U2 pitches for Apple

New iTunes ads airing during baseball games Tuesday will feature the advertising-shy Irish rockers.

It was a beautiful day for Apple Computer on Tuesday, as the company kicked off a new advertising campaign featuring rock superstars U2.

The company began airing a television ad featuring the Irish rock quartet during Major League Baseball playoff games and other programs. U2's new single, "Vertigo," is available for download exclusively through Apple's iTunes service.

U2 singer Bono is featured in
Apple's latest ads.

The commercial shows U2 playing the song while shown in the silhouette-and-primary-color scheme typical of other Apple ads for iTunes and the iPod music player. Shimmying dancers also sport iPods in the clip.

The ad is something of a switch for the Irish quartet, one of a handful of prominent rock acts who refuse on principle to allow their music to be used in commercials.

Band members are long-standing Apple fans, however. The group used PowerBooks to run much of the staging of its breakthrough "Zoo TV" tour and later became enthusiastic supporters of iTunes as the best solution to promote legal downloads of music. The Irish band earlier this year vowed to rush-release its upcoming album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," through iTunes if copies of a stolen advance disc began appearing on peer-to-peer networks.

"U2 is one of the greatest bands in the world, and we are thrilled to be working with them," Apple said in a statement. "You will hear more about Apple and U2 working together in the coming weeks."

iTunes has been the leading service for legal music downloads since Apple launched it last year. But the service has faced increasing competition from new entrants such as Microsoft, which introduced its MSN Music service on Tuesday.