Meet Sharin Foo, the new CEO of KMart. Raiding her past brilliantly, the erstwhile Raveonettes bassist tapped the band’s “That Great Love Sound” to appropriately fizz up the embattled retailer’s rep with the kids, the muthafuckin’ kids. The resulting ad campaign depicts the dimpl’d and dishy stars of the WB’s “7th Heaven” and “Reba” smiling from behind their mom jeans and oxfords. Foo’s licensing coup proves that, if Yankee youths love anything more than belly shirts and Adam Sandler, it’s traditionalist Dutch rockers with a hard-on for the Ronnettes and the Jesus & Mary Chain. Sharin Foo – a girl for all seasons!
It was really only a matter of time. In a music-hungry ad landscape that licenses Smashmouth’s “You Are My Number One” the very WEEK the band’s latest effort is released, wasn’t it inevitable that Digable Planets’ finger-popping 1993 single “Cool Like That” would find new life as the pitch music for laser-guided toothpicks, biggie-size Swifters, or some other must-have retail item? As it turns out, Target Corporation was the big winner, grabbing the track for a shimmering, colorful spot that seems to be about well-fitting shirts. The ad was a big part of the commercial breaks during this year’s Teen Choice Awards. But you might have to scratch the ‘breaks’ from that last sentence, since the TCAs have stopped pussy-footing around with jamming its outsized product placements and promotional plugs into the conventional framework of an awards show, choosing instead to cook everything—commercials, cross-branding, and Ashton Kutcher—inside the same silvertone coke spoon. But, you know, it has rubberized handles, so it’s safe for kids.
Summer’s end. Back to school sales invade on all sides, from Pampers to The Pampered Chef. In another licensing coup for Smashmouth, JC Penny’s new back-to-school ad begins with Young Miss turning off her alarm clock’s “Good Morning.” Cue the ‘Mouth’s “Then The Morning Comes” as our girl scampers about her bedroom, wondering what to wear for the first day. Cut to Mom, who arches an eyebrow at her daughter’s indecision. With a smirk, Mom says “low-rise Mudd jeans with the gypsy print peasant top.” In real life, parents and concerned citizens rail against low-rise jeans in schools and the soft-core antics of Abercrombie’s quarterly catalog. But in the frantic media universe that surrounds the hearts, minds, and wallets of their teenagers, mothers know best. Even when the best is dressing your daughter like a coked-out Shakira impersonator. Three recent events – Seventeen Magazine’s Teen Choice Awards, ESPN’s X Games, and the Little League World Series – celebrate youth culture, but also milk it shamelessly for cash. And why feel any shame? Except for those red-faced American Family Association members on “Larry King Live” holding up skimpy thongs and decrying the death of purity in youth, everyone – youth included – is in on the joke. Inside the fractured immediacy of today’s youth culture, it’s not about what’s appropriate. It’s about just who is exploiting who.