buy the whole "selling out" gripe that many fans use. In fact, quite the opposite. I feel an artist should earn a whackload of cash for the fruits of their labour.

    Where integrity comes in to the picture for me is the final decision of what products an artist decides to match their work with. In this case, when the request came in, Shane and friends (or whoever bought their rights for a case of whiskey) should have said "ahem, you do know that this song is about death…don't you?"

    I would be willing to bet that a senior ad agency manager (all of 30 years old) heard the song and thought it sounded fun and busy, without actually listening to the song. The 55 year old marketing manager at Subaru probably didn't have a clue who The Pogues were and thought it was a catchy tune.

    In other words, a marketing oops. Funny thing is that I'll bet 90% of Americans don't know who The Pogues are and the ad will not change.

    • Michele Hart says

      I just liked the lyrics “let me go down in the mud” from the commercial & investigated further to find out the name of this song & who played it?!? Come to find out, it’s not Dropkick Murphy’s, or Flogging Molly, but the Pogues! Had never heard of them, who knew, now they have a new fan : )

      So There Ya Go, You Sell Out Haters!!!!!!

      • jjmerlocklives says

        It's a little standard to give you this reply, but I'm not sure you can fathom how frustrating it is to read the frequent "so there's this band, the Pogues, who sound like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly?" comments. Those two latter groups are such weak*** ripoffs of the Pogues, argh. Shane MacGowan is the real deal – insane, an utter mess, and an utter genius. Those other arseholes don't belong in the same thought as the Pogues and MacGowan. The Pogues music comes from a place that's real – those other two groups are just playing at pretend.

  2. Fred says

    Yea I'm off the demographic norm too, and I'm older too. So I see the music of my youth trying to sell me stuff I don't really want. Frankly it's just tv marketing bs and all it can do is register in my brain enough that maybe I'll check it out the next time I go shopping. Now if they got Captain Beefheart to do a commercial….

  3. says

    Let's not forget it's a TV commercial…most of us have conditioned ourselves to click away from them anyhow.

    Maybe if a cruise line hadn't bought Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life", Subaru could have used that.

  4. Jouni says

    Oooo …Captain Beefheart…while we’re at it let’s hook up Tom Waits too. And Screamin’ Jay Hawkins as well…if we’re gettin down, let’s get down! :-)

  5. Joe says

    It's probably a better fit than when the Pogues' Sunny side of the Street was used in a Caddy commercial. They used the part of the song that contained these lyrics:

    So I saw that train
    And I got on it
    With a heartful of hate
    And a lust for vomit
    Now I'm walking on the sunnyside of the street

  6. Kirk says

    I am an American and a huge pogues fan I just another shat myself when I realized the song I was hearing was coming from the tv not my iPod I was watching law and order uk.

  7. David V says

    In this case, I recognized the Pogues right away and was a little surprised to hear them in the commercial, but there have been some other commercials that featured obscure artists where the commercial actually opened my doors to someone new to listen to. In that respect, I really can't find fault with the music being used in commercials, it helps them get a wider audience. You get the same with song placement in movies and TV shows, which usually doesn't get as much griping as the commercials do. I guess part of the reason people complain might be because of the jingles written specifically for commercials being so notoriously bad, they cheapen the whole idea of songs used for advertising. It does seem like they should look for something more appropriate to use for this ad, but I don't recall any catchy "Harried Hockey Mom" songs that they could have gone to…

  8. Pete Jones says

    I find fault with it, bet your ass. It's my job to keep my music elite and obscure. Once a good song from a good band is played on some corny advertisement, all these hipster wankers start coming out of the woodwork, "I've been listening to the Pogues since I was eleven! Shane McGooglin all the way, man!" Any time any art form is drowned in the mainstream, it suffers. Tom Waits put it best when he said, "If Michael Jackson wants to work for Pepsi, why doesn't he just get himself a suit and an office in their headquarters and be done with it?"

  9. JAB says

    When I first heard this subjugation of musical artistry to the tyranny of crass commercialism, my immediate reaction was "A curse upon you, Oliver Cromwell!"

  10. Lisa says

    Unfortunately the historic ways of selling music aren't paying off anymore. As long as older recordings are traded so freely on the internet musicians will have to find other ways to make a living. The real income is in commercial endorsements. That car can be sold in ads in every different language and specifically the Asian cultures are paying big bucks for 80s and 90s recordings. We aren't providing a pension for our self-employed artists and I can tell you that bands like the Pogues aren't retiring wealthy. If they have to make a living on commercial use of their music, then good for them for being able to make a living that most of the rest of us in the music world still dream of.

  11. Kristina says

    There are three or four Black Keys songs on various commercials. I’m to the point where I don’t like the band anymore because all I think of are the ads. Thank you, Zales.

  12. says

    Just saw the ad, and I'm all for it. Why shouldn't the monotony of TV be broken by happier memories? If you're angry about the ad being used, stop watching TV! Power to the Pogues

  13. Gregory Sundborg says

    I am 58 years old and I have enjoyed the Pogues from their very beginning! I hope this ad brings the band a fat paycheck. As for what the song is about only true fans would know.

  14. sconzj says

    Main reason? The tune is catchy and 99.9% of Americans have no idea who The Pogues are and what the song's about. Oh, and The Pogues need the cash. Why else are the tickets to their upcoming shows $75? Whatever, I'm going to the Boston and New York ones.

  15. TBONE says

    What does it matter what the song is about? It's not as if you can understand a fuckin' word of the lyrics in the first place.

  16. AP-NYC says

    I found this bulletin board via Google because I wasn’t sure that it was the Pogues who were featured in the Forester commercial. By the second or third time I heard it, I had to make sure. I love hearing the song (I have no Pogues albums–and you know I’m old if I refer to albums, LOL!), and I think Suburu is waaaay cool for using it. Normally I don’t pay attention to car commercials, but this one grabbed my attention through the song. I’m not going to run out and buy a car, but I will grab some Pogues recordings to put with my Sex Pistols, Clash, and the rest of my treasured punk collection.

  17. Susan says

    I love the Pogues and I was thrilled to hear this commercial! Now if someone could work "Fairytale New York" into a commercial. Umm — bail bonds places, maybe?

  18. Ryan says

    Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain would never sold their song to a comercial. But those days are long gone. If the Pogues would do it then I'm pretty sure anybody will.

  19. Maureen McMahon says

    I LOVE this commercial. I just looked up TV Ad Pogues and this popped up. I wasn't sure they would use it in a commercial but the music perfectly portrays boys at that age!! And hockey MOMS!

  20. Wendy says

    They were probably drunk off their butt when they signed the contract and laughed all the way to the bank!

  21. momoffour says

    I have no idea who the Pogues are and hadn't heard the song before, but I LOVE this commercial. It's fun and I love it with the footage. I don't know or care about the lyrics. It's just fun and brightens my day when it comes on. I'm a mom in my late 40's, and I just want to hear more Pogues!

  22. stann says

    The music is good but I thought it was Mike Ness singing, or his band , Social Distortion. Instead I learn it's an old school Irish punk band. Go figure! Stann

  23. JeffMI says

    Those three little gingers need to get a few teeth knocked out on the ice though fighting, barf on the ice, and then give a Shane McGowan smile. Then it would be true to the band!

  24. Kennedy says

    Every time I hear this commericial I stop in my tracks to watch and listen. Makes you want to jump into a Subaru and go to hear the real band! Hope it stays on the air for a very long time.

  25. Shalmanezer says

    'Until I looked it up and landed 'ere, I was thinking it might 'ave been Black 47.'
    At least this one's by a real band with a substantial oeuvre, not like that Lincoln ad that had the bluesy / jazzy sax riff up front of a fast beat.

  26. Dave says

    A few years back I think it was Nissan that used a CIV(ex-Gorilla Biscuits) song. It was weird but it got me to go find that album again, because I loved that band.

  27. Bassfiddleman says

    Most obscure band to be featured in a car commercial has got to be The Fall. I for one love that these bands are getting some air and some cash! This is what happens when Generation X takes over. Whoot!

  28. james says

    I think they are assuming most buying a subaru will not know the pogues and the clip of the song is fun and upbeat if u take it at face value. Also I agree with a few of you that a band does need to get paid, I know you wouldn’t like it iff your family or friends said you can only make so much at your jobs.

  29. tonythefisher says

    I concur with you about the "selling out" gripe. I have worked for a Mom and Pop Pizziaria here in Colorado for the last four years, when we were just four (4) stores, now we are nine (9) stores. A lot of the people I've worked with over the years have complained about our expansion, but I've likened it to keeping a Garage Band, in the garage FOREVER, just so YOU can stay "Old School"! A Band, like a company, WILL exspand and be "discovered", regardless of how stone age a fan/customer wants to be! What, I'm going to dislike the Pogues less because of a song in a commercial? Nope!

  30. w.kroy says

    Many of the comments appear to overestimate how "in the know" they think they are about music. The Pogues have been around forever and a day and many people know about them. Frat boys to girls who listen to Lady Gaga knows of The Pogues, thanks to iTunes and Pandora.
    You also underestimate marketers. Do you really think that a car company as huge as Subaru would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a commercial and not consider any effects of the music? This is plain and simple – they know who their audience is, and they are catering to a generation of people who love The Pogues and have children. You are the target market. Congratulations.

  31. KevinNYC says

    Also the children they use in the commercial certainly look Irish. A lot Irish-American kids I know play hockey. The thing I wonder most about this commercial is was Fall From the Grace of God always their first choice? Or did they shoot the footage and try to find appropriate music for it.

    Are they specifically targeting the Irish as a demographic or they just thought it would translate?

  32. melanieMc97 says

    I think it’s great! I first heard it & just knew it was shane, so I was telling my friends & stuff… tonight the commercial came on again & I thought maybe I’d better make sure! I bought a popes cd about ten years ago & have concluded that shane is THE MAN! Has anyone checked out that video on vevo with the priests, “Little Drummer Boy”? Talk about great…..

  33. the Q says

    I love the Pogues. I just find it hard to believe that a "respectable" worldwide corporation would want a drunken lot with no teeth representing them. Not to mention the insane lyrics don't match the product… AND…Their strong political stance might not be very corporate also.

  34. The Spud says

    I don't know. Why do political candidates, especially conservatives, use "Born in the USA" at campaign rallies? The clip sounds cool. The pace, tone and the lyrics that they include in the commercial match the scene playing out. Made me look up the song and buy it on iTunes, and now I'm thinking of buying an Impreza. Guess it worked, even on my rational, potlically savy, overeducated brain. I know I'm being manipulated by "The Man"; and I'm loving it….

  35. Joe says

    Microsoft wanted to use "it's the End of the World…." for its Windows commercial. REM said no so they asked the Stones for "start me up." Jagger/Richard said "how much ?" Makes me like the Stones more and REM less. Let's not take ourselves too seriously guys. Rock on Shane.

  36. says

    cheesy, seen this commercial a few times, certainly targeting the huge east coast Irish market – the area around rural MA where there is a huge Irish community. I wouldn't buy this car based on the Irish theme. very cheesy – strange marketing decision.

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