Kids Sing GN’Rs ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ in New Johnson + Johnson Commercial
“Love. It’s the most powerful thing on the planet,” says the soothing voice at the start of Johnson & Johnson’s new commercial. “Love is family. Love is the reason you care for the tiny and the fragile,” continues the narrator over sweet black-and-white shots of babies and their parents, and — wait, is that Guns N’ Roses‘ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine‘ in the background?
Yes and no. That’s certainly the song that served as the breakout single from GNR’s ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album, but it isn’t Axl Rose singing over Slash‘s lead guitar; instead, the commercial uses a version of the song you’ve probably never heard — a kitten-cute recording by the Capital Children’s Choir.
The Choir, a London-based organization led by singer, composer, and conductor Rachel Santesso, recorded ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ back in 2008 (you can buy their version here), but now it’s finding new life as a jingle for the pharmaceutical conglomerate, which has suffered a series of public relations setbacks over the last few years.
As Michael Sneed, a VP of Global Corporate Affairs for the company, admitted in a recent interview, “I would say that it is a campaign that emphasizes our strategy for reconnecting with consumers when our business is really taking measurable strides to overcome the past challenges. We want to make sure people think of J&J as a long-term provider of health care, as a company that’s going to be there day in and day out. While we’re still considered among the best, there’s nothing wrong with being the best. And we want to make sure we get back to that.”
It’ll all add up to some nice extra cash for Axl and his (former) bandmates, but it’s also a pretty compelling example of just how drastically things can change over the course of a quarter century: In 1988, Guns N’ Roses were seen as dirty and a little dangerous; now, one of their biggest hits is being used to create a feeling of warmth and safety. It’s an undeniably effective version of the song, and one that reveals the tenderness hidden behind all that screeching and metal guitar. Mostly, though? It just makes us feel old.