Music in Commercials

Our ears are incredible organs: body parts that take frequency waves and send them to your brain to process them into something that actually makes sense! Our ears and brains have an inseparable bond, and even more so with music! Certain songs and tunes remind us of things, or make us feel certain emotions, because when we process music, studies show, we are also using the same parts of our brains that are responsible for emotions and memories. Because of this deep emotional connection, the memories tend to be very strong. In fact, different melodies, chords, or key changes can be linked to various emotional responses. If you have an orchestral string piece in a minor key, with a slow tempo, you tend to feel a little sad, or melancholy. Major keys and more upbeat songs make you feel happier. Now, what does this have to do with commercials? I’m glad you asked! This is exactly what advertisers look for when picking the music to go along with their adverts. They’re looking for the emotions that they want the viewer to feel and what song will give them the desired outcome. 

Now, music itself is a very powerful resource, but it becomes much more effective when paired with an actual story, hence the reason for music in commercials. The music becomes even more memorable when the lyrics, tempo, and overall tone of the song match what’s happening in the advert. One great example of this is Sony’s 2005 “Bouncy Ball” ad. This ad was created to promote the High Definition LCD TVs that Sony had created, by celebrating color itself. The ad consists of thousands of multicolored bouncy balls being thrown down the hills of San Francisco to the tune of “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzalez. The advert is of course visually appealing, but pairing it with such a melodic track as “Heartbeats” made it much more memorable. Another great example of this is the Ikea “Lamp” commercial. In this advert, we see an old broken lamp being taken out and replaced with a much better lamp. Now what this commercial does is that it personifies the lamp. As the lamp is being taken out into the rain, there’s a sad piano playing in the background, making the audience actually feel something for this poor lamp. Of course, at the end, the lamp doesn’t have feelings, so don’t feel bad for it!

Lastly, artists have an influence on commercials as well. Using music from well known artists and well known songs has an impact on the memorability of the advertisements. One effective example of this was Microsoft’s “Start Me Up” advertisement, which featured an incredibly well known Rolling Stones song by the same name. According to a blog post by Nikki Gilliland on, “Microsoft reportedly paid the band millions in order to use their song in the advertisement, realizing that it would add clout and bring further visibility to the campaign.” In other cases, less successful bands or artists can gain fame from associating a song with a major company However, many people argue that bands become “sellouts” after associating themselves with big corporations. Nevertheless, many opportunities can arise from these deals with advert producers. In any case, music has once again shown how powerful it can be, from awakening lost emotions to influencing you to buy some car you’ve never heard of! It can even be argued that the music in commercials is much more crucial than the actual advert itself!


Hey there! My name is Sparsh Aiyar and I'm the editor in chief of The City Voice. I also make videos on our YouTube channel, so please make sure to check that out! I'm a huge music nerd and I play a lot of guitar so if you also like guitar, feel free to reach out. If you have any questions about the City Voice, please feel free to contact me via gmail, I would be more than happy to help!
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