Branding the Band

Music and advertising has always gone hand in hand. be it a sultry sax solo selling chocolate, or a rock tune going through the gears on a car ad.

Advertisers use music to make their brand speak to those who like to listen, and it is often a vital ingredient of the advert pie. What music is chosen can have a huge bearing on what a brand’s image is.

A classic example of this recently was the brilliant Phil Collins inspired ‘Something In The Air Tonight’ Cadbury’s gorilla advert.

The building beat of the track and ‘Something In The Air Tonight’ lyric gives the chocolate a perception of something to be enjoyed in a climactic fit of orgasmic indulgence – heightened by the inevitable drum fill bashed out by our hero, the gorilla.

Now the same trick was repeated, to less success, by Cadbury’s. This time the same footage was shown with ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ – it just doesn’t work. Why? Because we know it’s a contrived attempt to make the same thing work twice.

What is happening now is a mini revolution of sorts. Bands are beginning to realise that it is not just an advert that their music is appearing on, but a selling point for themselves. Bands are becoming soundtracks to brands. Vodafone used Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ in an advert which catapulted the Australian band into the limelight – the pacey song fitted in with Vodafone’s perception of itself as being fast, on the move and exciting, something that their tie-in with the Mclaren F1 team also promotes.

Bands are relying on ads to get their music across, long after their tracks have fallen off the radio playlists. They are now looking at the real possibility that instead of being known as ‘that band on that advert’ they are ‘that band who wear xyz’.

Do the artists really represent the brands they are now selling?

Avril Lavigne is currently promoting Canon cameras because she is a ‘huge photography fan’, and Ian Macfarlane, VP and GM of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon Canada Inc., “She exemplifies the style and energy that our products offer”.

Canon have got the right person to front their campaign if they are after the teen/tween market, and Avril is clearly positioned to sell her music into that group too. This is a partnership that will benefit both parties.

You could of course go the other way, Johnny Rotten selling butter for example, eh? What? When did punk suddenly go spreadable? The sheer notion that JR buys that brand of butter because it ‘tastes the best’
is difficult to believe. The fact he won’t need to buy any because he’ll have a fridge full of it until his deal expires, is another matter.

Why would a butter company use someone such as JR to front their campaign? Is it to make them appear edgy? It would appear not judging by the various backgrounds in the ad. The advert pokes fun at the upper classes, and Johnny’s loathing for them puts him perfectly placed to mock.

What does that say about the brand? That they are the working man’s butter, or that they take the michael out of their competitors? Only sales figures will tell if the advert has caught the attention of former punks or the working man.


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