Nike used this for commercials in 1987
. Capitol Records, who owned the performance rights, meaning The Beatles version of the song, was paid $250,000. Michael Jackson, who owned the publishing rights, meaning use of the words and music, also had to agree and was paid for the song (Jackson acquired the rights to 251 Beatles songs in 1985 when he outbid Paul McCartney for them, fracturing their friendship in the process).
The commercials caused a huge backlash from Beatles fans who felt that Nike was disrespecting the legacy of John Lennon, who likely would have objected to its use, but the ad campaign, called "Revolution in Motion," was successful, helping Nike expand their market by featuring ordinary joggers, gym rats and cyclists. "We're trying to promote the concept of revolutionary changes in the fitness movement and show how Nike parallels those changes with product development," the company stated. "Because of this 'revolution,' we were able to draw a strong correlation with the music and the lyrics in the Beatles song."
It wasn't just fans who had beef with the ads: the surviving Beatles, along with Yoko Ono (representing Lennon's estate), sued Nike, bringing even more publicity to the campaign. The ads ran for about a year, and eventually a settlement was reached in the lawsuit. As years went by, it became more acceptable to use songs in commercials, but Beatles songs remained off-limits, as any use would result in a lawsuit and hostile reaction by fans. What was "revolutionary" about the Nike commercials were that they were the first to do it.
In 2002, "When I'm 64
" was used in a commercial for Allstate insurance. Many Beatles fans were not pleased, but it didn't get nearly the reaction of the Nike commercials, partly because it was not a political song, but also because it was sung by Julian Lennon
, which implied endorsement by his father.