The M-Factor: the relevance of music in advertising

A bit of history.

Year 1880. Music and advertising meet for the first time. The product? The first funicular railway on Mount Vesuvius, in Naples, Italy. The song? “Funiculì Funiculà”, a musical invitation to step aboard and try such an innovative means of transportation. The lyrics “Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà Funiculì, funiculà!” convey what could be considered as a primal form of call to action. The budding copywriter was a journalist, Giuseppe Turco, while the music was composed by Luigi Denza (1).

Let’s fast forward to year 1999. Moby’s album Play transforms the relationship between music and advertising forever. The tracks contained in the album are heavily licensed to films, TV shows and commercials, and a semi-unknown, niche artist reaches worldwide success and sells 12 million copies. After Moby, other artists perceive the big potential of advertising in reaching new fans, and brands and marketers do not miss this opportunity. Among others, some notable examples are The Dandy Warhols with “Bohemian Like You” for Vodafone (2001), Elvis Presley vs. JXL with “A little less conversation” for Nike (2002).

Let’s rewind. Even before Moby, in the 90ies, other marketers contribute to transform songs in legends. This is the case of Levis with Bombastic by Shaggy (1995), Opel with Born Slippy by Underworld (1995, Opel Astra), Limoncé with Lemon tree by Fools Garden (1997), Swatch with Breathe by Midge Ure (1997).

Year 2020: The Golden Age of Sound. This definition coined by Spotify well conveys the current situation. The global reach of Spotify, with 270 million global users a month (2), has opened new windows of opportunity for brands wishing to entertain their target. It is not surprising that Spotify was the platform that was most used by brands during the Covid-19 lockdown in their efforts to remodel their plans and programs into new ones, based on entertainment. Find out more here.

(1) Source: Ninja Marketing - Spot e musica: storia di una partnership fruttuosa che arriva da lontano
(2) Source: Spotify L'Italia che Ascolta

From the Cornetto ice cream case in Italy…

Ice cream and music: Unilever’s TV commercials have always bet on big hits to back their products with a memorable soundtrack that would accompany consumers in their Italian summers. In recent years, for their Italian communications the famous ice cream cone chose to bet on the big names of Italian music in line with the local product storytelling.

  • 2015 – Cremonini, with “Logico” and “Buon Viaggio” (Share the love)
  • 2016 - Fedez and J-Ax “Vorrei ma non posto”
  • 2017 - Tiziano Ferro with “Lento/Veloce”
  • 2018 - Fedez and J-Ax “Italiana”

… To new product placement forms

The examples are numberless. From Chris Brown’s Forever that mentions Orbit mints to Lady Gaga’s Telephone packed with names of sponsors (Miracle Whip, Polaroid, Virgin Mobile, Hp, up to dating website Plenty of Fish). A study by Colorado University found that brand mentions in songs total over 2,500 instances, of which over 50% in songs released between 2000 and 2010. And which is the most mentioned brand? Gucci, appearing in over 1,000 songs, which confirms the strong bond between fashion and hip hop (3).

In recent years product placement has found a new and flourishing segment in the music video industry. A category that is particularly active in this respect is that car manufacturers, for instance Fiat with Jennifer Lopez.

(3) Source: Rolling Stone

Music & Advertising - Sounds good!

This fast journey into the past shows that music and advertising have historically proven to be a successful duo. Music is not only one of the last ingredients to be added to the creative process but rather a key strategic asset of creativity. This is the case, for instance, with the beautiful Heineken campaign Ode to empty pubs released during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Music is everywhere

Unlike other multimedia content, audio can be with us constantly. It can move with us whether we are, whether at work, on the go or at play, at home, around the world or while we are commuting. The ubiquity of audio also allows brands to reach consumer anywhere. Research shows that consumers expect brands to connect with them when it is most appropriate and that ads should take into account the context. (4)

(4) Source: Pulse, Spotify DITL Recontacting Study, August 2017, U.S., U.K., AU

Source: Global Web Index, 2018

Source: Spotify, first-party data, global, 2018

Source: Spotify trend survey among 4,000 respondents 15-37 globally [U.S., MX, BR, FR, DE, U.K., PH, AU], February 2019

Music means memorability

Source: Non chiamatemi Jingle - Musica, brand ed evoluzione digitale

Source: LeanLab, Spotify Global through August 2018 vs. unexposed control group

Source: LeanLab, Spotify Global through August 2018 vs. unexposed control group

Music as a feeling generator

"Memorability is not the only factor that makes music so relevant in advertising – also its ability to generate feelings plays a bit role. Music acts both on the conscious and the unconscious of listeners. This is why introducing in your campaigns audio and music ads that are able to create emotional recall in users is a great strategy when the aim is persuading consumers. If having a USP is key in marketing, music can add what we could call an ESP, an Emotional Selling Proposition. Music is able to spark emotions and long-lasting associations with a brand. The old jingles remained in your mind because they focused on the product but today music in ads creates emotions and underscores a brand’s storytelling." (11)

11. Federico Giorgio Marrano (Marketing Director Confectionary Nestlè) - La filiera del Marketing Musicale

Music and The Ad Store

The Ad Store is well aware of the power of music in connecting brands with consumers and contributing to memorability. This is confirmed by the data we collect with our regular monitoring activities of trends and insights as well as the results of the international surveys conducted through our target listening platform called Ad Personam.

Here and here you will find some of our latest works where music takes center stage in our creativity.

The first example is an integrated campaign for Panini Stickers, featuring Italian rapper celebrity Rocco Hunt. With his million streams on Spotify, Rocco is the lead character and lead voice of this TV commercial, while the music is a song he personally rewrote and rearranged for Panini. The campaign was made in collaboration with Sony Music.

The second TV ad is for Parmacotto, a leading cooked ham producer, which belongs to the post-lockdown context. It not only marks the brand comeback on TV, but it is also a sort of powerful and contemporary mantra inviting people to find new awareness, getting back to authenticity after the forced break caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Once more, music and sound design were central to give the ad the right energy and memorability. Here the music was originally composed and produced for Parmacotto by Operà Music.

Two campaigns with different targets, objectives, and musical production approaches. But this is the beauty of music: with seven notes you can do anything, for anyone. Music is universal.

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