Instant karma’s gonna get Chase

There's a particularly infuriating and, in my opinion, totally off-base commercial bombarding my San Francisco hotel TV set. It's from JP Morgan Chase and is intended to introduce local Chase banking to the Bay Area.

That's cool. But, they've chosen a cover version of John Lennon's 'Instant Karma' as their background music. Now, I'd defer to far more knowledgeable Beatles' experts such as Syd Steinhardt and Julie Farin, but Lennon's song was all about the brevity of life. 'We all shine on. The earth, the moon and the stars,' wrote Lennon. His lyrics underscored the brevity of life and not, unless I'm badly mistaken, a celebration of it.

Chase, though, depicts a bunch of happy-go-lucky people jogging, swimming and cavorting in a carefree way set against Lennon's ominous warning that, 'Instant karma's gonna get you.'

Maybe Chase is just setting consumers' expectations and the instant karma in this case is the credit crunch? Maybe they're suggesting yes, go ahead and invest your hard-earned money in our retail banks. But, don't blame us if it disappears overnight.

Instant karma should 'get' whatever creative team created this loser of an ad campaign.

11 thoughts on “Instant karma’s gonna get Chase

  1. Thanks GD. I don’t know if I agree with you, though. I’m a PR guy and a Baby Boomer who grew up with John Lennon and the Beatles. I instinctively knew the song was completely off-base for the type of message JP Morgan Chase was trying to communicate. And, I’ll bet I’m not alone.

  2. Most people are not going think about, investigate, or care about the meaning of the song. Sounds like the critics of this ad–who are advertising people–miss the whole point of advertising. Reinforce an already known element (the chorus in this case) with positive imagery. The only lines used are “We all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun.”
    Taken out of fuller context–a common mechanism–the lyrics are very positive and uplifting.
    You don’t need permission to make a cover version of a song. You just have to pay royalty fees.

  3. Instant Karma is indeed about the brevity of life, but I think he also meant that because of that we have to enjoy every moment. Besides that it is indeed obscene that money grabbing bastards like JP Morgan use this message to rip us off even more. They are not worthy of the message in the song and Instant Karma will get them. Their Karma will seal their fate for eons to come. Too many ripples and no contemplation will do that to you.

  4. Here’s what I think happened. Chase tasked its ad agency with creating a new commercial aimed at California-based Baby Boomers. Its goal was simple and straightforward: we’re opening local branches. The agency dutifully assigned its crack ’20 something’ creative team to the assignment. They, in turn, searched the archives to find a Lennon or McCartney song that had yet to be exploited. They liked Instant Karma’s energy and some of its phrases, so they paired the song with scenes of Boomers swimming, jogging and enjoying life. But, they neither understood Lennon as a songwriter nor his intended message with ‘Instant Karma.’ As a result, Chase ends up with a spot that reminds Boomers they’re nearing the end of ‘The Long and Winding Road.’ Talk about ‘Helter Skelter!’ One thing’s for sure: the creative team would serve as ideal role models for ‘The Fool on the Hill.’

  5. If we ignore jp maybe they’ll go away
    Corporation tee shirt world hasn’t go a clue

  6. Perhaps Chase is aiming towards the non-Lennon fans (who could that be?). Chase just wants the audience to hear ‘we all shine on’ without any knowledge of what the rest of the song says.

  7. Interesting point, Syd. Knowing how domineering Yoko is, I’m surprised she hasn’t stepped in and corrected Chase for its obvious butchering of John’s original intent.

  8. While Chase and its agency certainly misused the song, the real fault lies with Yoko for licensing her late husband’s music so that it becomes overexposed and commercialized.

  9. I agree whole-heartedly with this commentary …”Instant Karma” is not an appropriate song for a JP Morgan Chase commercial…
    Perhaps they should have used “You Never Give Me Your Money”…
    This is almost as egregious as the commercial that used a lip-syncing John Lennon to endorse laptops for schools…