The role of music in advertisements

Have you ever wondered if your favourite ads would be different if we re moved or replaced their background music? What if Heineken commercial was not with “Happy Together”? What if Jeep commercial replaces “Don’t hold back” with “Feel this moment – Pitbull”, would you feel different?

I don’t know if you watched these 2 ads before, but if you haven’t, these are worth watching now.

I believe that music in advertising plays a huge part for the ads to be success. The electronic media advertisement is too familiar with us; everyday ads on YouTube, everyday ads on Facebook and twitter, ads on TV and radio, ads on big screens at movie theatres. Electronic media advertisement not only includes images, sounds, music, entertainment but could also rise customers’ emotions at specific moments. Music plays multiple tasks in these public announcements. The better music, the more attractive those ads are. Music is a powerful tool to catch the audiences’ attention, strengthen their memories about the commercial and the products. The two ads (links above) that you just watched, do you think with a faster beat, different music instruments, they could still create that feeling in your heart? Did the lyrical language, the rhythm catch you from the beginning? I almost cry when I watched the commercial “The best job in the world”. How about you?

I still remember that few years ago I watched Pepsi commercial “We will rock you” hundred times just because I love the song and the performance even I am not a big fan of Pepsi. However, after watching it few times, I have a stronger connection with this brand, easier to recall and recognize the brand, certainly. I love the song; I love all the singers so there is a very high chance that I love the brand too!



Clearly those ads should target the company’s target customers. Therefore the music can be altered. Choosing the most appropriate music for ads could be the most difficult decisions for marketers. Music could speak for the meaning of the brand. For example, we all remember the rhythm of 007 movies; we all could recognize and recall the movie in our minds through this song. This rhythm represents the 007’s brand. And of course, music can speak for any story behind the advertisements; any messages need to be sent to customers. Take the “Dumb way to die” campaign from Metro as an example, we cant deny the power of music in this commercial that transforms it into a memorable ad with a song that remains for a long time in people minds. “Dumb way to die. So many dumb ways to die. Dumb way to die. So many dumb way to die…” Did you just sing along the song when you read these sentences? Now you see what I am talking about.

Nowadays, lots of music companies own copyrights for music in the ads, music in movies or even music in music ads. In some cases, the famous songs create the hit of the movie even before its release: Transformer: New Divide – Linkin Park; or commercial created based on popular movies or popular songs such as Coca Cola – Unlock the 007 in you. There is more than one way to use music to move customers’ feelings and compete with other brands.

According to David Huron – “Music in Advertising: An analytic Paradigm”, there are 6 way to defined in which music can contribute to an effective broadcast advertisement:

1/ entertainment

2/ Structure/Continuity

3/ Memorability

4/ Lyrical language

5/ Targeting

6/ Authority establishment

I suggest marketer should consider all these 6 attribute to choose a good music background and increase effectiveness of the ads. However, the order of these could be reflexible based on type of products/services and brands. For example, Insurance ads should memorability and targeting; movie ads should be entertainment and lyrical language; government ads should be authority establishment etc. Creating your own music/lyrical to match with your ads is currently a new trend. Metro was successful with their “Dumb way to die” song and Coca-Cola was successful with Ahh song.  However, it is always difficult to choose the right music for ads to touch customers’ hearts.

In the meantime, let’s watch this bonus video clip. Hope you guys enjoy! Please leave comment below and share your favorite ads with songs!



Source: David H., “Music in Advertising: An analytic paradigm”. Musical Quaterly, Vol. 73, No. 4 (1989) pp. 557-574.


  1. An interesting post, Hanh, but what are the implications for digital marketers here? Remember, your posts need to relate directly to an aspect of digital marketing.



  2. Thank you for your comment JustKyp. I guess I made a conclusion at the end “There are more than one way to use music to touch customers” and “it’s always hard to choose a right one to match with your ads” but I could expand more on this. I admit that I miss the part “implications” and I will add more to this post soon.



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