Published June 03, 2009 by Mac Chorlton
“Let’s use a punk rock song about sex & drugs to promote your company” was actually a successful pitch someone made to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Most television commercials rely on music to provide a little something extra and to set the tone for what you are seeing. But in almost any video production (whether it’s a traditional corporate image video or the theme song that rolls during the opening credits of your favorite TV show) the music is often intended to affect the mood of the viewer.
That’s why I loved this recent list posted on AdWeek.com about “The Five Worst (and Best) Ad Songs of All Time.” You’d think a song about sex, strippers, and heroin would not be high on the list of songs to use in an ad campaign. But Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines thought it fit their brand just fine as they used the Iggy Pop punk rock classic “Lust for Life” in their national ad campaign. I remember seeing this commercial for the first time and thinking: “Are they seriously using this song? Have they listened to the lyrics? Do they know ‘Lust for Life’ is a reference to Iggy Pop’s lifestyle as a hard-living heroin addict?”
The list shares more absurd song choices for television ads such as Victoria’s Secret deciding that a good way to sell ladies undergarments was to have 68-year-old Bob Dylan creeping around singing to scantily dressed young models. Many choices go into making any kind of video, but it’s amazing how a good music selection can really enhance the viewing experience, and a poor music selection can detract from the message of the video. I guess that’s the message Simon Cowell is always preaching on American Idol when he lambasts singers for “poor song choice.” In fact, all of the judges on American Idol harp on the importance of song choice. They constantly remind the singers that the wrong song choice can eliminate them from the competition (before they even sing) if the song doesn’t fit their vocal style or the image they portray.
Choosing the right music is just one of the many decisions to consider when creating a video concept. If you want people to focus on the message in your video, then decisions like the graphic look, the pace of the video, the choice of your on-camera spokesperson, etc. should all be taken into consideration before you move into the production phase. By the way, for more humorous insights and commentary on the strange uses of music in advertising visit: www.admusicheretic.typepad.com