Archives for category: Advertising

I was recently browsing the internet and came across a site highlighting the “Top 100 Adverts of All Time” as voted for by viewers of Channel 4 and Sunday Times Readers (

A quick look through and many were familiar but what struck me was that a large majority (and many of the top ads) featured music. This got me wondering; along with imagery and subliminal messaging, how does music actually function in advertisements? It is obviously a powerful aid as many top brands use well known musicians and artists as well as top film directors to produce their prestigious adverts.

Historically, music has been an important component in advertising. Jingles, background music, popular tunes, and classical arrangements have always been used to convey selling points, set an emotional tone for an advertisement, and to influence listener’s moods.

Many advertising practitioners and experts in the field think that music performs a variety of useful communication functions. These include attracting attention, putting the viewer in a positive mood, making them more receptive to message arguments, and even communicating meanings about advertised products.

One of the main functions of music in adverts is to make them memorable by using a really catchy melody. Early advertising in particular, used music as a sort of mnemonic device with rhyme and repetition enlisted to keep a brand name in mind. But music can also be used to entertain making an advert more appealing and attractive to the viewer. It can have several other important functions: it can emhasise dramatic moments within the advert, create coherence and support an advert’s structure and continuity (David Huron 1989).

Interestingly, music doesn’t particularly need to have a special affinity with the product or service it is being allied with, to play an effective and useful part in it’s success. The best advertising campaigns always communicate a message that is effortlessly remembered though. That tune that gets stuck in your head and will not budge is a testament to the power of music when used as a tool to enhance the spoken word.

Music can help set the mood, inspiring human emotion, thought and act. Even if you watch a foreign film (or even a partially silent movie like “The Artist”) and don’t understand what the actors are saying, through the music chosen, you can usually make out what the sentiment of the scene is.

Music has the power to evoke desirable triggers of brand recognition, for example: trust, reliability, great service, friendliness…all these can be represented by a carefully chosen piece of music that fits the emotion the advertiser wants the viewer to feel about them.
So, music can be extremely powerful when used in advertising even when we are not aware of all the hard work it’s doing. But I guess that’s the whole point isn’t it?

A couple of my favourite adverts which use music effectively are: John Lewis, Never Knowingly Undersold who used “She’s always a woman to me” by Billy Joel and Twinings Tea advert.

Twinings produced both a visually stunning advert and married this with haunting, ethereal music by Charlene Soraia, “Wherever you will go” to promote the brand.

What are your favourites?

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

Oh how times have changed. Over the years advertising has gone through some drastic changes. What once was perfectly acceptable before the 1960’s is now seen as socially or personally demeaning. The proof comes when you search through advertising archives, and find yourself stunned and shocked at what we used to ‘get away with’.

Society has worked hard to achieve equality, with the fight for women’s rights and the plea to banish racism amongst other issues. It is sometimes forgotten just how far we have come until you take a step back in time.

Today, we are generally extremely politically correct, some say perhaps too much so, however society has reached new heights in equality and protection against minority groups or individuals. Something that is strongly referenced through our advertising.

Since 1962, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s self-regulatory organisation, have been responsible for ensuring that no ads are released that may cause offence or misdemeanour. Something that was not apparent before the 1960’s judging by the below examples.

controversial ads


The last one (‘Men are better than women’!) is particularly straight to the point! As you can see, some statements that would not be tolerated in this era, and they’re not the worst of them!

On the other hand there are many examples of recent ads that have been banned by the ASA for being demeaning or unrealistic, and perhaps would be seen by most as quite acceptable. There are a lot of examples to be found on the internet- these are some of my favourites.

  • Phones4U, ‘Upgrades 4 U and U and U’ – 2 ads were recently banned by the ASA for misleading customers into thinking that anyone could upgrade, whereas it was not clear enough that customers on networks such as Three and Tesco Mobile were not eligible to upgrade.
  • Special K – an ad was banned where a woman pours milk over her Special K cereal. The ad claims that the bowl contained 114 calories, but failed to account for the milk. This was deemed as misleading to customers.
  • Snickers, ‘Get some nuts’ – the popular Mr T ad where a truck pulls up to a man exercising in yellow shorts and shouts “Speed walking. I pity you fool. You are a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man….Snickers. Get some nuts” The ad was taken off air after being deemed as homophobic.
  • Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – A billboard ad featured the words ‘Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier’ across an image of 3 young gypsy girls. It was accepted until complaints from the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain (ITMB) made complaints that the ads were racially demeaning and exposed their children to bullying and abuse.
  • Toyota GT86 ad – the ad featured a Grand Theft Auto style film before bursting through glass into ‘the real world’ – the ad was said to be encouraging dangerous driving and was taken off air.

When you see the difference between those that were once allowed and those of current times that are banned, you’ll see that there is quite a difference in tolerance, despite the odd crazy cats pushing the boundaries. Some say that the regulations in current times are far too strong – but based on the above, would we want to ever get back to where we were in the 1960’s? Let us know what you think.

Emma Dobson is a branding expert and Touch Point guru at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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