Music and advertising go hand in hand. Over the years so many adverts have become more synonymous with the music that accompanies them, than the overall message of the ad. Take the John Lewis Christmas ads for example. In recent years the accompanying tunes have even spawned streaming and download success off the back of featuring in these ads. What is it about the synergy between a piece of music and an advert that causes consumers to fall in love with the brand and or product on sale.
What music does so effectively is elicit emotion. We use the same part of our brains to processes music that we do to process and retain memory. That’s why music so often congers up strong feelings of the past and we connect it with past experiences. Different melodies, chord changes, and beats can alter our emotional states almost instantly, so strong are our minds abilities to be altered by a piece of music. A key change from major to minor can instantly evoke sadness, whilst an acoustic guitar being strummed reminds us of comfort and familiarity. This being said, one thing is for certain when using music in ads, brands must have a clear idea of what a particular song is associated with and what it conjures up before they feature it.
What music does best is carries a story. On its own, it may be powerful but set to images it creates a whole new world. When music in an advert is most memorable it is corresponding directly with what is happening on screen. The tempo and the lyrics are complimenting the overall story. Sometimes ads feature visually spectacular scenes, such as The 2012 Thomas Cook advert, which shows pulsating images of high octane events around the world, like Spanish bullfighting and the Holi colour festival. In this ad, in particular, the tempo and lyrics of the accompanying music work brilliantly. They have opted to go for a reworked version of the classic song Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. The charging tempo and the bright positive lyrics, mix well with fast-paced images of the exciting and invigorating world around us.
For many brands, a big budget allows them to buy the rights to the works of some iconic artists and songwriters, like Microsoft who in 1995 got the rights to The Rolling Stones song “Start me up” to help launch Windows ’95. This worked for Microsoft but the artists themselves can often face some flack from fans who consider them sell outs for working with big corporates. It is unlikely that smaller bands will have access to the music of world-renowned stars, but getting the rights to smaller acts songs can be easy to acquire. The acts themselves will gain more exposure and your brand can tap into a new market, by appealing to the artist’s followers.
Instead of enlisting the help of an established artist and paying for the right to feature their music in your ad, you could always resort to the old-fashioned method of creating a jingle. Provided your jingle matches the storyline of your ad and elicits an emotional response, a jingle can work well. The most successful jingles are those which feature the products strapline, repeated over again to catchy music. The straplines which are used on billboards and in digital, increase their reach and impact when they also feature in an ad. A great example of this is the Neptunes produced McDonald’s ad “I’m loving it.” The strapline is not only sung repeatedly it is also used as a slogan on all other forms of advertising.
Music is a powerful tool in advertising. Use it to amplify the existing message of your ad by finding a piece of music that matches the tone and narrative of the ad. You just might find you have produced something memorable and lasting, that may even go viral.