Monday, 23 September 2013

All ears

Music can have incredibly powerful effects on us. Not only can it touch us emotionally, but it can almost effortlessly evoke quite vivid memories and associations. Using melody can even be an effective tool for learning text [1] as any How I met your mother fans will be aware (Apple Orchard Banana Cat Dance 8663).

It is therefore little surprise that when BETC were looking to celebrate 30 years of Diet Coke, they used the Etta James track I Just Want To Make Love To You to evoke memories of the iconic nineties ad and give a nod to the brand's past. Getting the music right, can do wonders for the brand (and song).

In fact, advertisements have often launched songs and artists into the charts. A Little Less Conversation by Elvis Vs JXL rocketed to number one in the UK after featuring in a Nike advert. Would Mr. Oizo's Flat Beat have made it to number one if it wasn't for the association with Levi's? I doubt it. There are also plenty of bands who probably owe Apple a thank you for being selected to appear in their iPod ads (The Caesars, Jet, The Ting Tings).

Sometimes songs become so closely connected with advertisements that it seems odd to hear them when the ad is not playing. I still struggle to hear Adiemus' Cantilena without seeing a kid retrieve a pearl form the bottom of the ocean [2], or Leftfield's Phat Planet without seeing surfers rush into the sea in black and white [3].

I was therefore surprised when, the other day I heard M83's Outro playing from the kitchen, and wandered in to discover not Red Bull on the TV, but an advert for Persil:



It seemed odd for such a big brand to have used a song that was featured in an advertisement so recently, especially as both ads rely heavily on slow dramatic visuals to accompany the music. Part of the successful use of music in an ad has got to come down to a brand being able to “own” the music in the mind of the consumer. Although these aren't competing brands, the recency of the Red Bull ad seems likely to create noise for any encoding of the Persil advertisement. For completeness here's the Red Bull ad World of Red Bull:



Maybe it's coincidence, but this isn't the first time I've noticed re-use of music recently. In fact here’s another example with another song by M83. It features in the Renault advert for the Captur:



And was previously used in Gucci’s ad from mid 2012:



Even Samsung are at it with the new S4 ad:



The ad features the third movement from Vivaldi's Four Seasons: Summer. A clip that has previously been used for the HP Touchsmart, Homme Exceptionnel and as recently as October 2012 in a Next advertisement (although technically the music in the ad below is Vanessa Mae's Storm).



It seems crazy that brands who are fighting to put a unique stamp on a fairly homogeneous product type (such as laundry products), would choose to use a song that had been claimed by another brand. Surely in a world where it is increasingly easy to discover a wider variety of different sounds and new bands, the opportunities to "own" a piece of music are greater and the potential benefit of this for the brand huge.

What do you think? Are there any iconic songs from ads that are forever associated with a brand for you? Have you stumbled across any other songs that have been used in multiple ads?

Dan Siddle
Research Innovation Specialist

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