When advertising agencies want a particular sound as the backdrop for their commercials, they go to companies that keep archives of original songs for public licensing. At these archives, there are usually many tracks that are created for the purpose of sounding similar to other artists. I know because I work part-time at such a company. My job there however is to weed out bad tracks, or songs that go beyond merely mimicking a band’s aesthetic, but actually plagiarize particular songs.
Apparently the company that Volkswagen outsourced for their new Polo commercial, called Sniffy Dog according to Diffuser.fm, didn’t do a very good job at pairing down their library because the song selected for the advert, “Whispers and Stories,” is ridiculously similar to the Beach House tune “Take Care.”
Beach House are a band that has a very particular sound, so it’s natural such companies would wanna gank their aesthetic choice for the purpose of adding a delicate, dreamy aspect to jingles which could potentially be picked up by advertisers looking to have their product wash over the viewer’s brain with warmth and hearth — but when you go so far as to lift an arpeggio pattern and re-write a chorus from a specific song (“I’ll take care of you” vs. “I’ll watch over you”), I’m sorry to say, but that’s plagiarism.
Sometimes this type of thing happens by accident, but it’s pretty apparent here that this is not the case.
UPDATE: Facebook post from Beach House on the matter:
Hate to have to address this VW ad story during our release week, but an important part of information wasn’t included in the news story. The ad agency actively tried to license “take care” from us for weeks, to which we politely declined. People’s comments/ anger should not be directed towards VW or us. It was the ad agency that made these moves. I hope this also clarifies to fans and non- fans just how “take care” and the vw ad song are related. We will release a proper statement weeks from now when we don’t have more interesting things to do/ talk about.
Check out the ad and the original Beach House track below.
Volkswagen Polo advertisement
Beach House — “Take Care”