For most of us, this past week has been one of family, friends, and turkey, but for GoldieBlox, it has been one of Beastie Boys, creative advertisements, and law suits. The toy company, founded by Debbie Sterling, has been a strong advocate of building female interest in the STEM field for a while now, and on November 19, they released a YouTube video that brought in millions of views; the original video was pulled down, but I found a link (embedded below) if you haven’t seen it yet.
But interested Internet goers weren’t the only people to come across the Oakland-based startup video. The Beastie Boys took immediate notice to the video because the song playing in the background is a remake of their hit “Girls,” albeit with totally different, non-misogynistic lyrics.
“Girls, you think you know what we want, girls. Pink and pretty is girls. Just like the 50s it’s girls…It’s time to change. We deserve to see a range. Cuz all our toys just look the same. And we would like to use our brains.”
The reimagined song is playing while a massive two-minute Rube Goldberg machine works its way across a living room, a kitchen, and a front lawn. But the Beastie Boys, while admitting the power behind the video and purpose of GoldieBlox, wondered why nobody had told them their song was in the ad.
“Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial, ‘GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,’ we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad,” says the band’s Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz in a statement released on Huffington Post. “As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.”
The really interesting part is that GoldieBlox preemptively sued the Beastie Boys following the release of their video because they believed that the hip hop band had accused them of copyright infringement. However it was later released, by the Beastie Boys, that they never made such a claim.
“We tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US,” says Diamong and Horovitz.
True there are some legal ramifications that might come further down the road because Adam Yauch, a late member of the Beastie Boys, specified in his will that the music never be used in ads after his death. Regardless, GoldieBlox backed down from the fight to not further distract from their main mission: building a strong interest in STEM fields for young women and ultimately bolstering the presence of women in the tech scene at large.