Music in Advertising

Music in advertising refers to the use of music in mass media commercials in order to boost its effectiveness and influence over an audience.

Advertising aims to convince a target group of people to buy a product or service. Adverts strive to reach as many potential buyers as possible; to help do this they can require a universal instrument for attraction, such as music, which is often referred to as the universal language.

Music boasts a number of specific characteristics that make it a powerful multi-scope tool for advertising. Music appears persistently in electronic media commercials and what distinguishes it from music played at concerts and other entertainment events is the fact that music in ads is simply a means of trade, not a product.

In Music in Advertising: An Analytic Paradigm, David Huron lists six categories in which advertisers can use music in order to achieve commercial goals:

- Entertainment

- Structure/continuity

- Memorability

- Lyrical language

- Targeting

- Authority establishment

1. Entertainment

Music has been used in advertising since the vaudeville, where it served to sweeten a narrative promotion cover.

Making ads entertaining is said to be the best way to make them attractive. An entertaining commercial is more likely to engage an audience. The meaning of entertainment itself is "to engage the attention," rather than to enjoy or give pleasure. This definition is said to prove that entertainment covers a range of concepts and experiences, some of which are unpleasant or scary like horror movies.

An advantage of music in advertising is that all types of it can serve the overall purpose of commercials and it does not have to be related in any particular way to the advertised product.

2. Structure/ continuity

Music has important structural functions in adverts. One of them is to put together and bind a series of images or episodes and speech, providing continuity for commercials. Filmmakers have used music to achieve continuity and cushion the transition from scene to scene and from character to character. In this case, music plays the role of a continuous background, known as "gravy train".

Another structural function of music in advertising is to raise the pressure and suspense or to stress on dramatic moments – an approach also used in movies.

3. Memorability

Music can help advertisers make the audience remember the name of a certain product.

People tend to choose the product they recognise, even if they have only heard its name in a catchy commercial song. Music facilitates the access of information into people's minds and it creates a link, whether conscious or subconscious, between a song or rhythm and a product. Music can grasp people's minds and they start remembering things unintentionally. The impact of music on the human consciousness overpowers the effects of visual stimulation. Sometimes a melody clings to the mind and people cannot get rid of it long after they have heard it.

4. Lyrical language

Lyrics in music allow advertisers to send a message, even if the commercial contains no voice-over.

The effect of vocal music surpasses plain speech because lyrical language is emotional. Advertisers use lyrical language to influence the emotions of the audience and speech to deliver the facts referring to the promotion. Information presented in plain speech could also raise more criticism than sung lyrics.

5. Targeting

Music can also help advertisers attract the attention of a specific target group as some products are intended and designed for particular clients.

For instance, adverts for toys and diapers target children and parents, while aftershave commercials target mainly the male audience. That is why advertisers are interested in broadcasting their commercials in media whose audience matches the target group. Such technique is dubbed "targeting". Once the media has been selected advertisers should figure out a way to capture the attention of the targeted audience. At this step, music styles come in handy as they are traditionally related to various social and demographic groups.

6. Authority establishment

Music in advertising can help increase the credibility of a commercial and establish its authority.

One way to do that is to use statements of experts or authorities. Such credibility, however, can also be established via statements of celebrities and music artists whose style and prominence suggests a certain product can be trusted. Their style is recognisable and it relates to a specific group of the audience.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Attention, Attitude, and Affect in Response to Advertising
Eddie M. Clark; Timothy C. Brock; David W. Stewart.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Effect of Music on Brand Attitudes: Affect- or Belief-Based Change?" and Chap. 11 "Music and Spokesperson Effects on Recall and Cognitive Response to a Radio Advertisement"
Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why
Max Sutherland; Alice K. Sylvester.
Allen & Unwin, 2000 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Music" begins on p. 104
The Discourse of Advertising
Guy Cook.
Routledge, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Pictures, Music, Speech, and Writing"
Harvesting Minds: How TV Commercials Control Kids
Roy F. Fox.
Praeger, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "How Do Commercials Affect Kids' Behavior?"
Sound Tracks: Popular Music, Identity, and Place
John Connell; Chris Gibson.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Marketing Place: Music and Tourism"
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