[Ad Music] Sabin Belușică: Any brand can define itself through music and maybe it would be good if they did so
If you were under the impression that everything you see on TV in terms of ads sounds somewhat similar, rest assured, it’s pop music’s fault for sounding the same for the last 60 years, says Sabin Belușică, Digital Account Manager, Minio Studio. He confessed that he has a love-hate relationship with the advertising industry that he tried to quit a few years ago, along with other unhealthy habits, but wrote the article for us while rolling a cigarette.
“I love music and commercials, I consider both part of our culture (think both local and global), and I can’t imagine life without them. I admit, I have sung ‘Love of my life’ while looking at my glass of Carlsberg and tried to whistle ‘I love you baby’ into the bottle, I say tried because each time I failed terribly much to the irritation or amusement of those in the bar.”
Every brand should look for the right music, Sabin adds, especially now that sources have diversified in an attempt to catch up with what’s trending on radio and social. His grandmother recognizes a whistle out of a thousand, and he’d love to work with Mădălina Pavăl, Via Dacă and ZMEI3 at some point.
I discovered music like any teenager trying to find their identity, but I discovered commercials much earlier than that. When I was a kid, I got sick a lot and my folks were very busy so I spent quite a lot of time with the TV, and during commercial breaks I didn’t leave and change the channel, it was a mini show for me – they weren’t just commercials. Then, when I got older and went to the cinema, I liked to get in early to catch the adverts.
Now I consume much less TV, cinema even less and use ad blockers on my personal devices. Why is this little story relevant? Because I feel like I lose that little joy and connection from year to year. Partly due to major changes, lifestyle (poor time management) and an almost imperceptible decline associated with this wonderful field.
You can still call yourself an advertiser, if you don’t consume advertising, at least occasionally. If you don’t understand what’s in the market at the time and you’re not in the zeitgeist? We end up watching commercials on YouTube, but we only watch the good ones or the ones with box office budgets and we end up in a situation where we don’t understand our reality.
What’s the name of the song in the commercial
The impact of music in commercials is also a subject studied in detail by researchers (don’t ask me why, because I don’t know the answer). David Allan has a very interesting study entitled: Effects of Popular Music in Advertising on Attention and Memory – his results weren’t very conclusive, but he did note that trendy music that is relevant to the consumer on a personal level can lead to higher levels of attention and retention for the brand, a more favorable attitude towards the brand and the ad itself. He concludes that voice (whether original or altered) is a much more powerful stimulus than an instrumental, library music or no music at all.
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a top 20 hit to have a memorable commercial. A great example is the iPod Nano commercial from around 2007 where, following the commercial, “1234” became a hit.
Another example, more of a personal anecdote, would be KAFUNE’s “The Fun Coffee” ad.
After the spot was released, I arrived at the agency that produced it and it was the first time I told someone where I worked and was instantly prompted by: 1. Aaa, Kafune! And 2. What’s the name of the song in the commercial? It took a good few months for this phenomenon to happen, and now I think if you saw the commercial then, you’ll instantly make the association and probably ask me what the song is called because you’ve already forgotten.
I’m also going to talk briefly about the impact of ads and brands in music, here I’m not talking about sponsorships and product placements in music videos, I’m talking about the organic use of a brand in music. A very interesting example comes from hip-hop and spans a very long time: from Das EFX to Kendrick Lamar – it’s the Grey Poupon mustard brand. It all started with a trite ad in 1981 that propelled this brand to status symbol status, a sort of mustard iPhone that rhymes quite well with many other things.
Sounds of the last decade
I can’t say the music is better or worse in recent years, that’s a matter of taste, but I can say it’s used differently. I think music used to be given much more importance and in many cases it was also used as a very powerful storytelling tool or was an integrated part of the creative concept, now it is predominantly used as filler.
I can’t listen to Citizen Cope – Brother Lee without thinking of ClickNet or James Brown – I feel good without thinking of Floriol. In the same way that now, if The Unforgiven comes on my playlist, I feel like crying because it reminds me of daruiesteviata.
It seems to me that we have taken the storytelling part ad litteram and focus our creative attention on VO, explanations, offers or sometimes we make such a simple story into something so complex just because we can or have the CG budget to make a puppy/cat talk. And I used a talking CG lobster – to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: we were so preoccupied with whether or not we could, we didn’t stop to think if we should.
All the commercials sound the same. Or…?
It’s not the commercials’ fault they all sound the same, it’s pop music’s fault they’ve sounded the same for 60 years. We use less and less sounds that sound different form each other in music and so we end up with the impression that music sounds the same. There’s a comedy sketch that illustrates this much better than I can explain.
Libraries vs. the original
Music bookstores serve a very important role – they are affordable and very diverse at a very competitive price. An original score may be more impactful, but it’s going to cost more and take longer, and time and money have become a very rare and precious commodity.
The best example for an impactful original score for this year would be Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death – The Osoianu Sisters for The Last of Us Part 2. Sony forgot how to write a decent story for this game, but PlayStation UK didn’t forget marketing and they listened to what Bean said years ago: “Folklore is oxygen to an asthmatic nation“.
The sound of money
It can range from $0 to $30,000. I’d say ok music has become more accessible in recent years, largely due to the very diverse sources from which it can come. But if you want to find good music for your advertising and brand, then you need a specialist, quite a lot of research and trial and error.
Local artists and advertising
Personally I haven’t worked with local artists for many years, but I hear nothing but good things from fellow artists and clients. I’d like to have more opportunities to work locally in the near future. I would love to get to work with Mădălina Pavăl, Via Dacă and ZMEI3.
Changes at the pace of Covid 19
I think we’ll feel a bigger change next year – marketing budgets are down this year, but next year I think it will be worse. The hard work is just beginning.
Like on Radio or like on Social Media?
It’s hard to say especially since we established early on that all music sounds the same. I’d say music in commercials will always be behind the trend, it’s no longer an industry that innovates (at least in our country) and many marketers prefer to play it safe, so we’ll always be safe and mainstream in most cases and innovation and bold, creative ideas increasingly rare. The same 4 chords, if you saw the sketch above.
Brands that sound good
Every brand is able to define its identity through music. Whether we’re talking Orange style, which over time teaches us the phrase “this song sounds like it’s from an Orange commercial” or I seem to know that whistle from somewhere (my grandma recognizes the brand from the first 3 seconds). You have to understand the brand very well and keep the direction, but I firmly believe that absolutely any brand can define itself through music and maybe it would be good if they did. There are good commercials out there too. Smile, next year will be better…I think…I hope.