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The Power of Music in Advertising
By: Tom Roarty
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There are so many elements of an ad campaign that can stick in one's head; that is the idea, after all. Coming from the design end of the field, I would like to think that visual stimulation is king. My copywriter colleagues would put up a good argument for their craft as well, but of all of the components, one of the most underrated could be the jingle.
One of the most progressive elements in traditional advertising development has been the evolution of the jingle. What was once a simplistic catchy melody has now grown into a mini soundtrack. One of my favorite commercial scores was created for Heineken. As the broadcast campaign unfolded, the music did as well, all while keeping the integrity of the spots.
I remember an instance when I was humming “Shoe Fly Pie” and one of my coworkers said, “I love that Lexus commercial!” Although I knew the song long before the spot aired, and I am sure they did too, it was interesting that the correlation of the tune was associated with an automotive company rather than the performer Dinah Shore.
Like any advertising element, though, there are pitfalls a campaign can face even on the score level. Case in point: Citibank's chosen score "Into the Wild" sung by L.P., aka Laura Pergolizzi. The song is catchy and yes, it is a huge part of the spot, which is impressive considering the actors in the commercial really were climbing the rocks they were filmed on, but unlike the visual element, the soundtrack tends to linger a bit longer.
All in all, that shouldn’t be bad thing, right? Well, in moderation one would be correct in assuming so, but the commercial has gotten so much repetition lately that people who originally loved the spot are now growing tired of it, specifically the song. It is not that the score is bad, nor is the commercial, but music is different than other creative elements. Graphics burn into a viewer's mind over time, and for them the more reps the better. Music makes a much quicker impact on the brain and too much repetition tends to generate a negative effect.
The Citibank spot has all the elements of a successful spot: a good compact story with a clear message easily identifying the benefits of the product, backed by a catchy tune. However, as agencies continue to develop tight movie-like commercials, they are going to have to become more aware of new challenges when addressing their markets, this time repetition being one of them.

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