Skip to content

Music to my ears…

Music in ads

Who needs a TV ad with a wordy script when you could choose a brilliant song to bring your idea to life?

Music comes in a variety of ‘flavours’ – uplifting, haunting, happy, sad, sentimental etc. That means that no matter what the subject matter of your ad, you can find a song to suit. And when you combine the right track with the right concept, you get magic – as the examples below clearly demonstrate.

BMP’s classic 80’s VW TV ad features a glamorous but teary Paula Hamilton leaving her partner’s house whilst casting off what we assume are the trappings of a now defunct relationship. She posts her diamond ring through the letterbox, dumps her fur coat and rips off her pearl necklace. She’s just about to drop the keys to the VW down the drain before having second thoughts and driving off in it. We are left with the strapline: “If only everything in life were as reliable as a Volkswagen”.

Now on its own, it’s a nice idea. But when you combine it with Alan Price’s song ‘Changes’, you get a special ad. The song was just so perfect: pace; tone; lyrics. The whole thing just works brilliantly.


Another great example is BBH’s recent ad for Kronenbourg 1664. It starts in a French café with the hubbub of general conversation in the background before Lemmy from Motorhead provides us with an ‘unplugged’ version of “The Ace of Spades”. The message they are trying to convey? ‘Slow the Pace’.

In this case the music is pretty much the idea. It’s another inspired choice of song. What else could you add to that?


This ad for the Audi A5 explains how the brand has evolved from a weird-looking bath tub of an automobile, into a thing of beauty. The minute you hear Danny Kaye singing ‘There Once was an Ugly Duckling’, you know how it will end but you just go with it. It’s a great song choice, which draws you into the whole ad. Yes, you could have achieved the same message with words but you’d have needed a lot of them compared to this technique. I also admire them using a song that’s 60 years old.  I’ll bet Danny Kaye has had a lot more hits on YouTube since this ad was released.


My last example is the Maxell tape campaign of several years ago by HHCL. This campaign famously used music to promote Maxell’s product quality. It did this in an amusing way by showing people getting the words to ‘Into the Valley’ by the Skids and ‘The Israelites’ by Desmond Dekker wrong because they had been listening to the words on tapes of inferior quality. These ads were hilarious when I first them, are still great today and, quite rightly, won a hatful of awards.

As Shakespeare said “If music be the food of love, play on…”.


Photo credit

Posted in