You know how the taste of something is like 50% based on smell, and communication is like 90% based on your body language? Well I submit that commercials are 100% based on the background music.
The genius ad agencies are the ones that grab your attention. It’s hard to grab peoples’ attention using visuals since most people look away during the commercials, plus the fact that we’re constantly barraged with visuals as we’re watching TV, so our eyes become used to constant stimulus.
It’s different with sound. Say you’re watching football, a sitcom, or a reality show. All you hear is constant cheering & play calling, laugh tracks & stupid jokes, and bitching and moaning, respectively. Then comes a commercial break. Time to go get another bowl of ice cream. But wait, where’s that strange, pleasing music coming from? It’s different than the mindless yakking about Taco Bell’s new spicy Volcano Taco, the liar shouting about the over-stock of Kia Sorento inventory, and the overly dramatic “preview voice guy” telling you how the next episode of Bones will blow your mind. You peer back at the TV in awe, and realize what’s playing is a commercial, but you’re enjoying it.
Has this ever happened to you? If it has, it was most likely one of the following top 5 best uses of music in a commercial (that I can remember):
Geico has spent tons of money on marketing over the last few years. And I thank them for that. Here is one of the best ads from the Caveman series, and it’s due largely to the song they chose to be playing in the background at the airport terminal. It is hip, sophisticated, and modern – which is exactly how Geico is portraying their cavemen.
The song is Remind Me by Royksopp.
#4. Apple iPod
Apple is, of course, a huge player in the music industry with its giant iTunes + iPod venture. It would only follow that they use great songs in their commercials. It’s almost guaranteed that if you get your song featured in an iPod commercial, your record is going platinum. While the commercials featuring CSS, Feist, Yael Naim, and Chairlift are very pleasing to listen to and watch (what’s with Apple’s infatuation with female singers?), my personal favorite was the ad for the iPod Classic that could play music videos.
The song is Original of the Species by U2
Nike is all about hype. What hypes you up better than music? People listen to it when they work out, right before they go on stage, or just before a football game. Nike has perfected the hype machine, and it’s never been done so flawlessly as it was done in the commercial just before the 2007 football season. I had never been so hyped for something in all my life. The commercial is poingnant by itself, but the music takes it to an epic level. It gives meaning and truth to the game of football, and it essentially elevates it above life itself. Even if you don’t like football, you will almost certainly become hyped by watching this commercial.
The song is based on The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack by Randy Edelman.
Sometimes a brand name has a complete turn-around simply because of a superb marketing department. Take Hardees for instance. They decided they were going to do something that hadn’t been done before and it kept the company alive. Another good example is Reese’s. Remember the commercials about “how X eats his/her Reese’s cup?” Those went out the window, and Hershey’s ushered in a brand new line of advertisements. Simpler. More profound. And with the coolest music I’ve ever heard in a marketing campaign. I only wish the commercials were longer than 20 seconds so I could hear more of the song. I couldn’t choose just one, so here are my three favorites in order:
The song is Needy Girl by Chromeo
The song is (Feels Like) Heaven by Fiction Factory
The song is The Perfect Meltdown by Bones Domingo.
You can download that last one from the Reese’s website or, in case they take away the free download at some point, directly from my website here.
#1. Gears of War
This is the best use of music in a commercial ever. There is something to be said about the contrast between the soft music and the violent visuals. There are no sound effects or voice-overs present, which lets the music completely stand out on its own. It sets this video game ad apart from the rest because it doesn’t have constant sound effects, heavy metal music, and voice-overs telling you about all the features in the game. You are left wondering about the game, and you’re more likely to go find out more, which is exactly what the creators want you to do. It also doesn’t hurt that this song is one of my personal favorites.
The song is Mad World by Gary Jules
Notice, not one of these commercials has a single spoken word. It proves that you don’t need to blabber about your product to sell it. It doesn’t mean you can’t, it just means that it’s not necessary quite so often.