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HHGregg gets 'Help' from Beatles to sell big screens

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HHGregg Inc. is turning to John, Paul, George and Ringo to help it sell TVs, dishwashers and dryers.

The Indianapolis-based retailer launched its first national advertising campaign last month using the tagline “We Help” and the Beatles song “Help!” as its soundtrack. The Fab Four’s tune is designed to drive home HHGregg’s marketing claim that its career salespeople are more knowledgeable and helpful than the lower-paid staffs at such competitors as Best Buy.

HHGregg isn’t saying what it’s spending on the specific campaign, but it spent $87 million in its most recent fiscal year to hawk its electronics and appliances.

HHGregg spokeswoman Sari Martin also declined to disclose how much the company spent to license rights to “Help!” from Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Andy Reismeyer, director of music licensing for Indianapolis-based CMG Worldwide, estimated HHGregg would have paid $500,000 to $1 million for the rights to use “Help!” as the centerpiece of its campaign.

And it could have paid several times more if it had elected to use the actual Beatles recording of the 1965 tune. Instead, HHGregg’s advertising agency, Florida-based Zimmer Advertising, a division of Omnicom, hired a music production company to make the recording used in the commercials.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Reismeyer, who works out of CMG’s office in Los Angeles, brokering licensing deals for the songs of CMG’s clients. “I mean, who’s bigger than the Beatles?”

He said an iconic song like “Help!” can grab consumers’ attention—which is especially important for a retailer selling fairly emotionless products like appliances.

“That’s just so valuable, especially when you’re selling dishwashers or dryers,” Reismeyer said. “It’s not like you’re selling a car and you can rely on the sex appeal of the car. Or a fragrance.”

Help! was the first Beatles song licensed for use in an advertisement. In 1985, Ford Motor Co. paid a reported $100,000 for the rights to make a new recording of it for a Lincoln-Mercury campaign.

Two years later, Nike Corp. paid $500,000 to use the original Beatles recording of “Revolution” in an ad campaign. The Nike ads led then-remaining group members Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to file a lawsuit, which ended in a settlement.

The original Beatles members still receive royalties on all songs they wrote. But the publishing rights to the songs, which typically claim about 50 percent of all royalties, were placed into a corporate entity, and the Beatles members eventually lost control of those rights.

The publishing rights to the Beatles’ songs were purchased by the late Michael Jackson in 1985 as part of a 4,000-song catalog. He later sold a 50-percent interest in the catalog to Japan-based Sony.

At the time of Jackson’s death in 2009, his half of the Sony/ATV catalog that includes the Beatles tunes was valued at $1 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

“I don’t think Sony/ATV has any trouble licensing these songs, although they don’t do it very often,” Reismeyer said.

HHGregg’s current ads will run until the end of the year, according to Martin, on television, in print, online, on social media, and through direct mail and e-mail. They are running in all 15 states where HHGregg’s 173 stores are located. Also, the ads will appear in Pittsburgh, Miami and Chicago, new markets HHGregg will enter later this year.

The company’s sales last year rose 35 percent, to more than $2 billion, thanks to rapid expansion. Profit rose 22 percent, to $48.2 million.
 

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  • You killed a classic
    Hate it
  • Never
    That is when I will shop at hhgregg as long as they use "Help," especially that truly insipid TV version. Gahhhhh!!!!
  • boooo
    I agree, it's totally offensive. I'll never shop there again, and I will spread my dissent!
  • I turn off the TV
    I turn off the TV whenever an hh gregg commercial plays. The poor rendition of "Help!" makes me grind my teeth. Whoever is singing it should have their vocal cords forcibly removed.
  • use of the Help! song
    Well, I'm sure they got permission to use the song. I understand you're disappointed because it's not a super-60's Beatles version. It's still pleasing to hear though. It sure beats using a rap song, where they just scream like an animal with no tune to it. It must have cost a fortune to use the song. I was watching a DVD with commentary on the movie Strangeland, and they wanted to use the obscure Beatles song Piggies, and it would have cost over $100,000 to use it. I shudder to think how much a well-known Beatles song like Help! cost.
    • HH Gregg
      I was absolutely appalled when I heard the song "Help" on an HH Gregg commercial. Truly, how dare them think that they are worthy enough to play cherished Beatles music to hawk appliances.

      And if that were not awful enough, they had a lounge-type band perform the song.

      Shame on HH Gregg. I will never shop there again--there are just some things that shouldn't be diluted.
    • Shame on HHGregg
      Shame on HHGregg – the licensing of the Beatles “Help!” and the subsequent cutesy, insipid jingle is offensive on multiple levels – and shame on Zimmerman/Omnicom for their stunning lack of creative vision.

      Never shopped there and never will
    • Emails Blocked!
      Yeah, it's true. A single middle-management type blocked my queries to their employees. Today, she suggested I contact the ad firm, Zimmerman in Ft Lauderdale, FLA.
      Since they don't have a "Contact Us" prompt, depending on what happens, I'll contact Jordan Zimmerman of Zimmer Advertising and we'll go from there.
      Funny, how most decisions made by middle-management are damaging to their own companies.
    • I fired off emails to them
      On their web page, they have a Commercial/Ad prompt. I hit it to find about 15 email addresses, so I wrote an email to each, telling them I would no longer shop there until they stopped using the song. It shows an Incredible Lack of Taste and Common Sense. This morning, I received a reply from one, with the message: "Is this a serious email?" I answered: "You betcher ass."
    • approval
      Who said it was approved by them? Stay tuned for the lawsuit.
    • approval
      That's interesting and perhaps even a little surprising. In our experience, Yoko, particularly, and Sir Paul have executional approval on commercial sync use of most of the back catalogue, and it's approved on both a musical execution and a "by-industry" basis for a national ad buy. Interesting to hear what the appliance store did to get them to approve.
      • Anything for a Buck
        Maybe a better song selection would be "Baby your a Rich Man"
      • HH Gregg
        Thank you HH Gregg and Sony for taking a song that had so much introspective depth and meaning and reducing it to a jingle for the sole purpose of selling dishwashers.
      • Booo!
        So very wrong. I blame Michael Jackson for this travesty!

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