Music has been used in advertising since radio first became a popular medium. From bespoke jingles to well-known tunes, music has been identified by academic David Huron as serving five distinct but interlocking purposes:
- Entertainment – music makes advertisements (and therefore the product being sold) instantly more attractive;
- Structure and continuity – music frames the narrative, creating dramatic contrasts when needed and engaging the audience;
- Memorability – music generally lingers in the mind longer than words, which is why adverts often ‘sing’ phone numbers;
- Lyrical language – music ‘can provide a message without the customer consciously noticing it’, thereby increasing and enhancing engagement;
- Targeting and authority establishment – music can be the best way to get your target audience to immediately identify with your brand or product. Play a song you know they like (or commission a piece of music in the right genre) and they already, subliminally feel a connection.
In the last decade or so there has been a noticeable shift in the music component of adverts. Although the jingle still exists – Pizza Hut is a prime example – brands are increasingly using established popular songs with which to align their product. It’s called ‘synchronisation’.
In 2003, an article in The Economist identified the change, noting that ‘not long ago, rock stars would turn up their politically correct noses at the notion of using their precious songs to sell anything as crass as cars or cornflakes’. Now, though, it is seen as an important source of revenue for musicians in the age of iTunes and, more significantly, file-sharing – legal or otherwise.
Of course, getting the right song to promote your brand can be easier said than done. In this great piece from Ad Week, various music industry experts and insiders choose their five best and, far more entertainingly, five worst examples of synchronisation.
Such lists are obviously purely subjective, but for what it’s worth, here are The Message’s top three choices for the best uses of music as content marketing. Feel free to disagree – and to offer your own suggestions using the Comment facility below…
1234 by Feist for the Apple iPod Nano
Guaglione by Perez Pardo for Guinness
I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye for Levi 501s
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