Who Doesn’t Love Mozart?

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Classical music.

Some despise and refuse to learn more about it. Some like it but don’t know enough to understand it. Some just don’t get it although they’ve tried.

I was scared of it. It always sounded beautiful to my ears, but without the proper training, I couldn’t appreciate it to its fullest potential. My vocal classes bring me closer to classical music and provide me with some basic tools to analyze it. If you’re like me and can’t yet grasp the brilliance of classical music, rest assured that it’s pretty brilliant.

The current situation of classical music encourages the use of it in TV commercials, not only for aesthetic values but also as a means to maintain its influence in media and in society. As the live listening experience plays a big role in appreciation of classical music, concert halls and music festivals have been extending their creative effort to reach the mass audience from very “non-classical” ways:

I am mildly annoyed by the 1st ad because of the lack of variety in their dance moves and because I don’t think the advertiser picked the best classical piece for twerking. However, I cannot deny the influence that the K-Pop group has on a large number of young people, which will help spread awareness of classical music.

Due to the limited access to music in the past, ones who were privileged enough to go to concert halls were usually royal and/or rich. Thus, classical music gives an impression of nobleness and elegance, which is why it is featured in commercials of cars, phones, and other technological innovation ads.

Some of these ads don’t even mention the features of the products, but focus on creating a sleek and innovative atmosphere to suggest a well-off life brought by the use of the products. Moreover, just as classical music takes outstanding cleverness and genius to compose, these products require extreme skills and dexterity to produce. Therefore, putting classical music side by side with technological innovations indicates a matching duo that’s well accepted by the audience

In an attempt to break free from this precedent, Lexus created a backlash when their commercial referred to classical music as old and out-fashioned to contrast to Lexus’ freshness and youth:

Fans were outraged at the ridicule of one of the greatest forms of art, especially when it was Mozart, “who wrote some of the most perfect, refined, classy, timeless, and exciting music ever written.” Lexus then had to revise their commercial as an apology to music lovers and also a proper praise to the glorious classical music.

Classical music also makes great soundtrack for scenes that are larger-than-life, hard to believe, or sometimes even supernatural. Ads with this type of music usually feature gigantic and surreal scenery, spectacular displays, or brilliant man-made creations, like the one in the Japanese phone ad above, or this one:

In case you missed it, that was one very big ad. In this case, classical music playing in the background not only describes a magnificence scene but also creates a comical effect by dramatizing the actions in the videos. Overall, classical music is very serious in nature; therefore, video producers sometimes use it in scenes featuring silly and funny acts to create a dramatic and hilarious contrast.

That were probably the most videos I’ve ever included in a post. Have more examples? Share with me in the comment section below!

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Commuter Playlist

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Who else loves blasting music while driving?

I know I would, once I get my driver’s license…

Anyways, in an effort to promote its 2016 ILX’s 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, Acura came up with a social media campaign in which it collaborated with eight musicians to compose a music playlist that matches the intensity and speed of the eight gears:

The campaign, targeted millennials, was executed across multiple platforms including Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud. The artists themselves also utilized their social media presence to advertise for both their music and the car model.

Another great feature of this campaign was that the music is free and downloadable for you commuters! My favorite are #3, #4, and #6. What about yours?

Does It Fit?

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To continue the conversation started in my previous post, let’s take a look at a more recent article on the influence of music in advertising: The Power of Music. This was written in October 2013 by Les Binet, Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen, and Paul Edwards. Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen teaches Psychology at the University of London, while Les Binet and Paul Edwards work for Adam & Eve DDB UK and Hall & Partners UK, two leading global branding agencies. The article explains how, proven by the authors’ research, music in commercials influences the viewers’ explicit and implicit perception of the brand. Their findings suggest that: 1) TV ads with music work 10-30% more efficiently in gaining attention and improving brand attitude/recall than those without music, and 2) the fit between the music and the brand is critical. We’re going to focus on their second argument.

Speaking of the powerful effect music has on us, Joel Beckerman, Founder and Lead Composer of Man Made Music, gives us very specific and fascinating insights from effective and ineffective sonic branding examples. He mentioned a notorious backfire in 2005 when Royal Caribbean International featured the song Lust for Life by Iggy Pop in its TV commercial. Let’s take a look at the ad:

Yes, it has a catchy melody and exhilarating rhythm that perfectly describe a family cruise trip. But did you hear the lyrics? No need to replay the ad. They didn’t keep all the lyrics anyway, but here’s what the 1977 punk rock hit is about:

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And a flesh machine
He’s gonna do another strip tease

Well, I’m just a modern guy
Of course, I’ve had it in the ear before
‘Cause of a lust for life
‘Cause of a lust for life

The song contains references about drug abuse and prostitution, which are indeed VERY appropriate for a family trip. VERY. Although some may argue that Royal Caribbean left out most of the song’s controversial message, and Arnold Worldwide, the agency creating the ad, explained that they were trying to reach out to more young people, nothing could really save Royal Caribbean from huge backlashes from the audience for being inconsiderate and distorting the idea of a fun, innocent family trip. Similarly, Lust for Life then landed on every list of the worst misused songs in advertising.

Advertising critic Seth Stevenson pointed out in an NPR podcast that the crowd were angry at Royal Caribbean rather than at Iggy Pop. In fact, the musician was probably confused when the cruise company wanted to use his song in their commercial but let them do it anyway just because, well, they paid for it. Royal Caribbean and Arnold Worldwide, however, had a higher responsibility for using the song appropriately and wisely to help promote their brand names. The audience was outraged because the advertiser delivered a message that was contrary to the brand image. This supports the argument we’ve been discussing: no matter how great the song is, the music has to fit the brand in order for the ad to be effective.

Introduction a.k.a. Blog Concept

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I have never met a person who doesn’t like music. No matter what type of music we listen to, it can have an incredible effect on us, sometimes in ways we don’t even expect. It can instantly change our mood (or intensify it) and bring back memories that we have long forgotten. Music is so powerful it would be horrifying to think that people can use it to control others. Well, the truth is: that horrifying scenario is happening every day with advertisers being the villains and us the victims. Yes, I am talking about the commercials that we are watching before and after and in between the shows. Think about it. With the picture effect, we sometimes ignore the soundtrack of the commercials, but it is still there, familiarizing us with the brand, attaching a feel to the product, luring us into thinking “Ohhh this deodorant makes me feel so intellectual, I have to check it out!” Back to the villains – victims scenario, I was just being dramatic. Advertising to me is an art, and obviously, so is music. Therefore, I will dedicate this blog to analyze the impact of music in advertising with a focus on TV commercials.