Advertising Space

Album: Intensive Care (2005)
Charted: 8
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Songfacts®:

  • This beautiful ballad is about the late, great Elvis Presley. It documents Presley's tragic fall from grace and his sudden death from a cardiac arrest at the age of 42 on August 16, 1977. Robbie Williams expresses sadness at how Presley has become little more than a commercial figure to be marketed and profited off in the aftermath of his death. Speaking on Parkinson in 2005, Williams added: "He's become a wall clock or he's become a bumper sticker. I've never met the man, obviously, but I love him and I love his work, and it's just me tipping my hat to him."
  • "Advertising Space" makes reference to Presley's infamous encounter with President Richard Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. Presley asked to meet with Nixon as he believed he could help the president combat drug culture by reaching out to the hippie community. A collector of police and law enforcement memorabilia, Presley also asked Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge during their time together. Even though such a badge didn't exist, Nixon agreed to the request. Presley is said to have carried the badge with him for the rest of his life.
  • In November 2016, during a Q&A session with his fans on Twitter, Williams explained that he prays to Presley before going on stage at every concert. Williams also has the words "Elvis Grant Me Serenity" tattooed on his right biceps.
  • This song also pays tribute to Hollywood actor Marlon Brando. Once one of America's greatest stars, Brando died on July 1, 2004 after growing obese and becoming a recluse. Williams laments how Brando met a similar sad fate to Presley, adding: "No one learned from your mistakes. We let our prophets go to waste."
  • According to Williams, "Advertising Space" was partly inspired by the Quentin Tarantino-directed, Christian Slater-starring movie True Romance, in which the main character Clarence Worley is able to communicate with the spirit of Presley.
  • "Advertising Space" was written by Williams and Stephen Duffy. They formed a creative partnership after Williams fell out with his former collaborator, Guy Chambers, during the making of Escapology. Williams called "Advertising Space" his "Candle in the Wind," a reference to the Elton John song originally written about Marilyn Monroe and later rerecorded following the death of Princess Diana.
  • Directed by David LaChapelle, the music video for "Advertising Space" sees Williams playing a Presley tribute act. The video was shot in Blackpool – the seaside resort frequently referred to as "the Las Vegas of England" – culminating with Williams performing at a chintzy bingo hall. Williams' appearance in Blackpool stopped traffic at the time, with 5,000 fans gathering to watch the former Take That member strolling down the town's glittering "Golden Mile."
  • "Advertising Space" is featured on Williams' sixth album Intensive Care. It was the third single released from the album after "Tripping" and "Make Me Pure."

Comments: 15

  • Veronica Windever Robbie Williams song that was a favourite for me and my Veronica after I was recovering from a heart attack .
  • Khirsh from The NetherlandsI hope I can help with what I've gathered on the net :)

    There's no earthly way of knowing
    What was in your heart when it stopped going
    The whole world shook a storm was blowing through you
    **that there's no factual way to know what was going through Elvis' mind /heart when he died

    Waiting for god to stop this
    And up to your neck in darkness
    Everyone around you was corrupted
    Saying something
    ** he was alledgedly depressed in his later years, people surrounding him were after their own gain

    There's no dignity in death
    To sell the world your last breath
    We're still fighting over
    Everything you left over
    ** he died on the toilet and there were / are fights about his properties

    I saw you standing at the gates
    When Marlon Brando passed away
    You had that look upon your face
    Advertising space
    ** Best one I've read: Robbie 'sees' Elvis standing at the gates of heaven (true romance reference). Elvis has a blank look (advertising space is empty, to be filled up), when he met Brando -someone Elvis admired- at the gates of heaven, having learned nothing from him.


    No one learned from your mistakes
    We let our profits go to waste
    All that's left in any case
    Is advertising space
    ** simply that no-one learned, we're still doing the same. All that's left is a blank space, ready to be filled up wïth commercialism

    Through your eyes the world was burning
    Please be gentle I'm still learning
    You seemed to say as you kept turning up
    ** Elvis was 'learning' the ropes, but people were already juggling him around with their 'wisdom'

    They poisoned you with compromise
    At what point did you realize
    Everybody loves your life but you
    ** others made him give up so much as 'comprimise', causing depressions later on

    A special agent for the man
    Through Watergate and Vietnam
    No one really gave a damn
    Did you think the CIA did
    ** he was a special agent for narcotics, after writing Nixon a letter, as he believed he could make a difference. He was awarded that title, through the years of watergate and some of Vietnam, but no-one really cared.

    I saw you standing at the gates
    When Marlon Brando passed away
    You had that look upon your face
    Advertising space

    No one learned from your mistake
    We let our profits go to waste
    All that's left in any case
    Is advertising space

    I saw you standing at the gates
    When Marlon Brando passed away
    You had that look upon your face
    Advertising space

    No one learned from your mistakes
    We let our profits go to waste
    All that's left in any case
    Is advertising space

    I've seen your daughter
    Man she's cute
    I was scared but I wanted to
    Boy she looks a lot like you
    ** Lisa Marie, Elvis' daughter, looks a lot like him. Robbie was nervous meeting her.
  • Felipe from Campinas, BrazilWhen he says "everybody loved your life but you" i think this phrase adresses well to all people wich have fame . As people argued, the song is about Elvis, but is also about himself, and fits well to everyone who has fame, even Jesus, as Robson said.
  • Robson from Porto Alegre, BrazilStrange... I'm not that kind of religious, no way, but in some sentences, i guess he's talking about Jesus, "There's no earthly way of knowing what was in your heart, when it stopped going, the whole world shook, a storm was blowing through you" (Jesus dying in the cross)

    "Waiting for god to stop this" When, Jesus ask "Father Saves me" or someting like...

    "There's no dignity in death, to sell the world your last breath, they're still fighting over everything you left over" Even today peoples kill, fight and bla bla bla about religious subjects.

    "And, no one learned from your mistakes, we let our profits go to waste, all that's left in any case is Advertising space" A lot of "NO ONE" care about what he teached, and in some cases his name is used to Advertising Space, Like "COOOMEEE TOO MY CHURCH BECAUSE JESUS LIVES HERE"

    Robson, Porto Alegre, Brasil

  • Koen from Nijm, NetherlandsI always thought that the song was about reality tv. Just as his new album is titled 'reality killed the videostar'. Marlon Brando was (wikipedia) well-known for being a method-actor. This style of acting meant that the actor tries to really become the character he is playing. He is kind of creating the thoughts and emotions the character would have. So the passing away of Marlon Brando is not to be taken literally, but is more kind of the end of acting and the beginning of reality television. Television is not concerned about the story, but just about the possibilities of actually selling advertising space. Some phrases of the song that make me think this:
    'And up to your neck in darkness' - on television mostly heads are shown. The corpse is not shown, it is in darkness.
    'The whole world shook' - the whole world.. sounds like tele
    'To sell the world your last breath' - reminds me of the woman who sold the tele-rights of her dead (she was terminally ill) in the U.K.
    'Through your eyes
    The world was burning' - The news always shows dieing people and burning countries
    'No one really gave a damn' - so we all watch all these shows and newsitems, but do we care about the people involved?
    'I've seen your daughter
    Man shes cute' - This daughter would just be the next step in the whole system. The next generation of television shows.
    That's how I always like to interpret the song.
  • Rebecca from Sydney, AustraliaGustavo and Matea, it's actually much simpler than that. "I saw you standing at THE GATES." This is a direct reference to the gates of heaven. Robbie himself has said it is his "True Romance" song, meaning that even though Elvis is dead, Robbie can still "see" him. Thus, Robbie "saw" Elvis standing at the Gates of Heaven when Marlon Brando passed away with that look upon his face - Advertising Space.
  • Gustavo from Rio De Janeiro, BrazilMatea, Skopje, Macedonia, I think that when he says "I saw you standing at the gates When Marlon Brando passed away" it is a reference that some people does not believe that Elvis is really dead and he was there anonymous to Brando's funeral OR that Elvis was there in spirit waiting at heaven's gates his favorite actor and idol (Elvis already told Brando how he had influenced him, when they met first time). For me this part of song is beautiful, actual, since Brando recently died, and mix with the past, since how Elvis liked him, put togheter in feel words two references for the music and cinema in a sensible way, just perfect, shows how Robbie Williams is a great artist.
  • Matea from Skopje, MacedoniaI know the song is about Elvis and everything, and how he's reffering to Elvis...But i dont get it when he says "I saw you standing at the gates When Marlon Brando passed away"
    Coz Marlon Died July 1, 2004, and Elvis died in 1977...WHAT does THSI MEAN?
  • Sonny from London, England"Advertising space".... highlights the fact that every famous person (elvis being the epitomy of fame & celebrity)is synically reduced to a mere instrument or tool used by commercial operators and enterprises to reach thier audience / customers in an effort to sell a product or persuade the target market to think in a particular way.

    Refrence to vietnam and secret agent......An example of how Elvis (his far reaching advertising space!!) was used to "glorify / add credibility/ or simply make the vietnamese war appear credible at a time when the war was losing support in the public eyes.
  • Niall from Co.kildareT Michels, The "Advertising Space" reference is towards how low people have stooped with Elvis' name these days and how there's no magic or ystery left with Elvis, he is even used as an advertising platform á la Sony, Adidas etc...
  • T. Michels from Venlo, NetherlandsI just loveee this song! Surely because of the subject and what Robbie 'says' to him. I get cold shivers every time I hear it.
    But can someone explain the meaning of 'Advertising Space', plz?
  • Niall from Ireland, IrelandAbsolutely. I have quite a lot of respect for Williams for doing this track. A brave move in my opinion
  • Micka from šèavnica, OtherNiall, I TOTALLY agree with you. Today it isn't important, what you sing, the main part is your appearance.
  • Niall from Ireland, IrelandIs the Lisa Marie reference at the end a reference to him meeting her "I was scared but I wanted to". Love this song. It's not lighting up the charts because of course, pop tarts today don't understand songs with meanings
  • Katie from Melbourne, AustraliaAt the end of the song where he says "I've seen your daughter man she's cute, I was scared but I wanted to" he is referring to Elvis Presley's daughter
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