Throughout the history of art and advertising, words and images have been evocative forms but neither come close to the emotional pulling power of music.
Perhaps it’s a primal thing, but our brains just seem to be wired to respond to rhythm and melody. Combine that effect with words and imagery and you’ve really got someone’s undivided attention.
As a musician, I’m all for protecting the integrity and context of an existing song. And yet, as a copywriter, I also acknowledge that an established track can get a new lease of life and sometimes even take on an extra dimension when matched up with a commercial brand or a piece of entertainment content.
A case in point would be Peter Allen’s ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ which has been quite literally lifted to another level via the Qantas campaigns cementing the song’s iconic cultural status.
Music, be it purpose-made or simply borrowed interest, can bring so much to the advertising table by providing another layer of: storytelling, humour, irony, pathos, energy or just good old goosebumps.
Now, of course, it’s always arbitrary but from the past decade I’ve selected some examples I think have hit the spot ‘tonally’. In each, I believe the choice and execution of the music has enhanced and served the message well.
Take Wolf Blass’s ‘Silk Glove’, for example, with its opening heartbeats and haunting cello. This original music was specially composed for the brand by Hunters & Collectors founding member, Jeremy Smith. It’s not commercially available in a longer format – though many wish it was.
Tourism Victoria’s classic Yarra Valley spot, ‘Hide and Seek’ makes ingenious use of the old 1930s ditty, ‘Run Rabbit Run’. Written by Noel Gay and Ralph Butler, the song became even more of a wartime favourite after Flanagan and Allen sang it with the altered lyrics: ‘Run Adolf, Run Adolf, Run, Run, Run…’
Speaking of dark themes, as a matter of interest, there’s a clever spoof combining this ad’s footage with the menacing music from the cult film, Donnie Darko. It’s on YouTube and is entitled ‘Run Rabbit Run… No, really, RUN!’
On a lighter note, Lionel Richie’s party anthem ‘All Night Long’ was given a tongue-in-cheek twist for Conrad Jupiters in late 2006 to celebrate the casino’s 20th anniversary. (The original track had been used as the jingle for the 1987 opening.) The remake for the ‘Tonight’ ad was sung by Daniel McGahan (who sang ‘He Changed Our World’ at the Steve Irwin Memorial that same year) and a pre-Underbelly Gyton Grantley adlibs his own moves in this great little spot that just makes you wanna get lucky!
Queensland-based charity Angel Flight knows how to evoke emotion: firstly with its earlier use of Sarah McLachlan’s ethereal ‘Angel’ then later in its ‘Signs’ ad – which features a sparsely beautiful original score by Brisbane composer, Pete Jones.
And, finally, who doesn’t love a little hard rock parody? Especially when it involves a deadpan serious performance from the (now ageing) original band. I’m talking about the reworked ‘Eye of the Tiger’ in Starbucks’ ‘Glen’ spot. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ was penned by Survivor in 1982 for ‘Rocky III’ (because Stallone was unable to get permission to use Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’); that year, it went on to become a No.1-charting, platinum-selling, Grammy-winning phenomenon. And, appropriately, it’s been used ever since as a kind of soundtrack for ambition. It definitely is the go-to song of choice whenever there’s a training or self improvement scene. (Besides, even Rocky had a montage!)
Anyway, music in advertising is way too big a topic to analyse in just one post so we might just be back with more on this one. Stay tuned.
Does anyone have any thoughts on these examples or perhaps some other instances where music has been used well in advertising?
Here’s a quick Top 8 to get you started: