Music can be a pretty powerful thing. Who amongst us hasn’t bawled like a baby when Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” comes on? How many can resist the first few chords of “Dust in the Wind?” There’s a reason we all have earbuds and speakers at the ready!
A song can create powerful associations with an object, memory, or person, It’s the same reason why we remember the song of our first slow dance and the exact tune we belted when we were forced to do karaoke on our 21st birthday. Music is also impactful when it comes to advertising. The right song in a commercial can make you forever remember and associate with a brand.
What companies played the right tracks? Who missed a few notes? Let’s look at the best and worst uses of music in TV ads!
#1: Jet & Apple
Back before we could play music on our phones, we all relied on our handy iPods. Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” was one of the hit songs that shadow people grooved to in these classic ads. The song was upbeat enough to make you feel like dancing… and run out to buy your own iPod.
#2: Sarah McLachlan & ASPCA
Please note: The use of music is what’s best about these ads, not the subject matter. You can’t deny the power of Sarah McLachlan’s “In The Arms Of The Angel.” The song evokes emotion, sends a powerful message, and demands a stop to animal cruelty. It also makes you really want to adopt a puppy, like now.
#3: Haley Reinhart & Extra Gum
Ah, young love! Extra Gum captured the feeling of butterflies so beautifully with Haley Reinhart’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” The 2015 ad gives us emotional storytelling and the sweet, minty taste of youth – an innocent time when we’d ask for gum in the hallways and skip class to make-out under the bleachers.
#4: Bob Seger & Chevrolet
Chevrolet wants you to know their trucks are rugged and tough. It only made sense to bring on a raspy-voiced rockstar like Bob Seger for their commercials. His classic hit “Like a Rock” is now associated with the brand, and good thing… Could you imagine if they used “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred instead? Yikes.
#5: Snoop Dogg & Sun Drop
Before he was in the kitchen with Martha Stewart, Snoop was all over the radio with “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Sun Drop’s ad shows that music can also provide humor, especially when your brand name and the song title share a key word.
Watch the full list of top music and ad pairings!
Now it’s on to the worst! While the songs themselves are great, they get ruined by their use in these lackluster ads. If these horrible music/brand pairings prove anything, it’s that even big name companies have missteps from time to time.
#1:The Rolling Stones & Pepsi
Everything about this commercial is extremely annoying, most notably, the buzzing bug with the creepy Mick Jagger mouth. When it sings The Rolling Stone’s “Brown Sugar,” you immediately want to turn the volume way down. Someone grab a flyswatter!
#2: Johnny Cash & Preparation H
The Man in Black would never have wanted his work used this way. Luckily, the plug was pulled on this commercial before Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” became associated with painful hemorrhoids. Take this as an example of how not every commercial benefits from a song.
#3: Jane’s Addiction & Jack Daniels
It sometimes pays to know the backstory of a song before you use it in a commercial. Jack Daniels learned that the hard way when they chose “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction, a song about addiction, for their commercial. Even if it’s not intentional, it comes across as insensitive.
#4: The Zombies & Tampax
For whatever reason, Tampax thought it was important for people to know they were around during the 60s hippie revolution. This fact is punctuated by the classic psychedelic tune, “The Time of the Season” by the Zombies. The song is weirdly out of place, as is the overall message.
#5: Bill Withers & Pringles
Just because the Pringles can has a face, doesn’t mean it should open its mouth and sing. This is especially true if it’s going to belt out a classic like “Use Me” by Bill Withers. If your ad is going to destroy a good song, and make people think of the Pringles guy instead of Bill Withers, it’s not worth the brand boost.
Cover your ears and see all these ads in action!
According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, music engages the areas of the brain involved in paying attention. Love the songs or hate them, using music is a surefire way to get the audience to notice your ad.
Of course, it could be for all the wrong reasons. If you sell a product that’s modern, it makes sense to pair it with a current hit. However, if your product is inherently awkward, leave music out of your ad. We’re looking at you Viagra commercial that used “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley and replaced it with “Viva Viagra.” Come on now, don’t do that to the King.
Be mindful when using music in your ads, show respect to the artists, and most importantly, make sure your message makes sense.
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Alyssa loves food. A LOT. Particularly pizza and popcorn, but she knows beggars can’t be choosers. When she’s not stuffing her face (which is rare), she loves watching movies, playing volleyball and softball, and engaging in any number of interesting shenanigans. If she had to pick a spirit animal, she’d be an otter because they are playful and love to laugh. Most of the time she’s laughing at herself, whether other people are laughing with or at her is to be determined.
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