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4 months ago by Alex Swain
London   Hot Job (9)

​The choice of music in advertising

Now I don’t know about you but I love music. I listen to music on my commute, when I pop out of the office for a snack, when I exercise, in the shower and when I'm cooking dinner - basically any time I don’t need to talk to another person, I’m listening to music.

This has led to some pretty strong memories being linked to certain songs. One example is a song called ‘Under the same sun’ by Ben Howard, I used to listen to him a lot with a friend when I was younger who I don’t see anymore - so whenever I hear that song it reminds me of him! Another is a song called ‘Scar tissue’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers which whenever I listen to reminds me of a seemingly endless vineyard in California.

My point being is that music builds connections, it evokes emotion and it helps to bind something into your memory - I know people who can’t listen to certain songs because it reminds them of a dark place in their life.

Which means for advertising, the choice of music is absolutely essential in order to ensure the brand's message is locked into the consumers mind. I bet you can think of at least 3 adverts in your head where the song choice or jingle has made it impossible for you to disassociate that tune with the advert!

So I’m going to show you my top three adverts purely based on how the choice of music has been so ingrained in my mind that I now associate it with the brand!

Number 1

Channel 4 - Meet the Superhumans

Now personally this is my favourite advert of all time - inciting a really positive feeling to anyone who watches it. Channel 4’s use of Public Enemy’s - “Harder than you think”, made into a special version for this advert is just perfect. A really uplifting track that pairs well with the message of “Forget everything you thought you knew about humans”.

The aim of this campaign by Channel 4 was to change the public perception of the Paralympics, to see it as an “event in its own right”, rather than an afterthought to the Olympics. This campaign ran across online/offline channels and some had the slogan, “Thanks for the warm-up”. Love it.

This advert was spoken about by Adweek - “the summer’s most stunning sports commercial” and The Independent - “An act of branding genius”. It even went on win a Golden Lion at Cannes Lions Festival in June 2013, losing out overall to “PSA Dumb Ways to Die”, however Sir John Hegarty stated that “When you've got some really outstanding work it is tragic in some ways it can't get a bigger award, but there can only be one grand prix".

Number 2

The Bear and the Hare

Now I think it would be a cardinal sin not to include one of John Lewis’s long awaited Christmas adverts. I don’t think any company has got it right so many times to the point that people look forward to seeing what the next advert from John Lewis will be. I put that down to always having compelling storytelling coupled with emotive music choice.

adam&eveDDB nailed it with this one, choosing Lily Allen’s - “Somewhere Only We Know”, was a brilliant choice to overlay the animated Christmas adventure. Any advert that can tell a story without words and have so much emotion in it is a serious win for me. I can’t not think about this video and subsequently John Lewis every time I hear that song from Lily Allen now! Finishing with the tagline “Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget” and the John Lewis logo definitely captures the brand's message to consumers.

The advert cost an estimated £1m to make and was created by some of the artists behind Disney’s Lion King. It was also launched with a film-style “premiere”, taking up an entire ad break during ITV’s X Factor back in 2013. The channel actually had to rearrange the production schedule for the talent show just to accommodate the launch of this advert, costing an approximate £750,000. Money well spent I think.

Number 3

The Dairy Milk Drumming Gorilla Advert

This advert is Iconic.

Choosing Phil Collins - “In The Air Tonight” was a fantastic choice for such a great advert. If you take a quick second to look at the comments for the Youtube video attached, the top result is “Officially the best advert of all time. No exceptions” with 1.6k likes. It's a prime example that well paired music with a great video can make an advert remain in your memory forever - you can ask anyone about this advert and they will remember it.

Post this advert’s release, “In the Air Tonight” became a popular download reaching 14 in the UK Singles chart despite not being given a re-release and becoming the 3rd most downloaded song of the day on iTunes.

The advert also won a whole host of prestigious film awards including the Film Grand Prix Lion at Cannes Lions 2008, I don’t think I need to say any more than that.

So have a think - what is your favourite example of how music makes an advert memorable to you!