Did Samsung Pay George Michael For Using Last Christmas In Their Ad?

Samsung has a new Christmas ad for their Galaxy Gear smart watch?  It’s one of the most horrific ads in the history of advertising – it’s hard to believe anyone would even consider buying on of these smart watches after watching the ad.  Why I’m mentioning it here though, is the background music playing in the ad.  It’s very, very clearly an instrumental version of Wham!’s Last Christmas. However, I noticed there are a few changes in the music… which made me wonder – did Samsung pay George Michael for using Last Christmas? Or did they deliberately make some changes so that they wouldn’t have to pay, hoping that the changes they made would be enough to prevent George taking legal action against them?

Watch the ad for yourself, and listen to the background music playing for the first 45 seconds. What do you think? Is there any doubt that the music is Last Christmas (and of course, they based the opening shot on Wham!’s video for the song too)? Do you think Samsung paid for permission to use the song?

5 thoughts on “Did Samsung Pay George Michael For Using Last Christmas In Their Ad?

  1. While it is common to pay for the use of someone else’s music, it is not common to ask the creator for his consent. Even Ms ‘Big Mama’ Merkel gave a damn during the election campaign while the Rolling Stones expressed that they wanted Merkel to not use their “Angie” song. They played it nontheless.

    Which comes to George Michael and Samsung: they should pay twice for the abuse (not use) of the song. Which reveals just another injustice, because Sony earns (but doesn’t deserve) the largest part of the royalties.

  2. Oh, and while I’m ranting… it’s one of those stupid videos that encourage drivers to text ILU messages to their girl friends while driving. One guy drove a biker dead while he sent SMS to his g/f… while she was sitting right beside him.

    What Samsung doesn’t tell where the guy with the 007 watch always stores his big screen smartphone… because that is needed for doing all the calls and internet things. You only see both devices at the end.

  3. Unless Samsung is pretending that their recording isn’t a re-recording of Last Christmas, they would need to have asked for a mechanical license from George’s publisher to re-record the song for use in the ad. The fee would have been substantial, given that Last Christmas is one of the most popular songs in the history of pop music. You can’t just make a recording of copyrighted music and use it in a commercial without first obtaining the appropriate license and paying the appropriate fee.

    It’s my understanding (could be wrong) that George is the person that decides on whether such licenses are granted for his music. A few years ago, I think he asked his publisher to start looking for opportunities to place some of his songs in TV, film and radio… so no reason why he wouldn’t have given permission. The reason why I wondered about this case is that the music in the recording sounds like the kind of thing people do when they’re trying to seeking to avoid paying big bucks for the use of a really popular piece of music.

  4. I know – it’s a shocker, isn’t it? It might be one of the worst ads I’ve ever seen. Lots of people are asking which agency came up with this concept!

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