Yoplait Duran Duran

Here’s an odd case that mixes music licensing with murder and intrigue, much like sprinkling granola into a plastic cup full of fermented dairy product.

Duran Duran issued a statement Saturday disavowing any association with a Yoplait ad that used “Hungry Like The Wolf” without permission. Here’s the full message:

Many of you have written to us, voicing your dismay about the recent license of our song Hungry Like the Wolf, to a yoghurt commercial. Please know, Duran Duran do not support this usage of their music and unfortunately, this particular license was granted without any prior notification to any of us. Had we known, under no circumstances would we have backed it.

Thankfully, the ad has now been taken off the air and moving forward we hope to avoid any further situations like this.

The song’s publishers have licensed that song many times — this Old Spice ad comes to mind — so it’s unclear why this particular commercial would be a problem. Perhaps, as Slicing Up Eyeballs reports, it’s related to Yoplait’s Facebook page being bombarded with comments protesting the use of the song due to its connection with the Diane Downs murder case of 1983. That seems to be why Yoplait ultimately pulled the ad. Representatives for the company initially defended the song’s use in a Facebook comment thread:

We chose the music because it’s a popular song that felt right for this ad. The Yoplait team has discussed this quite a bit and found that the large majority of people have only positive connections to this song, given that the Diane Downs incident was more than 30 years ago.

A few days later, Yoplait had reconsidered:

When we chose the song, we had no idea of its connection to this terrible event. We take your feedback seriously, and yes, we have decided to remove this ad from the air while we consider other versions. Please know that it may take a couple of days until the ad is fully removed. We’re again sorry that it’s upset you and promise there was no intention to cause such disappointment.

It’s not like they used “Helter Skelter” or something — although that would make for one hell of a Yogurt commercial. Here’s the offending ad so you can experience the outrage for yourself.

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Comments (12)
  1. How do large corporations continue to make the mistake of not licensing a song (and often an extremely popular and recognizable song) over and over again. Don’t they have lawyers, or are they operating out of the back of a radio-flyer?

    • depending on the band/writers contract, publishers/labels might not need approval for commercial uses, and can issue valid licenses without any input from the band/writers. I assume that’s the case here.

      • True, but it seems a bit odd that Duran Duran would expect to have to approve things if their contract is as such. It’s not the first time they’ve had to license music.

  2. Doesn’t sound like it was copy infringement, though, per Duran Duran’s statement: “this particular license was granted without any prior notification to any of us.” Sounds like Yoplait got the rights to the song without the actual band finding out, which isn’t necessarily Yoplait’s fault.

  3. The more I think about that, the more troubling it is to me:

    So because a massively popular song happened to be playing when a murder happened – that means it should never ever be used again in public? Seriously? I mean, seriously??

    It almost sounds like Yoplait decided that if they were getting flak from the band for using the song, they’d just scorch the earth beneath it. (What do you expect from a company whose containers have been killing small animals for decades in the name of branding?)

  4. shoulda just gone with Coldplait.

    • I think Yoplait is wary of such a gambit, given the failure of their early-90s ads aimed at cornering the youth market featuring rap duo Kid ‘n ‘Plait.

  5. But of course, nobody had a problem with the song when they used it for that scene in “Old School”…

  6. Any ideas why Duran Duran would be against using it for a yogurt commercial if asked?

  7. What a shame, that was one of my favorite commercials on TV. Just because any time I can hear Hungry Like the Wolf I’m gonna be pretty happy.

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