Thank you for the music

Thursday 5 February 2015 by Lucy Coffey

“Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand.”

Good point, Stevie. But how and why does music unite people and what makes it such a powerful sales tool?

And the beat goes on

I’ve always been keen on music. My late grandma (bless her) called me “the musical one” – something to which I now kind of take offence. Well, given my sister was “the clever one” and my brother, probably, “the gifted one”. But I did take piano and violin lessons; I was one of the Three Kings at my junior school’s Christmas concert (#proudestmoment); I sang in the choir, played in the orchestra and studied GCSE music. So maybe grandma had a point. (Or maybe my siblings are just that musically inept.)

Come on and set the tone

I genuinely believe music can create any atmosphere and lift or subdue any mood. There’s a definite difference between the Monday morning office playlist and the Friday afternoon one.

Many movies would be nothing without the background music that sets the mood of what we’re actually seeing on screen. Take Jaws. The theme tune is pretty infamous and I doubt the film would be anywhere near as intense without it. And what about Rocky, James Bond or The Exorcist? Just a split second of Tubular Bells is enough to put me off watching the latter. Ever. The same goes for weepies. The scene of time passing in Up has become a classic tearjerker, and the endearing music helps to make it so. There’s also Titanic, of course… But movie soundtracks, in general, aren’t as popular these days because we buy music differently. So let’s move on.

Let me entertain you

When it comes to advertising, it’s little wonder that music represents a golden opportunity for brands to make their product or service more memorable, more meaningful and more entertaining. Jingles are a great way to achieve this and we’re far more likely to remember a slogan set to music. “I’m lovin’ it” from McDonald’s is a great example.

But songs also make a massive difference. We’ve all said, “you know that ad… the one with that song you can’t get out of your head?” You might not remember the product the song was helping to advertise straight away, but chances are you'll get there in the end.

Now I don’t want to dwell on the past for too long but in 2007 (yes it really was that long ago), a drum-playing gorilla erupted onto our screens. The song choice was genius. It was intense, it was thrilling, it sent shivers up my spine, it was… Phil Collins. I loved it. I remember talking about it incessantly at the time (evidently, I still am). For me, it was a game-changer that others have since tried to replicate.

Others like mobile network Three. Last year, the mobile provider introduced us to a moonwalking Shetland pony. The result was pretty funny. Then came a young girl, her bike and her singing cat. Again, pretty funny. But what made these ads memorable was the music. Both had brilliant soundtracks – belting out Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere and Starship’s We Built This City – that ensured the products they were plugging would stay lodged in our minds.

Hang on, there seems to be a common theme here. Take an animal, put it in a comedy situation, throw in an iconic 80s track and Bob’s your uncle. Or, maybe it’s just the power of Fleetwood Mac. John Lewis and tea maker Twinings also seem to be fans – the former using a cover of Don’t Stop to bring to life its 2013 “Things Matter” ad for home insurance, and the latter applying a version of Go Your Own Way to its 2012 “Gets You Back to You” campaign.

Recently, a few ads have caught my ear. There’s a lot of noise (good and bad) surrounding Sport England’s Lottery-funded “This Girl Can” campaign. No matter your stance on the messaging, it’s difficult not to have a jiggle to Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On. The M&S Food ad last autumn, “Adventures in Imagination”, was another one that had me tapping away for all the right reasons. And IKEA’s “Wonderful Everyday” ads have featured some brilliant tracks – the latest introduces us to a flock of homeward-bound t-shirts, and the musical crescendo definitely helps to deliver a more dramatic and charming result.

Come together

Music certainly is a powerful tool. It awakens senses, ignites memories, develops moods, builds familiarity and connects people. You might share a song with your partner that has a special meaning – perhaps it’s the one you picked for your first dance at your wedding. Or maybe you did as John Lewis hoped you would and went out and bought its home insurance because you couldn’t stop thinking about tomorrow. (Tell me you’re not singing it right now… I won’t believe you.)

Lucy has left The Frameworks.


  • Advertising
  • Music
  • Cadbury
  • Movies
  • Fleetwood Mac