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Really important update:
"A representative for the Beastie Boys explained to Huffpo: "There was no complaint filed, no demand letter (no demand, for that matter) when [GoldieBlox] sued Beastie Boys."
We suspected as much when there was no letter or complaint attached to the preemptive lawsuit filed by Goldieblox that we linked in the article. This has been a lesson in earned media skillfully arranged.
Last week Goldieblox made a big splash on the internet with their Rube Goldberg style gizmo in their commercial which depicted bored girls who decided to build a "Der lauf der dinge", or a HONDA "Cog" style machine out of ordinary household things, set to the tune of Beastie Boys "Girls", but with new lyrics. The creative engineer who built the contraption in OK Go's "This too shall pass", Brett Doar, spent 2 1/2 weeks building the gadget in the Goldieblox ad.
Goldieblox isn't just a pink board with holes in it, some spools and some ribbon. There's a story too, as little girls apparently like "narrative play", and follow along on an adventure with the character helping her along the way by solving little engineering problems with these spools and ribbons to get to the next step. A bit like a book combined with the old board game mouse trap that fascinated me as a wee lass.
Upworthy sent the ad to viraldom, and Goldiblox are hoping to win a slot advertising during the super bowl with this advert. On youtube the ad, titled "GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg, & Beastie Boys "Princess Machine"', has already reached seven million views.
The woman behind Goldieblox, Debbie Sterling, has a past career in marketing as a brand strategist, and is clearly using her skills in launching her toy, so well adapted to take the obvious hole in the market for "pink engineer toys". Her now husband Beau Lewis who made "I want a goat" viral for charity has joined the company as VP of marketing. With this kind of talent, it was bound to take the Viral parts of the social internet by storm, and it did. Who can resist a weird domino-effect machine and Beastie Boys song? It doesn't matter if there's a slight disconnect when the girls sing they don't want pink, while this actually advertises a pink product, the magic of Rube Goldberg machines is that we can't help but watch them.
Academy creative reveal that the song seemingly arrived while they were in post production: "And we would add key details in Post: Beau’s inspired re-writing of an old, misogynistic Beastie Boys tune, “Girls” would add narrative drive as we assembled the piece, and our resident geniuses at Pico Sound would augment the action with chain-reactive sound design." They seem to have forgotten the vital step where they negotiate rights to use the music.
Or did they? While the advert is now making the second round due to headlines saying that Beastie Boys are filing suit, the only filed suit I can find is a the preemptive lawsuit filed by Goldieblox in California federal court to seek a declaration that the use of the Beastie Boys song with the changed lyrics was parody subject to fair use. That's right, Goldieblox are suing Beastie Boys, not the other way around.
This practically ensures that we'll read it about it all of next week as well, as the Streisand effect will work on Goldieblox favor. (C'mon now, sing "Balls! You know she has them, she's got balls!" to the tune of Beastie Boys "Girls"). And it's not like the dream husband and wife team of Goldieblox haven't done this before, remember Beau Lewis parodied Andy Samberg’s comedy group hit “I’m on a Boat.” and that went well. Question: Is it really a parody when you're simply taking someone elses song, and adding text about your product as lyrics instead? Is it still a parody when you've missed the point of the original songs lyrics? "Girls" is a parody of Machismo rap. It's like parody-inception, here.
It's well known that Adam Yauch's will says no to Beastie Boys songs in advertising, so there's disrespecting the last wishes of a dead guy on top of infringing someone elses art for the sake of shilling some yellow spools and pink ribbon. This dream product that went from brunch-idea, to kickstart-funded after a friend at Upworthy seeded it, is now one of four finalists in the running for a free spot at the super bowl. If Goldieblox' win that, they could easily become girl-toy of the year 2014. Welcome to the future, where you get money for nothing and music for free.