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VERVE: BITTERSWEET FEELINGS ABOUT NIKE'S USE OF THEIR SONG
Published February 19, 1998
If it were up to the Verve, Nike "never would have received permission" to use their song "Bitter Sweet Symphony" as the "cornerstone" of the company's new "I Can" campaign, according to Eric Boelhert of ROLLING STONE. However, due to a "tangled web of music-publishing rights," the decision "wasn't really [the Verve's] to make." Since "Bitter Sweet Symphony" includes a sample of the Rolling Stones song "The Last Time," ABKCO, which owns the copyrights to many early Stones songs, "took control of" rights to the song last year. Rather than allowing ABKCO to sell a "sound-alike" version to advertisers, the Verve "decided to license their actual recording" to one major advertiser, hoping to "deter others from wanting to buy the publishing rights." Nike, which paid $700,000 for the rights, beat out Budweiser, Coca-Cola, GM and others. ABKCO received $350,000 in the deal, while the Verve took home $175,000. Two weeks after the Nike ads debuted during the NFL playoffs, the Verve's album "Urban Hyms" rose 34 spots on the Billboard charts to No. 36, its "highest point since its release." The group's manager, Jazz Summers, "concedes that the ad may help generate the Verve's U.S. breakthrough." Nike's Business Affairs Manager Mark Thomashow, who handled the deal, said that the band will also "be heading to Paris this summer" after requesting tickets to the World Cup (ROLLING STONE, 3/5 issue).