How to Use Music in Retail TV Advertising

Music, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful yet underutilized tools in advertising.

Anyone who remembers the mid-70s also remembers:

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a Sesame Seed Bun!!

Thirty years later I can still hum this old McDonald’s commercial. Times have changed, and trends in advertising music have definitely changed, but music’s role in advertising is as relevant as ever.

The biggest problem in today’s jingles is executions that push TOO HARD to make the viewer feel a certain way about the brand. Watching TV the other night, I saw a commercial for a local carpet store. At the end, a singer belts out gleefully:

JB factory carpets … the biggest … the best … always the lowest price!

I have to question whether I believe the singer’s sincerity. Is she really that happy about JB’s selection of fine carpets? Doubtful. And neither are the viewers.  It’s the classic mistake of an advertiser talking about themselves, rather than addressing the viewers wants from the viewer’s point of view. Or maybe it’s the trite use of “biggest and best” … which ranks right up there with other homogenous phrases like “we won’t be undersold.”

True, the old McDonalds piece is a list of what you get on a burger. But it had charm and invited viewers to participate in seeing whether or not they could remember the list. And most importantly, the singers never hit you over the head with a refrain of “limited time only.

Like many jingles in the 80s, the music painted a happy vibe that viewers associated with the brand. Remember Dr. Pepper’s “I’m a pepper, you’re a pepper”? And Toyota’s “I love what you do for me? Major advertisers haven’t forgotten how music can build brands …the executions have simply evolved.

Ba da ba-ba-ba … I’m Lovin’ It.

Indeed, I am. Here, McDonalds does it again. The music (and singers) establish an emotional connection with the listener, letting the Voice Over do the selling. The overall result is a commercial that reminds customers that McDonalds is more than just a value menu – but an experience you WANT to have.

Of course, there are times when the singer/music has to contribute a little more muscle within the message. Like singing the phone number for example. Just make sure the melody isn’t overly sappy if the lyrics are little more than a set of digits.

The music in this commercial humorously plugs the word “Free” 9 times within the span of 15 seconds. This is a perfect example of music conveying a very pointed message.

 

Here, a musical sting at the end of the spot reinforces the phone number. This is a more aggressive example of using music to achieve a very specific communication goal.

 

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