What Value The Right Song?

February 28, 2014
Greg Cartwright

Now you might be wondering what exactly it is I mean by the aforementioned title “what value the right song”. Moreover, what on earth this can possibly have to do with automotive brands?

However please do bear with me and I’ll endeavour to explain why I believe this to be an important and emerging trend among automotive manufacturers. What it is, I’m of course referring to, is automotive advertising campaigns and the musical tracks manufacturers choose to accompany them.

I suppose the best way to illustrate this, is to first make mention of the very popular Mercedes-Benz advert, which makes excellent use of a cover of the beginning of Janis Joplin’s aptly named “Mercedes-Benz”

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmMP-nOvmZc[/youtube]


Now, if you are not a music fan, you could well be forgiven for believing that this particular piece of music was written specifically for Mercedes! It is, of course, a very cleverly done cover; however those who follow music will obviously find it instantly recognisable as a Janis Joplin hit.

The reason I mention this, is because this is a relatively new and unsung area of business called ‘synch’. Synch in the simplest of terms, is the business of pairing the most suitable pieces of music to new advertising content.

I attended a seminar on Monday evening this week, which focussed specifically on this new area of business. I was extremely intrigued to hear large advertising companies detailing that they now send all pieces of music that they intend to synch with an advert, to specially organised ‘research groups’ .

These are made up of a consumer sample, likened to that which a particular brand is trying to target. This is to specifically test if the chosen pieces of music illicit the right emotive response from said brand’s intended audience.

It was something of an eye-opener to me to discover the lengths and levels of serious market research advertising agencies are now committing themselves to, in order to associate exactly the right kind of music to their latest advertising campaigns.

So it got me thinking on how many automotive campaigns are now subject to this exacting process, in order to guarantee they tie exactly the right emotional message to specific manufacturer’s adverts?

Just how important is the music / association to what the manufacturers are selling?

The latest Lexus advert uses clever messaging to illustrate the beauty and poise of the car, the official line is “A stronger body for greater control.”

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlYVhDKCbqY[/youtube]


Lexus use a ballerina to great effect; effortlessly communicating grace, balance and beauty of movement. However, this whole performance is underpinned by a gritty urban track. Which, for my money, is a not too subtle message to those watching. It communicates that although this car is a beautiful thing to drive; owning one will still give you a tougher urban edge when you get behind the wheel.

I’d suggest a clear play for a younger audience who better associate themselves with those feelings their chosen music evokes

Chrysler recently went for an American counterculture musical icon in Bob Dylan to front their latest Super Bowl advert, which is about as patriotic as it can possibly get.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlSn8Isv-3M[/youtube]


This advert from start to finish celebrates America and an American ethos, of course presided over and introduced by one of America’s musical legends. By the time you finish watching this, the associations alone may well win over even those not of American nationality, lining up to sing star spangled banner!

It’s a brilliant example of how powerful the right piece of musical association really is.

There are of course examples of adverts that have not perhaps quite managed to get the musical association entirely right.

The latest Toyota Corolla advert suffers from this a little.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwSNRlNUNEI[/youtube]


The main problem for me is that, it tries to cram too many different styles of music into a very short space of time, which ultimately left me feeling a little confused as to exactly which emotional response it garnered from me

I can only speak for myself when I say this, but it didn’t make me feel as though it was something I could associate with, or for that matter want to be a part of.

My favourite, and I feel, best example of the power of matching the right music to an advert, has to be the recent Fiat 500 Spring/Summer Collection 2014 advert.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK2XV8UDHjE#t=12[/youtube]


The 500 has been a hugely successful model to date for Fiat, so to hear they have synched the advert with Pharrell Williams #1 smash hit of the moment “Happy”, demonstrates to me a brand that utterly understands what buyers of this model are looking for and most importantly what it wants to communicate to them.

This leads me back to the opening question that I posed in “what value the right song?”

[quote align=”left” color=”#999999″]Associating the right piece of music to your automotive advert will yield phenomenal value[/quote] It seems to me; associating the right piece of music to your automotive advert will yield phenomenal value in share of voice in market, whilst producing the desired aspirational effect for your brand.

In a way few other things in this world are capable of, music has the power and the ability to instantly tap into an audience’s emotions.

The very best of these arts whichever form they may take, are born of experiences that essentially you and I and the masses as the audience can associate, identify and share in. Hence the reason they become so popular to begin with.

Therefore, the value of manufacturers associating their campaigns with the right piece of music is of paramount important to get right. As they are, attempting to directly align our good and aspirational emotions to their respective brands to ultimately deliver sales.

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]Whist cars might lack personalities of their own; the right synch certainly can give them a soul[/quote] It has become abundantly clear that manufacturers know only too well what value the right song has, and the associated benefits of the correct choice.

It therefore should come as little surprise to learn that the advertising companies of this world are investing significant amounts of time and good money in specially selected research panels, to accurately choose the right piece of music for a campaign before it goes to market.

At the end of the day, whist cars might lack personalities of their own; the right synch certainly can give them a soul.

And do we not all want our purchases to be as closely aligned to our personalities and sense of individual values as is humanly possible?


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