The role of music in successful commercials

Over the years, the extraordinary power of music has also found a way to expand beyond its own universe, finding its way into films and TV series, radio shows and entertainment broadcasts, significantly altering their structure and making a huge impact on people’s perceptions.

In some cases, it is music that gives that unmistakable character to a film, even to individual scenes, which without the soundtrack or a certain audio track would be perceived completely differently. In other cases, music is also used to consolidate the character of certain radio or television broadcasts, by means of tracks that are well suited to the themes dealt with and the general rhythm of the show, thus giving it its definitive tone.

For many years, soundtracks and songs have also been skillfully exploited by advertising, with the aim of catching the public’s attention with a hit song — as is still the case today with some of the world’s biggest brands — or with nice jingles made especially for that particular commercial, ending up almost indelibly imprinted in the consumer’s mind.

The audio effects chosen for advertising campaigns almost always belong to these two broad categories — simple jingles and actual songs — and each of them has extremely different functions and purposes.

Jingles and songs

Jingles, mostly exploited by small or medium-sized brands, are used especially in the early stages of a brand’s existence, for awareness purposes, and aim to be remembered by the general public due to their catchiness. Who among us has not hummed a tune heard in a TV or radio commercial?

The aim, in a way, is precisely to make a natural and positive association between the brand and the song chosen for its promotion, such as to create a positive memory that at the right moment like before purchasing groceries at the supermarket, will manifest itself with great force, decisively orienting people’s purchases.

This musical gimmick has proved so effective that it has attracted the attention of big brands, which have in turn started to create particularly catchy tunes for their promotions. One of the most famous is certainly the one used by McDonald’s (“I’m lovin’ it”), or the tune created a few years ago by Subway for its sales promotions (“Five dollar foot longs”).

Different purposes

Real songs, as well as soundtracks, are instead chosen for a slightly different purpose. In this case, the song selected must be able to adapt to the values and character of the brand, the characteristics of the product, but above all to the personality of the target audience, the recipients of the message, who in the skillful mix of visual and auditory effects will have to find sufficiently valid reasons to buy the product.

Appearing in a commercial represents a valuable opportunity for musicians, especially if they are little-known bands or music groups. Between 2009 and 2010, the French band Phoenix collaborated with the car manufacturer Cadillac on a commercial, and in the following months, their single “1901” — which was chosen as the soundtrack to the commercial — ended up on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Songs, in this sense, are also exploited by advertising to generate an intense emotional involvement on the part of the viewer, thus going beyond the mere catchiness of jingles and delving into much deeper regions of the human soul. Kenny Loggins, Madonna, Bon Jovi, and U2 are among the household names who’ve had their songs used in commercials.

Music has been able to generate such emotional involvement in video games as well, and has been instrumental in transforming the gaming experience of millions of players. Without the contribution of audio tracks, historical video games such as Tropico or Return to Castle Wolfenstein would not have been the same, and in all likelihood would not have achieved truly global success.

The same strategy has also been successfully used by the online gambling industry, in particular by portals such as Arabian Betting, which offer their audiences extremely intense gaming and betting experiences to suit all tastes. The enjoyment of the gaming experience, in most cases, is fuelled precisely by the quality and catchiness of certain sound effects that inevitably recall the world of casinos, thus creating a powerful emotional connection with all players (even those entering the world of online entertainment for the first time).

In all these cases, music thus becomes an extremely useful element in enhancing certain types of experiences, greatly amplifying their intensity and projecting the listener into a dream dimension.

Music is not only the purest form of expression of human talent. In some cases, its power can be harnessed to experience certain emotions even more intensely, giving a completely different tone to our everyday experiences.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: