Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music in Advertising: Can you hear it?

I was sitting at my computer the other day working on a project when I found myself humming a song. I was trying to figure out what song it was, and then I realized I was humming the jingle, "5 Dollar Footlong" by Subway. I find it amazing that music affects us even when do not realize we are listening. Have you ever had a song pop in your head? Or found yourself singing a popular commercial's jingle? Advertisements use music because it connects with the human mind and heart in a way that only music can. No one can validly say, "Music does not affect me." I don't believe that. I am going to site two examples of how powerful music is.
  1. Music and Memory
As a child I had to memorize certain fundamentals of life. One of those is the ABC's. I imagine anyone who knows English has learned the alphabet through a simple song. The idea of memorizing 26 characters as a child seems overwhelming. However, when you put those 26 letters to music, Boom! Your memory kicks right in. In addition, have you ever had a song come on the radio that you haven't listened to for years and somehow you remember some of the lyrics? What a powerful tool this is for advertising. Companies spend large amounts of money on commercials to promote their product or service. Using music allows us to remember the commercial and company long after the advertisement has passed. The advertisement now exists in our memory. That memory can be recalled, often without even trying, when our brain connects the need for a product or service with the memory that is stored in our brain. In a sense you can say your brain starts doing the advertising.

    2. Music and Emotion

Have you ever tried watching a scary movie without sound? Try it sometime. If you are anything like me, you will find the movie is not as scary. Many of the movies we watch use music to inspire feelings and emotions. For example a sad movie will use music that emphasizes characters' words and actions to provoke feelings of sadness. Adding music to a movie or video increases the ability of the audience to connect on an emotional level. I recently went to a reception of a newlywed couple. They were dancing to their favorite song. The song added atmosphere and greater emotion and feeling to the moment. I looked around and noticed many of the women were saying, "aww." The music reinforced what was being portrayed at the moment, which was love. When we connect with something on an emotional level it develops greater meaning. Think back on an old blanket, shirt, doll or any other object that you were emotionally attached to. Getting rid of those objects is often hard, I know many people who keep them for life because they have a memory with the object that evokes emotion. In advertising emotion is a powerful tool. Commercials often use music to help the audience feel an emotion in regards to the objects or services being marketed.
Here is a quick experiment for you.

Below is a movie trailer:

Directions
  • Before watching the video mute the sound.
  • Now watch the video, or at least some of it. 
  • After watching the video with the sound muted, try watching the clip with sound .
  • See the difference!
video

Next time you see a movie, commercial, or hear
 a radio add, think about the message being sent to you through the music.