By Laura Tiffany

john-lydon-johnny-rottenSome celebrity spokespeople make perfect sense: 24’s President David Palmer, Dennis Haysbert, lending his trustworthy baritone to Allstate Insurance or beautiful actresses like Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson donning L’Oreal makeup and hair color for ads. But punk-rock pioneer John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, shilling butter?

Country Life Butter, an English company, made a fun play on Lydon’s iconoclastic, anarchic image–he did become famous for singing  “God save the Queen/She ain’t no human being/There is no future/In England’s dreaming” in the Malcolm McLaren-created punk group the Sex Pistols–in a 5 million-pound ad campaign. Wearing a tweed suit and bowler hat, Lydon jauntily sneers at stereotypical English scenes, asking rhetorically why he buys Country Life butter. Is it because it’s from England or made from the milk of English cows? No, of course it’s not because of England, he declares; it’s because it tastes the best.

While Lydon was a daring choice for the ad–who would associate a Sex Pistol with butter?–the sly commercial, which posits that the English origins of the butter isn’t even close to being the most important aspect of the product, wouldn’t have worked with anyone but the man who has made a career of outspoken, contrary opinions.

While the ad aired in 2008, it’s making the rounds on the Internet once again because Lydon has used the funds to bring his post-Sex Pistols, post-punk band, Public Image Ltd. (PiL), back on the road. After touring England, PiL was stateside last week, headlining the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California last Friday.

Have you ever used a spokesperson for your business? Would you ever take a risk like using a controversial figure?

John Lydon discusses how butter funded the PiL tour:

Watch the Country Life butter commercial here:

Guest blogger Laura Tiffany is a long-time fan of PiL and a freelance writer and editor who focuses on quirky small businesses.