Most of us have come across a powerful commercial broadcast online, on TV or on radio that we can’t get out of our heads because of a particular song. For this writer, it has to be an old Castle Lager commercial featuring South African rugby fans enjoying a braai on a rooftop. Toto’s “Africa” set the perfect tone for this ad in my view. The chorus loop evoked a sense of triumph and spirit of a nation united.
It’s no mistake that your brain is recalling the advertisement. Through a range of stimuli, advertising agency creatives are able to evoke particular emotions out of audiences.
Why is there music in commercials?
It’s ultimately an intrinsically-mutual relationship. If a commercial features a popular song that aligns with the messaging for a target audience, brand recognition is enhanced. It is also likely to impact consumers’ ways of thinking.
By setting the tone for the message that the commercial is conveying, music helps to create a story. This could also spark action by actually convincing consumers to buy the product or service.
How is music used in commercials?
It provides a catchiness that is likely to draw the attention of the target audience. Tempo and pitches are important for music in commercials. Instrumental music is typically used as a sound-bed for commercials that feature spoken words. Generic background music is used for commercials with a lot of information, like retail or healthcare brands.
According to David Huron, Professor at the School of Music at Ohio State University:
“Songs can provide a message without the viewers consciously noticing it through the lyrics.”
How it affects the viewer or listener:
When a commercial is highly effective, the music and messaging are fully aligned. The best result is generation of sale. Brand awareness is also a potential benefit. With social media being increasingly used in marketing campaigns, having a commercial that translates well across platforms also helps. An internet user may be browsing a particular site and an advert with the right music could catch their attention and act as a catalyst for action. This is the ultimate pay-off for brands.