Advertising & Music : The Happily Married Couple

It’s not much to say one is in a relationship anymore.  Used to be (at least I’ve been told, I really don’t know) when someone says ‘yeah, we’re married’ the appropriate response was ‘congratulations!’.  Now…it’s ‘ohh, for how much longer?’ The divorce rate is what, half?! Ridiculous.  It’s one thing to say you’re married, it’s another entirely now to say you’re happily married.  That’s the difference: that’s when you know it’s real, it’s pure and it’s going to last.  Happily married equates soul mates.  That’s advertising and music.

Advertising has been around as long as the pyramids if not longer, so has music.  Yet they didn’t really find each other until the origin of the jingle, which is unclear in itself.  Some say Wheaties, others say Lucky Strike. Whatever it was, this relationship got hot and heated…FAST.  The point of advertising is to persuade the audience to purchase the product advertised.  The jingle caught on so fast it quickly became such a saturated market that audience they were singing to couldn’t tell the difference between jingles.  It took a while, but jingles died out.

Yet this flame never extinguished between advertising and music.  The 80’s & 90’s saw some glorious passion, Pepsi teaming with Michael Jackson. Kool & the Gang performing in Wendy’s parking lot. The relationship was taken to the next level, advertising saw that it didn’t need to recreate the wheel to establish brand credibility, a loyal following could be attained through music and it’s mainstream artists.  Music saw benefit too, artist’s singles skyrocketed up the charts if they were featured in a commercial.  Talk about brand recognition…

There’s no doubt the relationship between advertising and music is a happy one, the question is this: who wears the pants? Does advertising reflect music, or does music reflect advertising?  I don’t think there is a wrong answer.  Present day is a great example.  Working in CHR Top 40, you get a very good view as to how the music industry moves (albeit slightly delayed, it takes time to get your favorite song to the top of the charts, person-who-hears-a-song-on-the-radio-then-says-‘I heard that 6 months ago’).  Noticeably there’s been a shift to a more indie feel in the world of mainstream music, hence the popularity of bands like Fun., Gotye, Grouplove & The Black Keys. This is due to several things, among them resistance to another poppy beat with auto tune, respect for a unique sound and maybe even a catchy hook.  Definitely among them however, is the fact that they recognize it.  Thanks to advertising.  This was stolen from the 80’s (or before): as an artist, a goal is to get your song into a commercial.  Great example: Fun.  They ware relatively off the mainstream map…until the Superbowl when Chevy used ‘We Are Young” in a commercial.  How effective was it? 110 spins a week on a mid-market station in the midwest is a small example.  A promoter here in town was looking to bring them to in.  She contacted their people in late November, they were looking at around the $13k price tag.  After the commercial: the price jumped to $35k.  Recognition is key to mainstream success.

Like any relationship, it’s all about give and take.  Advertising can help music, music helps advertising.  Once again, go back to the 80’s. Pepsi gained a fan base by appealing to a target demographic: the demo that listens to Michael Jackson.  Same thing with American Idol winner Taylor Hicks and Ford in 2005.  Pepsi again in the 90’s this time with Britney Spears. These are all just going off the top of the head references, and that’s the point. Music can give advertising instant credibility, like how Kia was instantly on top with brand recognition when it had it’s hamsters dance to LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’.  Crazy, but memorable.

There have been bumps in the road, like any other relationship.  They still argue about the jingle; whether to reinvent it (State Farm) or to never let it go despite evidence that it should (  They’ve also seen surges, both being able to gauge popularity through social media like YouTube.  From the beginning though, advertising and music have always been about one thing: love.  Take that, divorce rate.


About robo965

Marketing/Events Coordinator for Central States Bev Co in Kansas City. Graduate of Drury University, award winning commercial artist, craft brew enthusiast, viral video director, amateur nutritionist and counting... View all posts by robo965

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