Does your marketing hit the right notes?
The other day, we were flicking through Apple TV looking for a movie to watch with the kids. We were spoilt for choice with Frozen 2, Onward, Toy Story 4 and one we’d never heard of before: Abominable. It was hardly the front-runner amongst the other heavy hitters. That was, until we watched the trailer.
As soon as I heard the hauntingly beautiful cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic You Can Go Your Own Way, I immediately got goosebumps. Rational decision-making would have seen us purely won over by Toy Story 4’s 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Instead, we were completely led by emotion, and locked in Abominable. And therein lies the power of music in marketing.
Interestingly (and somewhat annoyingly), the Fleetwood Mac track did not appear in the feature at all, it was just used for the trailer.
Music in advertising
Music can make or break an ad.
Consumer neuroscience research company Neuro-Insight released a study that found that music in TV advertising is linked to long-term memory encoding (LTME.)
Ads that are driven by their soundtrack are best at creating long term memories, particularly when song lyrics match the action. Ads that used music like this were 14% more efficient than those that use passive, background music.
A great example of the lyrics and tempo matching what is happening on screen is this spot for Sony Bravia featuring the epic Heartbeats by Jose Gonzales.
Sony Bouncy Balls
Telling a Story
Music can evoke the desired emotion.
Based on advertising campaign performance, 31% of ads with emotional pull succeeded versus the 16% success of ads that focused on rational content.
Advertisers need to have a clear idea of the emotion they want to evoke in viewers — and the type of music that might create it. While the music on its own can be a powerful tool, it becomes far more effective when it highlights or corresponds to a story arc.
Take this animated film for Viagra which is a big departure from their previous campaigns focused on “performance” and packing an emotional punch. Who doesn’t love I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers? This cover by Sleeping at Last was the perfect choice for this creative.
Viagra Love Story
Music as an element of a brand’s identity
Brands without advertising budgets need not miss out on the benefits of music in marketing. Now more than ever, brands are using video and audio mediums so it makes sense to include music tracks as part of a brand’s overall identity. Instead of relying on stock libraries filled with on-hold music as the background track for our explainer videos and podcast episodes, we commissioned an original track for our business. I paid a local musician in Newcastle, NSW $1000 AUD and I’m overjoyed with the result.
Just like our logo, visual identity and messaging, this music track is now part of our unique brand identity and is synonymous with our brand.
A grassroots approach
You don’t need millions in the kitty to tap into the power of music in marketing. Sure, you won't be able to secure a Rolling Stones track as Microsoft did, or a Johnny Cash song as Nike has, but small brands can still look at a grassroots approach.
A few years ago I was engaged as a marketing consultant for a funeral home in Queensland, Australia. They wanted a new TV spot that would stand out from their competitors, but how different can you make a balloon release, hearse arriving at a church, and a coffin with flower arrangement look? Instead of trying to create something unique with visuals, as this was proving difficult, I suggested they look at the music.
I discovered Kate Miller-Heidke, a folk-pop Australian artist had roots in Toowoomba, which is where my client was based. Going through her song list, I found a track that was nowhere near as popular as her hit singles called Beautiful Darling. It had the exact tone I was looking for. I reached out to Kate’s people and was given a ballpark figure of $5000 AUD to use the song. This was extremely reasonable and a drop in the ocean for funeral homes.
Unfortunately, the client could not see the benefit but I shall let you decide which TVC would have made more of a splash.
Beyond the TVC, investing in the track would have made for a brilliant grassroots PR campaign highlighting the connection between the artist and the local area. The earned media exposure alone would have covered the music license fee.
With dwindling attention spans and growing dislike of advertising in general, music has the power to make content not only endurable but enjoyable. So if you’re looking to leave a lasting impression, it might be worth thinking about music first, and not leaving it as an afterthought in the creative process.
Mia Fileman is the cofounder of Idiello, a DIY marketing platform. Download Idiello’s free Brand Collaboration During a Crisis toolkit here.