Music In Advertising – Yell or Whisper?

Music In Advertising – To Yell or To Whisper? We get bombarded by it every day , from every conceivable angle.  It’s the song that gets stuck in your...

Music In Advertising – To Yell or To Whisper?

We get bombarded by it every day , from every conceivable angle.  It’s the song that gets stuck in your head, the word you feel you must Google when you get home, the joke that you’ll laugh at a couple more times even after you get it.  In one word, it’s advertising.

Consumers want to be convinced that they’re choosing the right way to spend their money, while producers want that money to be cashed in at their registers.  In the music business, the basic laws of competitive markets apply as well; through their contributions to advertising soundtracks, artists get to prove they’re worth it and viewers get a taste of their potential.  The catch is that in advertising this whole process lasts anywhere from thirty seconds up to one minute.

Commercials are mainly about one thing: being commercial.  The world is full of new products popping up every day, so it is not enough anymore to sell something good, you also have to sell it well. Of course, the topic spans in many directions, we can talk about specifically-tailored jingles, movie-director orchestrated epics or classical, stereotypical ads that still do their job, but, music placement-wise, there are some particular trends for which we should keep our eyes open.

In today’s fast-paced media-frenzy, an ad has to either be edgy and shocking or catchy and sublimely simple to get a hold of the public’s attention, which means music is going along with it.  Perpetually searching for the supreme statement, the music being used in advertising nowadays will definitely make an impression.

Music in Ads – Two Very Different Ways for Success

There are, most likely, two ways one can go about getting a successful music placement for an ad, considering the fact that the allocated slot of time does not forgive mediocrity- taking out the big guns or manufacturing your own arsenal.

The first case involves launching a popularity assault by getting well-known, household and brand names to be associated with your product by pitching their songs in the ad.  Pepsi seems to be the current authority in this matter, sporting advertisements which include the rocking tunes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears or Beyonce. Who can forget the famous Super Bowl gladiator ad in which Britney, Beyonce and Pink reinvented Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and gave a Pepsi a raunchy twist? The classical and empowering rock anthem was globally recognizable, as were the faces of the three divas of the new generation and as is the status of Pepsi to begin with.

Madonna’s smash hit “4 Minutes” is another great example of a popular tune that gets you interested, carefully selected to represent the Sunsilk hair care brand in a commercial designed to outline the versatility of its shampoo line, a quality we can find in Madonna herself.  This approach seems to be rather closely linked to the reputation of the artists, to their image and power to shape popular culture; the influence of a chart-topping musician is something many companies desire to have attached to their name, as it guarantees universal appeal and exposure, be it for modernity’s sake or more.

What Trendsetting Music Supervisors Are Spotting

All the must-haves of an effective advertising campaign are covered by such commercials: cross-cultural impact, contemporary values, A-list celebs and A-list sounds.  However, there is a glitch to this kind of promotion – there aren’t that many Pepsis and Sunsilks out there that can afford it.  Needless to say, music licensing does not come cheap if you’re thinking about benefiting from Madonna’s golden touch, which brings us to the second method of snatching the spotlight and the one that really opens up music supervision to wider horizons, placing absolutely impressive songs from relatively obscure artists.

One of the best songs in advertisement of the past year, if we were to believe the knowledgeable experts in the field, is Cloud Cult’s “Lucky Today”, used as a little more than just supporting rhythm in an Esurance.com commercial.  A self-imposed outsider to the music placement and licensing industry, the band agreed to let the insurance platform use its song to get publicity in exchange of some eco-friendly promises. The result is an astounding collage of video, audio and conceptual framework, fused together in an ad that looks more like it should be aired on MTV, but that is far-reaching, infectiously optimistic and just plain beautiful.  It doesn’t actually matter that the band is as underground as can be, as long as the overall feeling of the song fits splendidly with the idea behind the product.

It is obvious, then, that qualitative and innovative music placement does not only arise because you are trying to cut the costs or because your bank account cannot cover the fees of high-end celebrities, but that the main reason for the discovery of such musical gems in commercials is that they help users and, hopefully, future buyers, to identify with the item and with the company, instead of identifying with the artist and his music- this way, the soundtrack does not outshine the very idea that it is supposed to endorse and people become loyal to the product because of what it is and not because their favorite public figure is its advocate.

The role-model of the category might just be the IT giant Apple, a hallmark of skillfully made, product-oriented and customer-focused ads that genuinely speak about the item’s qualities in a simple and straightforward way; therefore, the music is also clean-cut and specific, as is the message and the feeling conveyed it conveys.  Through its colorful, animated and, especially, happy-go-lucky-sounding adverts for iPod, iTunes and the new MacBook Air, Apple has set the milestone for the careers of many previously undiscovered artists, among which we can count Yael Naim, Feist, The Ting Tings or The Fratellis, Chairlift, Metro Station to name just a few.  Just 30 seconds of showing what an Apple product can do and 30 seconds of quality music placement in the background, without any unnecessary complications, but with amazing success.

Altogether, the marketing guidelines behind all advertisements are still mainly aimed at achieving the same objectives, but nowadays the music you place in them might literally make or break your business; with the new generation increasingly bored with the old and constantly seeking out the new, with the world a melting pot of thoughts that are no longer isolated, music supervision experts are compelled to provide the perfect piece of music, that will not only sell on a short-term, but that will also keep customers waiting for more on a long-term.  Be it platinum-selling moguls or indie incognito one-hit-wonders, music in advertising is now required to leave shallowness behind and probe deeper into the needs of the consumer- the challenge for those who make a living out of it has just been upped.

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