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Music is all around us. It is a constant in our lives. Although the music that we hear changes over time it is always there. What is “in” today may be “out” tomorrow. We hear it in the car in the way to work, and once we get there it is playing in the background in the office. It is at the stores where we shop, in the elevators we ride, during the commercial breaks of our favorite television programs, at the gym where we exercise, and many more places we go. With the astronomical amount of music that surrounds us in our everyday lives is no wonder that companies use it as a median to advertise their services and products to us. “Advertising is the means by which on party attempts to convince or entice another into purchasing a particular product or service. It differs from the sort of one-on-one sales pitch an individual might encounter at the point of sale in that it addresses a larger, more general audience (Huron).” Advertising is instrumental to the success of businesses. If no one knows that the business exists or they have no idea what products or services are offered, how will they get customers? The key to business is to advertise, to make sure that a company’s products or services are known to the world. People love music. Combining the two is sheer genius.
Music can accomplish many things when integrated with advertisements. In advertising it is used to entertain, as a mnemonic device to trigger memory, and to target a specific demographic. When music is used in advertising for entertainment purposes it makes the advertisement more appealing to its targeted audience. A good advertisement gets and holds the attention of the audience. It is simply used for aesthetic purposes. Creating an attractive advertisement allows it to appeal more to an audience thus engaging the audience’s attention. Music is also used in advertising as a technique to aid in memory. Early advertising embraced this technique. Rhyme and repetition were used to keep a brand or name of a product in mind.
There are several reasons that consumers purchase certain goods or services. According to an article in The Economic Times one of the major factors in consumer purchasing is the fact that the human brain releases the chemical dopamine in response to the product. Usually sound or fragrance are the stimuli that cause this effect. The reason this happens is that the human mind is complex and ‘”Because consciously or not, we calculate purchases based on how they might bring us social status-and status is linked with reproductive success (Dobhal).”‘
There are several different options for advertisers to choose from to promote their product or service. There is print, radio, and television to name a few. The following is a brief history of advertisements from print to television: Early print advertisements appeared in the newspaper and as posters with pictures and text in popular locations. This form of advertisement is still in use today and is also successful and is found everywhere from newspapers, magazines, to popular trade journals. Billboards are another form of print advertising, they a rather large signs that are located in a conspicuous location that people will notice (Phillips). Radio advertising is one of the earliest forms of advertisement is mass media. The first speech transmission by radio was in 1915 from New York to San Francisco, five years after this historic day, the first radio program aired. A revolution had begun. With thousands of Americans tuning in to hear the radio programs, this is where advertisers hit the jackpot. Television advertisements soon followed. Since the television has such a broad reach, from the beginning it became an attractive medium for advertisers. U.S. advertising rates are determined by Nielsen ratings which are audience measurement systems that were developed by the Nielsen Research Company. The time of day and popularity of the channel are factored in to determine the advertising rates. The television become commercially available in the 1930’s but did not gain popularity until the 1950’s. Today 99 percent of households in the United States have at least one TV and 66 percent have three or more. The average American watches one thousand five hundred hours of TV per year (Television and Health).
In the early 1980’s the interest in using music to advertise dramatically increased. Following a study dubbed the “attitude towards the ad” which showed that consumers responded negatively towards the manipulative and pressured approach that advertisers were using. The study concluded that consumers were left with a more positive feeling towards the product music was introduced into the advertisements. The study also proved that when pairing popular music with the product consumers would associate the two and if they like the music they would like the product. (Chingning Wang)This approach has been criticized however it the lyrics are catchy and remain in your head the advertiser has effectively accomplished their task. Advertisers originally wrote their own catchy tunes to market a product. These are known as jingles. There are many jingles for products that you may still remember to this day although you haven’t heard them in years. One such jingle is for Oscar Mayer, and goes like this “My bologna has a first name. It’s O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name. It’s Mayer. Oh, I love to eat it every day and if you ask me why I’ll say… ’cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.” That is one jingle that most likely has been heard by nearly all Americans. Prior to the 1980’s these are the kinds of music that one would here in a commercial occasionally the lyrics of a popular song would be changed to create a theme song for a particular product or service.
On one occasion a theme song that was written for coca-cola called “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was re-recorded by the New Seekers as a pop song called “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (The “Hilltop” Ad: The Story of a Commercial).” This song became a hit. The use of previously recorded pop songs was eventually integrated into commercials. In 1985 Burger King used an original song by Aretha Franklin called “Freeway of Love” in an advertisement to promote the fast food restaurant (TV Commercials in the United States). In 1987 Nike adopted the “Revolution” by The Beatles to advertise their shoes and other athletic gear as well as using as an effort to overhaul their advertising and marketing campaigns to compete with the number one shoe brand at the time which was Reebok (The Pop History Dig).
An interesting but unproven theory is subliminal messages. A subliminal message is a hidden message within a commercial, music, or even a movie. These messages are meant to be unnoticed by the listener yet they are meant to provoke the listener to respond in some way. According to an article by Robert Fink in the Journal of Ancient of Ancient Music advertisers have claimed that they can make anyone buy anything by including subliminal messages within their advertisements (Fink). In 1957 James Vicary, a market researcher stirred up trouble with consumers when he announced that by embedding subliminal messages in the music of radio advertisements he could persuade consumers to purchase anything. The public feared that this was true and thought that they were being hypnotized with advertisements (Crossen).
One company that probably comes to mind when you think of music and advertising is the popular soft drink Pepsi. The company, PepsiCo has a history of mixing popular music into their advertisements. Some of the many artists Pepsi featured in their advertisements include Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Akon, Bob Dylan, and many more. PepsiCo is a very successful company.
Consumers are bombarded with music and advertisements throughout their typical day. Advertising is a powerful and effective tool, it is meant to inform the listener of the product or service, and then persuade them to purchase it. It is obvious to point out that the better an advertisement is the more effective it will be at persuading the customer to purchase the product. Advertisers employ many techniques some of which are peer pressure and manipulation. Advertisers target an audience and use these techniques to try to convince the listener that they will be part of the “in” crowd if they purchase the product. This is a highly effective form of advertisement. Advertisers target a specific demographic such as 18-24 year olds. To use music effectively in this demographic they would obviously use music that most 18-24 years olds would listen to and not something like classic rock although some people in that demographic may enjoy classic rock they are trying to reach the majority.
Think about this, can you remember a particular jingle or song and automatically associate it with a product. I am sure that most everyone can. Researchers have shown that the most effective commercials advertisements are the ones that stir up emotion and create an association with the product (Vaughn).
Since people are bombarded with so many advertisements every day advertisers are increasingly using unconventional techniques. One such technique involves the use of incongruent advertisements. This is where advertisers mix things up a little. They use music and other art that would normally be unexpected. This works because of something called brand schema which is when a person becomes so familiar with a product from advertisements it becomes almost invisible to them, they don’t really pay much attention to it. Advertisers now are trying to mix it up and once again regain their attention to the product that they are selling. This research was conducted to determine the impact of audiovisual congruency in ads and the moderating role of product involvement on three aspects of consumer response: attention to the ad, attention to the brand, and purchase intentions. The participants were shown one of eight TV ads for 30 seconds, afterward they were asked to rate the ads on several dimensions. The results indicated that congruent product and music type invoked favorable responses from the consumers. (Lalwani).
What is it about music that makes it so important in advertisements? First and foremost, it is so much easier to remember a song or jingle than spoken words. Second, it is entertaining. Whether the listener really cares about the product or not they may create a mental association with the song and the product. Imagine this scenario, two friends are talking and one says that they are in need of a cleaning service for their home but are new to the area and have no idea who to choose. The other friend says “I just heard an advertisement on the radio for a cleaning service, I don’t know their name but they have that catchy song in the advertisement.” The friend in search of the service replies with “Oh yeah, I heard that too. I’ll give them a call.” The advertiser has created a successful advertisement and the music or song that they chose was to thank. This is a scenario that occurs quite frequently and advertisers count on this.
As you have seen, music is everywhere it is no wonder that advertisers tapped into the music source. Music is a beneficial and constructive addition to our society. It has many purposes and definitely holds its own in advertising. The business of advertising has clearly come a long way in the United States, from only having print advertisements available to the creative and catchy television and radio advertisements. Just think, if you had to watch a commercial without music, you would just be listening to someone talk. There wouldn’t be catchy lyrics to aid in your memorization of the product nor would it even be interesting. Advertisers hit big when they integrated music and advertisements. Next time you are watching television or listening to the radio pay attention to how many of the advertisements contain some form of music, whether it’s a pop song, a creative jingle, or just a little background music.
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