I'd divide ads that use music into three categories. Some dig up an old familiar song from our past, counting on the nostalgia value to make us associate good things with their product. Some pick a catchy modern tune which viewers may or may not have heard before, thinking it'll hit the right notes. And others make up a jingle specifically for their product.
|This Prius ad features a catchy remake of "Let Your Love Flow."
We've been talking about this Toyota Prius ad, where flowers and butterflies reveal themselves to be people, for the sheer coolness of the effect. But we haven't mentioned the music. The commercial is set to a redone version of The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow," performed a capella by Petra Haden. This post on the wonderful site AdTunes, which always helps me identify songs from commercials, notes that you can download the song free from Toyota's site. Whatever you think of the flower people in the ad, Haden has a dynamite voice.
This ad for Dawn dishwashing detergent shows a bunch of cute animals (see our discussion on animals in ads) being washed clean after apparently being caught in an oil spill, and it's set to a jaunty song with fitting lyrics about washing away one's troubles. Again, AdTunes identifies it for me, as Joe Purdy's "Wash Away." You may remember hearing it in an episode of "Lost." (Speaking of which, that show is genius when it comes to using music. It brought the Three Dog Night classic "Shambala" back into my mind, via what I consider to be one of the greatest song-scene combinations ever. Watch it here.)
I already mentioned it in that above-mentioned post about animals in ads, but Ray LaMontagne's sweet song "Trouble" is used to perfect pitch in the Traveler's Insurance ad about a dog desperately seeking to protect his bone.
I have to confess, I laugh every time I see this Heineken commercial where the middle-aged cabbie is belting out Biz Markie's "Just a Friend." The look on the cabbie's face is priceless. Give that man his own show! I actually think this ad is good all the way around. It doesn't hit you over the head with its message, which is a beer company dutifully warning you not to drink and drive. It's not preachy, and it makes getting a cab look like fun, plus it sticks that catchy song right in my brain.
Commercial jingles, little tunes written just for the product, just aren't hot any more, I fear. Remember the good old days? "Have it youuuuur way, at Burger King!" "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner!" (Watch the 1965 version!) "Call Roto-Rooter, that's the name!" And, of course, "Meow meow meow meow!" I'm sorry, but "five...five-dollar...five-dollar FOOT LONG" just can't compete. Not even the extended dance remix.
Discuss your favorite, and least favorite, TV commercial songs and jingles in the comments.