The Story Behind "Colors": Kira Willey and That Dell Ad

Over the past month or so, I noticed a few hits on Kira Willey and related terms, but it wasn't enough for me to research further.

Well, now I wish I had earlier, because I just realized that Willey's song "Colors" (off her fine CD Dance For the Sun: Yoga Songs For Kids) has been used in a major ad campaign for Dell Computers.

Seeing as this is the most surprising usage of kids music since Barry Louis Polisar and the Juno soundtrack, I thought I'd drop Willey a line to get her thoughts on the matter. Those thoughts, along with the ad in question and other YouTube-ry, are after the jump...
Says Willey:

"The exposure from the Dell ad has been really exciting. It was completely out of the blue, and happened really fast: the agency that created the spot (Mother New York) found my song via an internet search, got in touch with me, and a week later the ad was on the air.

It has certainly created some buzz. I am absolutely amazed at how many people have written to say they heard the song on the ad and went searching for it on the internet. I've been inundated with wonderful emails, people asking for sheet music for the song, and requests for using the song for commercial purposes--for example five separate children's photographers have asked permission to use it on their websites. And it has spurred CD sales in a big way. All good. The best though by far are the emails from teachers, therapists and parents who have been so happy to discover the CD as a result of hearing the song on the ad...

Dell is also doing a big "Summer Rocks" music-related promotion, and used the full song in a video for a "towel drop" kickoff they did a few weeks ago in a bunch of major cities: basically creating a huge art project with brightly colored, bamboo towels in parks and beaches one Saturday. They have "Dell domes" at a bunch of the big summer music festivals - Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, etc.- and are letting people come in and create their own digital mixtape to e-mail home. They're doing it on their site as well, so for the next 60 days or so people can download "colors" among lots of other songs for free.

And here's a link to an interview the Dell folks did with me and the creative director of the spot.

Just as I thought the Dell requests were winding down a bit, I was asked to fly to Austin to play a couple of sets at a big quarterly meeting of 1,000 Dell executives. Apparently they're very happy with the response to the ad, and the whole campaign of which "my" ad is a part has been quite successful. Anyway, I politely declined as I'm currently immersed in the children's genre and figured "surfer mama" and "caterpillar caterpillar" wasn't what they were looking for. [Ed: I totally think "Surfer Mama" would go over great.] A day later, while stirring mac and cheese for the kids' dinner, I got a phone call asking if they could fly me down just to play "colors." So off I go to Austin on the 29th to do just that..."

So, anyway, here's the original ad, which, besides having a nice song, neatly marries the lyrics to the point they're trying to drive home.

Kira Willey - "Colors" (Dell ad)

Here's the link to a full video for "Colors" shot by Willey and friends (embedding's been disabled) and below is a full video for "Dance For the Sun," which is a wee bit more yoga-focused than the abstract "Colors." To be honest, I like the ad the best as video, but at 30 seconds, you don't really get much of the song, now do you?...

Kira Willey - "Dance for the Sun"