We all remember a film scene for its soundtrack, or an advert enhanced by an epic song. These pairings often seem so effortless and obvious – as though the tracks were made for their visual counterpart – but sometimes, when the professionals get it wrong, we’re reminded that finding the perfect sound isn’t always so easy.
It was only a matter of weeks since Russian official Liudmila Grekova made an unconventional musical choice during the mayor’s inauguration. In a bid to make the ceremony feel a little more modern, she chose the classic sci-fi Star Wars theme as the mayor made his entrance. It wasn’t a very statesman-like arrival, and while Grekova’s intentions seemed innocent, this single decision ultimately ended in her resignation.
Grekova isn’t the first person to pick out something unsuitable, and it’s moments like these that highlight the importance of audio and what’s at stake for the minds behind the music.
Music is incorporated in more than 90% of television advertisements (Abolhasani, Oakes and Oakes, 2017) because, when done well, it creates emotional impact, makes content memorable, and in turn, maximises sales. Jose Gonzalez’s ‘Heartbeats’ playing alongside Sony’s ‘Balls’ advert is a perfect example – as well as the more recent John Lewis Christmas hit featuring Elton John himself singing one of his biggest hits. The song choices make these short snippets remembered long after their release – but amidst successes like these, there are also countless brands alienating their audiences with bad music choices.
Over a decade ago, Jack Daniel’s used Jane’s Addiction’s popular hit ‘Jane Says’ for their TV commercial – presumably before checking out the backstory. The tale behind this track is one of addiction and abuse – possibly the worst thing to associate yourself with as an alcohol brand. Royal Caribbean Cruises made a similar mistake when they chose ‘Lust for Life’ by Iggy Pop for their 2003 commercial – a family-oriented ad accompanied by a song famously promoting a drug-fueled lifestyle. Then, there’s Garnier Fructis with ‘Diamonds and Guns’, the Beats Pill with ‘Blurred Lines’ and Mercedes taking Janis Joplin’s tongue-in-cheek ‘Oh Lord Won’t you Buy me a Mercedes-Benz’ quite literally.
So how does a brand go about finding the perfect sound? The right track must be two things: in line with their personality, and targeted at the right demographic. Advertisements that try and please everyone are at in fact at risk of losing, well, everyone.
The same rules apply for musicians. If a band changes their sound or message in pursuit of wider success, they could quickly lose their following.
Just as successful artists make music for the people that know and appreciate their unique style, a brand sound should develop their audio identity around their target audience. Musicians that get greedy often sacrifice their fan base, and in business, those who don’t define their brand can lose out too. Understanding your consumers is the only way to be successful.
PHMG’s Brand-Sound-Tracks™ are true to this philosophy. From the rhythm we choose to the instruments we use, everything involved in the production of our tracks has purpose. We compose each one exclusive to the client because it’s the best way to define their identity – and target the audiences that really matter. That’s how you keep your consumers listening.