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Music in Commercials: How and Why It’s Used

You may not have registered this, but few commercials come without some kind of music in them. If it’s not a jingle that tries to get into your head, then it’s a background tune that supports the ad.

Turns out it’s not just advertisers’ wish that makes so much music appear in ads. Music in commercials has a huge influence on customers, and that’s been proven by numerous studies.

Here is why advertisers pay so much to get cool jingles into their ads.

Fighting for Eyeballs

Funding a TV advertising campaign is a task requiring millions of dollars. For example, you’d have to pay up to $8,000 for a 30-second spot on CNN. The fact that your target audience who’ve been watching Don Lemon’s program, are now walking to their fridges doesn’t help either.

So, if you want to get people back to the TV, you have to get their attention somehow. Nowadays, most marketers understand that people hate ads. When you can find anything you want on Google, watching another cereal ad is just a waste of time.

This is where music comes into play. It’s a great way to get someone’s attention, regardless of what kind of ad is playing.

Ads compete for people’s attention all the time. This is why many adverts go for epic imagery or humor to get people watching.

Advertisers know that if you don’t get people’s attention, you’ll just throw money down the drain. As Ehrenberg-Bass Institute study shows, people are only able to remember 16% of ads they’ve seen on a given day.

If there’s an 84% chance your advertising budget is being wasted, paying for a new jingle to make it to that 16% is a good investment.

Changing the Mood

Ads are fleeting. You only watch them for 30 seconds on TV and 5 seconds on YouTube before hitting the Skip button. In most cases, they do not aim to achieve sales directly. Rather, marketers hope that they will form a positive association with the brand.

Big brands like Mercedes or Procter&Gamble have enough money to spend on TV ads to make the audience associate their brands with something good. Once the association is there, there’s a chance that they will remember about Mercedes when they want a prestigious car.

While voiceover and motto play a huge role here, you can’t underestimate the music. It’s not verbal, and many people who consider themselves rational would deny it influences them. But the truth is music changes mood. What’s more important, it changes perception.

When you listen to elated music, you get into a better mood and are likely to associate the good feeling with the brand. It’s quite the opposite of what you want to see in an informative ad, but it works.

Playing joyful music that sounds like it’s from a cartoon is especially effective for ads targeting kids.

Enhancing Memory

With only 16% of adverts making it to people’s hearts and minds, boosting memorability of your ad is a must. What’s the purpose of the ad, if nobody remembers it after an hour?

Something weird or funny happening on the screen is sure to be memorable, but a great piece of music might be even better.

Music is so intrinsic to memory that scientists were able to get people with brain trauma to remember things from their past with the help of songs. Associations with music are great for long-term memory, and you can test it yourself by listening to a song you heard a year or two ago. The odds are, you’ll remember something positive you were doing while listening to it.

However, there has to be a lot of exposure to the ad to form a bond. Once there, the memory is hard to get rid of, though. This is why you don’t have to see this ad to say what company is being advertised.

Targeting Audience

Different kinds of people love different music. It goes farther than playing the latest rap banger over a festival announcement. For instance, you can’t get the attention of a typical 40-year-old with Billy Eilish’s song. However, a typical 14-year-old may watch the whole ad.

Marketologists who do prior research and know what type of music their audience likes, are more likely to get their attention. If they can’t buy the rights, they can at least hire a composer to create something with a similar vibe.

Building a Brand Image

A good ad has to evoke positive emotions that make it easier to remember a brand. An excellent ad makes you associate the brand with values that it wants to promote.

This is what makes a pair of Nike snickers not just another shoes but a way to feel stronger, faster, and able to achieve great things. Sure, the message and the imagery in the ad form that value, but it is the background music that supports it.

Now, compare this to a Mercedes ad. The values that this company tries to get across are very different. So is the music.

Appealing to Authority

People rarely buy products based on objective research. We’re all biased, and it plays a huge role in our decision to buy something. One of our biases is authority.

Countless experiments have proved that we’re likely to do something if a person who we trust orders it. The same goes for deciding what grill to buy.

Even though the effectiveness of celebs in advertising is diminishing, their hit songs sell just as well. Using a song by a well-known author is the ultimate solution for an ad. It draws attention, it evokes positive feelings, and it acts as a celebrity endorsement.

Sometimes, the desire to leverage this goes too far. In 2005, Opel hired a singer who copied Tom Waits’s voice for an ad after the singer refused to work with them.

The Quiet Influence of Music

Few people can admit they went to an essay company and said “edit my paper” because of the jingle they’ve heard on YouTube. It’s always the price, the convenience, or the deadline. However, music is still there, in the background, doing its job of getting you to watch the ad and remember it.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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