Pepsi's forthcoming iTunes music promotional SuperBowl ad looks set to cause some controversy, as it features twenty teenagers sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The RIAA took the teenagers to the courts and accused them of stealing music. Pepsi's ad identifies the miscreants as "a few of the kids sued for downloading music free off the Internet."
One of these – 14-year old Annie Leith – then appears (to a Green Day version of "I Fought the Law") holding a Pepsi and says: "We are still going to download music for free off the Internet." The announcer then introduces the giant Pepsi iTunes Giveaway, in which Pepsi is offering 100 million free tracks from the iTunes Music Store.
RIAA chairman Mitch Bainwol told USA Today: "This ad shows how everything has changed. Legal downloading is great because fans are supporting the future of creative work in America."
The music industry has little choice but to get behind digital music distribution, if claims by Forrester Research are true.
The analyst claims music downloads will make CDs obsolete in the next five years. Analyst Josh Bernoff said: "The industry is going through a complete change in the way people consume music."
He also warned that by the end of 2004 "half the businesses that started out" in the sector will fail, comparing the digital music explosion to the dot-com boom: "I haven't seen this level of irrational exuberance since the height of the bubble," he said.