Music in TV Advertisements: 10 Examples of the Best and Worst
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about sensory marketing and how marketers use our five senses to attract our attention. Our sense of hearing is important, but it’s difficult to associate a particular sound or song to a specific brand or product.
Marketers and advertisers realize this, and as a result they try to find the best music to include in their commercials.
Sometimes the songs they select are a huge success and will forever be associated with that particular brand or product, like NBC’s infamous chime. Other times though, customers will mute the TV when they hear the beginning notes for an ad.
I’ve found some great examples of commercials that effectively use music, and I’ve asked others about the commercials they hate hearing. Here’s what I found!
The Best of the Best: Commercials with Effective Music
1. One of my favorite songs has been included in United Airlines’ ads for a few years now. Glenn Miller Orchestra’s rendition of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ may not ring any bells, but after listening to it you’ll recognize it:
Instead of having a narrator explain that actually going to a meeting is a much better way to get your point across than by holding a conference call, the illustrations and music do the talking. This particular ad is both a joy to the eyes and the ears!2.
One of our resident video game fans, Jeff, suggested the Gears of War trailer featuring ‘Mad World’ by Michael Andrews as an awesome example. After watching it, I completely agree with him! The song itself is really powerful, but add in the images of the game and you’ve got yourself one powerful ad!
This ad is done beautifully. There’s no way watching it that you would expect it to be for a video game, it’s done in such a way that makes it seem like a movie trailer. Simple and breath-taking are the two words I’d use to describe this commercial.3.
This next ad has mixed reviews — some love it, while others can’t stand it. I like it and still chuckle when it comes on TV, so I included it on my “best” list. It’s unique, because instead of singing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ the actors speak the lyrics, until you get closer to the end…
Click here to view
Cosmopolitan Las Vegas’ tagline is: “Just the right amount of wrong.” Choosing to speak the lyrics of this song (which, I’m a fan of) instead of singing them like Queen probably intended is wrong, but quirky and creative – and somehow right, all at the same time.
4. I can’t remember which sporting event I was watching when I first saw this next commercial, but I remember bobbing my head along to it even after it ended. It’s just catchy enough to be memorable, but not one that I’ll remember in fifteen years from now and cringe.
‘The Power is On’ by The Go! Team is a great song to feature in this ad because it does exactly what the NFL’s Play 60 is all about. Getting up and moving! This commercial wouldn’t have near the effect as it does now if a slower song was featured. Their marketing and advertising team did a great job with this!
5. I loved this ad Amazon did for their Kindle a few years ago. It features Annie Little’s ‘Fly Me Away’ and didn’t look like anything else that was on TV during the time. Since then, there have been similar commercials with different music, but the same look.–6.
When I first learned about the Jeep wave
a few years ago, it blew my mind that something like that existed! Unwritten rules like that always fascinate me, so when I saw this commercial for Volkswagen’s Beetle I instantly wanted to go and give a high five to a VW Beetle owner. Shirley’s Ellis’ song, aptly named, ‘The Clapping Song,’ is catchy and perfect for this ad. You’d swear it was written specifically for this ad and not recorded back in 1965.–7.
Enterprise Rent-a-Car is always the first company that comes to mind when I think of rental cars. I know others exist, but their ads aren’t as clever and use my sense of hearing to attract my attention quite like Enterprise. They have several commercials that feature, ‘Send Me on My Way’ by Rusted Root and every one of them gets me humming along — that’s probably why I only think of Enterprise!
The Best of the Worst: Commercials with Misplaced Music
8. I’m not afraid to admit it: the first few times I heard LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem,’ I sang along (and did, in fact, ‘party rock’ to it). However, this song was not only overplayed on the radio, but every single store started playing it, and then came the dancing hamsters. Kia, I love you; your cars may be stylish and affordable, but this commercial immediately makes me change the channel.9.
Ozzy Osbourne released ‘Crazy Train’ in 1987 and the rock world was probably never the same again. Many consider it to be Ozzy’s signature song, which is why it’s interesting that it showed up in a Honda Pilot commercial being sung by a road-tripping family. Probably not what Ozzy had imagined this song twenty-five years later! The clip I’ve included is an extended version of the commercial, so enjoy!
11. I asked a few friends which ads they loved and hated, and someone recommended this one from Golden Grahams from the 1980s. I didn’t remember it, but after watching it just once I can see how this would get really annoying, really quick. I guess if you wanted to, you could blame it on the 80s, but that it isn’t fair to blame an entire decade for this rendition of The Turtles’ ‘Happy Together’!
The biggest thing I noticed with the bad examples was that they were modern versions of once-popular songs. Not only do companies risk turning consumers off with their version, but the once enjoyable version as well. Who wants to be the company that ruined a beloved song?
Another annoyance I have is the number of times these ads are played. Repetition is part of marketing, and I understand that they need to be played a lot so that they capture new audiences tuning in at different times. But I hate watching a thirty-minute show and seeing the same ad four times! My advice would be to space out the number of times it’s aired and vary the channels it’s shown on, too.
Personal annoyances aside, to all the marketers and advertisers out there:
Please be creative and don’t be afraid to try something new! I can’t guarantee it won’t flop, but at least it’s one less outlet to deal with crazy ranting customers.
Do you have a favorite commercial that uses music to sell to customers? Do you find it effective? Are you angry at me for having you watch the really bad examples? Sound off below!