A few months ago, a small company called GoldieBlox started getting some attention for their new product, which is a toy set designed for young girls, and which aims to defy the traditional gender-based marketing of toys. More recently, a commercial for the company started to go viral, partly because of the novel idea behind the product and the clever Rube Goldberg device in the commercial, and partly due to a re-appropriation of the Beastie Boys‘ early track, “Girls,” an acknowledged bit of juvenile sexism, rewritten as an anthem of female empowerment.
The Beastie Boys apparently approached the company about the use of their song, and were reportedly sued in response. The remaining members of the group, Mike D and Ad Rock, wrote an open letter in defense of their position. It reads in part:
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.
We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
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. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
It should be mentioned that the third Beastie, the late Adam Yauch, stipulated in his will that his work and image never be used in third-party commercial marketing. Disappointing that such a positive idea and product, which seemed to be catching on (and likely won’t actually be harmed by this controversy – quite the contrary, we imagine), has come to this unfortunate spot.