Product placement in music is no new phenomenon, and its success is apparent to varying degrees. The popularity of this advertising method has soared in recent years, so prick up your ears and listen closely as we explore the phenomenon.
Let’s look back to when it all began – the 1980s. While Marty McFly had every kid in town asking their parents for a pair of Nike Cortez trainers after sporting them in “Back to the Future,” Billy Joel took a new approach to product placement with his hit, “Keeping the Faith.” In the song, Joel referenced four different brands in a single line; including Old Spice aftershave, Luckies and “a mint called Sen-Sen.” A new dawn of advertising had begun, and today – as noted by a University of Colorado-Denver professor in a recent study – brand mentions are at an all-time high. Cars, clothes, food, drink and everything in between can be found tucked not-so-sneakily into the lyrics of our chart-topping songs – and many bring a tidy return on investment to both businesses and artists alike.
Of those businesses, you’ll find several big-name car brands at the top of the list. It’s no secret that hip-hop and fast cars go hand-in-hand, and if you listen carefully to the charts, you’ll find the likes of Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Bentley regularly name dropped by our era’s most notable rappers and musicians. So much so, that eight of the top 12 most popular brands mentioned in Billboard’s Hot 100 songs over the last three years were automotive companies – and that was just in the top 20. Perhaps the most famous example of this would be just last year, when Drake rapped “park the Benz, just to ride the Wraith” in his song, ‘Portland,’ – a simple lyric that saw the manufacturer reach its second highest sales year of all time.
And while not every brand has the budget to pay for the likes of Drake, Jay-Z and Katy Perry to assist in gently nudging customers towards their products, the impact of sound in advertising remains undeniably strong. Whereas traditional advertising pushes products into the peripherals of the viewer in an often overwhelming fashion, product placement in audio takes a more subtle approach; reaching people where they least expect it, and slowly increasing brand recognition over time. Speak to customers on their level through something they enjoy, and they’re more likely to listen. The same idea applies to audio branding – highlighting a brand’s most important features and products, and showcasing them to a captive audience through sound.
Creativity goes a long way when it comes to marketing, and you don’t need to be featured in the next Beyoncé song to get noticed. A clear, concise message and carefully crafted Brand-Sound-Track™ will do it – sharing your content with the people who really want to hear it.