Marketers are still deaf to the power of music

I work with probably the most powerful and emotive communications device – music. Everyone loves it, everyone buys it. It reflects our lifestyles, evokes memories and triggers emotions. It has an immediacy and power that words and images cannot compete with.

So it is curious how few advertisers talk to their target market through music. A few, such as Levi’s, the cola sector, some of the airlines, car companies, and others have intermittently shown what a good choice of music can achieve. But there are plenty of opportunities for all types of brands to use music to cut through the media clutter and capture the attention of their target market.

These days most film companies have worked out what music can do to promote a movie. Although it can be an extremely useful storytelling device, the studios also recognise what an extraordinarily powerful communication technique it is.

And it doesn’t stop at the movies. The Ally McBeal TV series soundtrack has made it into the top five of the UK album chart. And it is no coincidence that we can all recognise the tunes to those established “brands”, Coronation Street, Friends, Match Of The Day and even News At Ten.

As executive producer of music for many major sports events, my company has been able to demonstrate the power of music as a communication device for sport too. “Nessun Dorma”, “Barcelona”, “Three Lions”, “Vindaloo” and other songs virtually became branding devices for the events.

The songs for these events are played on radio, their promo videos are shown on TV, and it has now become an event in itself when TV broadcasters reveal their title music for a major sports event. The ultimate proof that the music has reached the target market are the millions of sales these records achieve.

Curiously though, none of the sports goods brands have caught on. Some have incorporated music quite well, but none have made a real impact. This is a pity because it would provide them with a high-profile point of difference in a cluttered environment.

Next year there’s the Rugby World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and the following year, the Olympics and Euro 2000. It will be interesting to see whether any of the sporting goods companies or sponsors wake up in time to capitalise on the increasing association between sport and music.

Of course, there are many brand strategies and objectives for which music may not be the answer. But if a brand is looking for a real point of difference, instant mass market awareness, lifestyle association and a powerful way of touching the emotions of its target market, then has to be worth giving music some serious thought.

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