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Music Marketing Marketing Advertising

When music and marketing come together in harmony

By Emma Mulcahy, Staff writer

June 24, 2019 | 7 min read

Music marketing is becoming big business for brands looking to amp up the appeal of their product offering to consumers.

Sony Bravia, Cadburys, iPod and Pepsi

Sony Bravia, Cadburys, iPod and Pepsi

Always an intrinsic element of any advertising campaign, music has come center stage as an effective means of promoting your brand. Studies have shown that the part of the brain that processes music is the same that is responsible for emotions and memory. As such, it makes sense that brands wishing to create a positive impression of their brand would try to collaborate with well-liked music to benefit from the positive associations.

But it takes creativity to cut through the noise. Take for example Thom Yorke's innovative means of promoting his new solo material. The Radiohead front man commissioned posters advertising a number for people to call when they struggle to remember their dreams. When the number was dialed, an eerie answerphone message responded, stating that the company has been shut down. Following that, an excerpt of a song from Yorke’s album is played; in all, a creepy yet impacting campaign.

While Yorke has received praise for his music marketing campaign, another singer to hit the headlines recently has not been treated so favorably. At the height of Pride season, Taylor Swift decided to release her latest album of which the leading single is ‘You Need to Calm Down’ and focuses primarily on representing the LGBTQ+ community.

Unfortunately, the song has attracted attention for a lot of the wrong reasons; Swift has been accused of commodifying the Pride movement for her own financial gain by the community and been criticized for her depiction of both the hetero and homosexual communities in the video.

Despite the backlash that Swift has experienced, the effectiveness of collaborative music and marketing efforts can be seen clearly through other campaigns. Here The Drum looks back on some of the most memorable music marketing associations and how the music has become synonymous with the brand itself.

John Lewis: Christmas ad campaigns

It is impossible to think of Christmas and not immediately think of the John Lewis Christmas ads. The department store has become synonymous with the festive season through its run of emotionally compelling ads, powered by acoustic renditions of popular songs.

It is these soft-toned and stripped back songs that help to underpin the sentimental messages of the ads. Predominantly they celebrate children’s excitement around the festive season, as well as the altruistic feelings associated with it. As a result of the popularity of the John Lewis ads the cover versions make an appearance in the UK charts, and indeed Gabrielle Aplin’s ‘Power of Love’ rendition of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic was made 2012’s Christmas number 1. The ad also inspired a children's book.

The success of the John Lewis Christmas ads has triggered an onslaught of similar advertising from other retailers looking to cash in on the festive season.

John Lewis has partnered with Adam&Eve/ DDB in the production of these ads.

iPod x U2

Back in 2004 when Apple launched the iPod, it teamed up with internationally recognized rock band U2 to promote the product.

In what can almost now only be described as a music video, the ad opens on the immediately recognizable silhouette of Bono as he kicks off the song ‘Vertigo’. The thumping soundtrack playing alongside Apple’s now iconic rocking out silhouettes left a lasting impression on viewers, making the track now synonymous with the Apple brand.

The ad campaign was the brainchild of the Chiat/ Day agency.

Sony Bravia x Jose Gonzales

To celebrate the HD colors of its latest TV launch, Sony released this ad featuring unknown singer Jose Gonzalez’s cover of The Knife’s hit, ‘Heartbeats’.

The ad was launched in 2005 and sees thousands of brightly colored bouncy balls released down a hill in San Francisco. This imagery in conjunction with the stripped back nature of the cover has a mesmerizing effect on the viewer. This ad heralded an era of visually stunning advertising for Sony.

The creative was developed by Fallon London.

Cadbury's x Phil Collins

Previously voted the UK's favorite ad, this absurd spot featuring a gorilla, an empty rehearsal studio and a set of drums almost didn’t make it onto the screen. However, it went on to become the chocolate retailer’s most popular ad, launching a series of similar off-the-wall ads off the back of its success.

The ad features Phil Collins’ intense 1980 single ‘Air Tonight’ and sees a gorilla sitting at a set of drums, the music slowly building to the instantly recognizable drum solo. An unlikely pairing, the strange concept both hooked and puzzled viewers.

The creative was a collaboration between Cadbury's and Fallon London.

Pepsi x Queen

The year is 2004, pop music is at its absolute peak and the three women riding high on this trend are Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Pink. So what better way for Pepsi to promote its drink than by getting all three to star in its latest Gladiator-style commercial?

The Pepsi brand has a long history of collaborating with pop stars in its commercials, but this one, in particular, was both heavy on the star power and the music. The ad features the three artists’ rendition of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, dressed as gladiators and performed in the Colosseum before Emperor Enrique Iglesias. The crowd also features actual Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor. Kendall Jenner, take note

M&S x Fleetwood Mac

From 2004 until 2010, British high street retailer M&S was famed for its ‘This is not just food…’ ad campaign. Featuring the sultry overtones of Northern Irish actress Dervla Kirwan and slow motion close-ups of indulgent food items, the ads were dubbed “food porn”.

Intrinsic to the ads was the use of the Fleetwood Mac track ‘Albatross’; the soothing yet seductive riff plays in the background, adding to the overall sensuality of the ad. It is difficult to now hear that track without immediately thinking of M&S. Earlier this year M&S chose to humorously revive this ad as part of an ongoing move to modernize its brand.

The ad campaign was developed by RKCR/Y&R.

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