Wow, it's been over 25 years since Apple Records sued Nike for using The Beatles song "Revolution" in its advertising. At that time I was about 3 years into my 14 1/2 year long career at Nike. Nike had published print ads condemning Apple Corps for the suit, as Nike had bought the rights to use the song from its owner (Michael Jackson!) and publisher (EMI).
In August 1987 Phil Knight was actually in the USSR working on negotiating a huge tennis endorsement. I love word play (thanks dad!!). The light bulb went on. Hhmmm, Phil in the USSR, Nike ad response, Apple Records, Beatles, etc. So here's what came out of that, below. I hope no one can sue me over this. It's been 25 years.
Now that Phil is Back In The USSR, here is an open letter to Apple Records:
John would Twist And Shout in his grave if he knew what you were doing. We at NIKE don't want a Revolution, we just want to make a Rubber Soul.
Your lawsuit has created alot of Helter Skelter here at NIKE, where the average employee works Eight Days A Week, moonlights as a Paperback Writer and works summers in the Strawberry Fields. NIKE's Legal Department has now been diverted away from the protection of our new Norwegian Wood mid-sole.
The fact is, we negotiated and paid for all legal rights to use "Revolution" in our ads. And we did so with the active support and encouragement of Rocky Raccoon, Eleanor Rigby, Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam. In fact, we even have the signed release of every member of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. We also believe we've shown a good deal of sensitivity and respect in our use of "Revolution." It is not now, and never was, NIKE's intention to somehow connect NIKE and the Beatles in the mind of the consumer.
But the last thing we want to do is upset the Beatles over the use of their music. That's why we've asked them to discuss the issue with us face-to-face. No lawyers, critics or self-appointed spokespersons. Let's Come Together over a friendly plate of Savoy Truffle. Let It Be now, Here There And Everywhere, Any Time At All, Across The Universe, in a Yellow Submarine, even at Abbey Road. In fact, Why Don't We Do It In The Road!
End your frivolous suit against NIKE. Don't let another Hard Day's Night go by. Let us Help! Get Back from the Long And Winding Road of litigation.
Love Me Do,