Published in May-Jun 2022
As advertising professionals, we are in the business of attracting the attention of our audiences. This means creating content that stops them in their tracks and keeps them hooked while integrating the brand message into the content to meet commercial imperatives. To keep up with evolving choices in content, the creative tools aimed at keeping audiences hooked have evolved. However, one element has remained constant (and more important than ever) – music. Although video reigns supreme, its power is potentially useless if not matched with the right soundtrack, and recognising this fact early on in the game, marketers have used music as a tool to aid top of mind and brand recall.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
When you think of some of the most memorable Pakistani TV commercials, which ones come to mind? Then think about the fact that from Peek Freans’ Pied Piper, Don Carlos (shoes), Kiwi ‘Aik Parinda Hai’, Morven Gold’s ‘Rhythm of Unity’ and Naz Pan Masala to State Life’s ‘Aye Khuda Meray Abbu Salamat Rahen’ and Philip’s ‘Ka Taara Chamak Raha Hai’ (among many others) Pakistani advertising has, ever since the seventies, repeatedly used jingles for brand recall and brand equity. This trend remains popular to this day but what has changed is that whereas jingles used to be the specific genre of music of choice to promote brands, today, mainstream songs and different genres of music are doing the same job.
Original Branded Soundtracks
The objective of integrating music in advertising has evolved from simply singing the praises of a brand (jingles), to integrating music into advertisements in a way that resonates with the target audience’s listening behaviour. Take the plethora of brands that are focusing on attracting Gen Z by using rap to build an association with their products. Pepsi’s ‘Why Not Meri Jaan’ campaign started with a few thematic TVCs, which were then immediately followed by the main campaign soundtrack by Young Stunners. The campaign featured additional original songs to further engage audience engagement. Another example is Telenor’s Rawaan soundtrack Bhit Ja Bhitai, which the brand used to promote their widespread network coverage. Of course, the global advertising scene had already adopted this practice long before and continues with it today, as evidenced by the fact that advertisers are constantly acquiring rights to original songs to integrate them into their brand building strategies. For example, Jain’s Makeba and Levi’s Circles or Pepsi’s We Will Rock You Gladiator ad featuring Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Pink and Enrique Iglesias.
Branded Music Platforms
Brands have also turned to their platforms to create original music and build up associations. Needless to say, Coke Studio tops the list, followed by Pepsi Battle of the Bands, Nescafé Basement, Velo Sound Station, Strepsils Stereo and Kashmir Beats. These platforms may have different execution styles, but they all have a common objective – create music from a branded platform to build equity around music. Platforms such as these enable brands to go a step beyond product offerings and build immersive brand experiences by engaging audiences through quality content. The fact that people remember the songs produced by the platforms provides these brands with enough mileage to build an association while giving audiences more than just a glimpse into the brand universe.
Setting the Mood
Music is also used as a tool to set the mood of a campaign. Whether in the background or a TVC without dialogue, music provides the audience with a context for the story that is being told. This is because music has the potential to trigger emotions, and if done right, can immerse audiences in the world of brands. Hennessy’s The Seven Worlds campaign is a perfect example of how a TVC is complemented by music in every representation of the product’s story. Spotify India’s recent ‘Spotify Sunte Ja’ campaign uses music as a tool to integrate humour in otherwise ordinary circumstances by showing how music can change the mood of any situation.
The genres of music brands chose in their communication speak volumes about how they target their audience segments. The connection between music and marketing is a match made in heaven to ensure success, be they jingles, background scores or branded music productions.
Muhammad Ali Khan is Associate Director Strategy & Creative at Synergy Dentsu. He also teaches in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST-Karachi.