“Can a mere song change people’s mind? I doubt that it is so. But a song can infiltrate your heart and the heart may change your mind.” Elvis Costello
Music has always a funny way of taking control of our emotions. It’s the soundtrack that accompanies you during your best and worst moments or keeps you motivated whenever you are feeling uninspired. It has such a power over us that it can heighten the engagement of any scene with the right tune, which is why most brand commercials are always accompanied by some sort of soundtrack to draw people in and convey a certain feeling. However, choosing the right melody for an ad isn’t as simple as picking a random song off a playlist and hoping it will fit the mood.
It can be very challenging for marketers to find the right song that will fit the brand image and resonate with audiences, so here are some important questions you should ask yourself before going forward.
Does the Music Engage the Audience?
The right song can strike a powerful chord that will resonate with audiences for years. It has already been proven that music can trigger emotions it can link people to past experiences and memories. Certain commercial jingles can become nostalgic, with some songs even becoming synonymous with certain brands.
Every time I hear Rockwell’s “Somebody's Watching Me" I think more about the googly-eyed packet of money from old Geico ads than I do anything else because of how popular that ad that played repetitively during my childhood. Geico was able to gain my attention through music by using it to make me laugh, it connected with me through an emotional level that will make me consider the brand whenever I’m buying car insurance.
Does it Fit your Narrative?
Adding a good song to your ad will keep people from changing the channel while differentiating your brand from other competitors. However, it’s very easy for marketers to make the wrong choice. While a song might sound right for the ad, the lyrics or tone might not fit the brands narrative.
Pepsi had this problem when they decided to use Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”, a song about having interracial sex with slaves, for their promotional super bowl ad. This goes to show that a lot of thought needs to be put on what song will best fit your image, as the wrong tone or lyrics can steer viewers away from the product regardless of how good the story around it may be.
Does it Give Off the Right Mood?
Music has a way of enhancing a scene in many different ways. Whether the video wants the audience to feel relaxed or uneasy, there is always a track tailored to fit a certain mood. This is because certain melodies have control of certain neurotransmitters in our brains that gives us this feeling of pleasure or fear. It makes sense that songs with a more upbeat tone like Pharrell Williams “Happy” will get overplayed, it increases dopamine levels in our brain and gives us a sense of pleasure that draws people in.
Advertisers look to use songs that specifically heightens the level of dopamine in someone’s brain, however, this shouldn’t be the case for every single ad. If you feel like you need to talk about something more serious or personal, using songs like “Happy” will make your audience feel very disconnected from the message you are trying to give.
If you have ever seen those ASPCA adoption videos for animals that have been neglected or abused, you will notice that they all have the same type of melancholic soundtrack to go with them. Paired with very graphic images, these videos will undoubtedly pull on your heart strings and pursue the viewer to donate.
However, if you played a happier tune over these images it will be perceived the wrong way by your audience. It is important to first figure out what mood you hope to reproduce in peoples mind and choose the song you feel best fits the emotion of your advertisement.
These questions should all be answered before you make a conscious decision on the type of music you want to see in your video ad. While it might seem like a good idea to fill your video with trending songs that could increase your engagement, it will work against you unless it fits the mood and story that follows your ad. Just like with what happened to the Pepsi Ad, the message of your video could be ruined by the wrong song choice despite how creative and informative your ad may be. They say music can speak louder than words, so make sure you learn the language.