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Music in Advertising

It’s really interesting how music affects us in ways that we don’t even realize. The more that we understand how pervasive music is in our daily lives, the more we can understand the power of music and music therapy. I had some YouTube videos playing in the background while I was cooking one day when I heard yet another ad pop up. This time, I knew exactly what this ad was about because I recognized the first few bars of music and related it to this ad. That made me wonder, how does music play a role in advertising? I did a little bit of research and this is what I’ve come up with.

Brand loyalty is important to companies because it means that their sales are consistent and they don’t constantly have to appeal to new markets. Though it’s often quantified through customer purchases and repeat visits, loyalty is also an emotional attachment. In this day and age what consumers look for in their brands are what they look for in a friendship: personalization, empathy, responsiveness, and contextual awareness.

This is where music comes in handy. Advertisers know that music triggers an emotional response in us and use it to their advantage. But, the type of music that’s most effective is different depending on the message you’re trying to send.

According to Julanne Schiffer of Nielsen Entertainment, “Popular songs, for example, are the most effective at invoking some kind of emotional response. But, while pop songs deliver emotive power, other genres are better suited for price and promotional-based ads that are trying to get information across to audiences. In fact, the study found that generic background music helps improve information power. Advertiser jingles help make the brand seem in touch, but they don’t generate as much empathy as other forms of music.”

Even still, you have to be mindful of the use of popular songs vs. lesser-known songs. Top 40 songs are often overplayed in stores and on the radio, so using one of those songs in your advertisement could make it annoying and forgettable. However, if you choose an appropriate lesser-known song, it can make the advertisement fresh and memorable.

Consumers are also more likely to want to buy a product if the advertisement has a positive message vs a negative one. One study showed that a positive soundtrack (major chords and fast-paced music) in a soap commercial had more purchasing power than a negative soundtrack (minor chords and slow-paced music).

Music is also key to creating a story in an advertisement, which can make it more memorable. Think of a romantic scene in a movie you’ve watched. What kind of music are you hearing in the background? Now think of that scene but instead with the Jaws theme playing. Does it give you the same feeling? That’s how music can help create a story, and advertisers notice this too! Basically, music sets the tone for the feeling and message the companies want to convey to the audience. Without music, the advertisement’s pitch would fall flat.

Let’s take a look at one quick example:

This is a German commercial for Edeka, which is one of the largest supermarket corporations in Germany. It opens with a scene of an elderly man receiving a message from his adult daughter saying that they won’t make it home for Christmas that year. It cuts to the man eating dinner alone, and then to another scene where his children find out about his death. They all arrive at the house dressed in black and in tears, but find the house lit and decorated for dinner. The man appears from the corner, asking “How else was I supposed to get all of you together?” It ends with a happy family dinner. Watch how the music underscores and tells the story.

Notice how the music amplifies the message of the commercial: “Time to Come Home”. To Edeka, home means time spent with family over the dinner table. You see how, especially around the Christmas season, this would be a great way to promote your brand and message. If consumers see your commercial and it reminds them of family meals, warmth, and laughter, then they will be more inclined to shop for their family at your company. Even the lyrics of the song (which was specifically composed for this commercial) hammer home this message.

You've been on my mind all the time

And I'm missing you

Home used to be just some walls that I knew

But the truth is that home means nothing without you

Here are links to the articles and studies I reference in this video:

Selecting the Right Music in Advertising:

Positive Messaging in Advertising:

Want to learn more about music therapy? Book a free consultation here!

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