Feature

Music: Hits and Misses

We ask a panel of experts to select some of the best and worst uses of music in branding.

MARK GOODIER, radio broadcaster and managing director of Wise Buddah Jingles & Music Imaging

The company produces jingles and sonic imaging for clients around the world.

MISS - Nokia sonic branding

Every day in our business, our clients ask us to create memorable sonic logos for their brands. A bunch of notes composed and arranged to fit the brand aspirations. Get it right and consumers' relationship with our client's brand is more memorable. Getting it wrong isn't really an option. Which is why it confuses me that Nokia, once one of the world's biggest tech companies, sticks with the hideous Grande Vals, which started life as a piece for solo guitar by the Spanish classical guitarist Francisco Tarrega. For Nokia, it began life as a ringtone (that should have been a clue!) in the days when phones were monophonic - and ringtones sounded like the noises that your Atari games used to make. What's amazing is that Nokia thought it good enough to keep. Now cut in half and updated, it's a really annoying start-up tone on its phones, which, mercifully, you can disable. It should have taken the hint when Dom Joly's use of Grande Vals had such comedic effect. Nokia needs a new sonic logo that sounds like the future, not the past, and which doesn't remind us of a ringtone we would rather forget.

HIT - Intel sonic branding

Intel, however, has managed its sonic logo as well as it has managed its brand. The tune, composed by Walter Werzowa in 1994, is very catchy but not at all annoying. The use of the marimba as an instrument enhances its timeless quality while retaining a sense of high-tech. The new arrangements of the sonic logo have been witty and fresh, keeping it feeling current, getting on for two decades later. Also, we shouldn't forget, Intel's brilliant brand management is not for a computer, but a computer part. It has succeeded in marketing to consumers, as well as manufacturers, the perceived value of purchasing a computer with Intel inside. I think the sonic logo has played a big part in that. But then I would say that ...

STEVE SPIRO, creative director of the music production company Felt Music

As a music producer in the 80s, he produced the Pet Shop Boys, Kim Wilde, MC Hammer and more.

HIT - Ikea, 'You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties'

I was working at Stiff Records in its heyday when it released the Jona Lewie original in 1980 and I can tell you that he didn't take himself too seriously. There was a dry humour to his delivery of this song which made it so appealing, and which also lends itself perfectly to this Ikea script.

The ad has a Madness-style chaotic swagger to it, which I love. Lyrically perfect, if you're advertising a kitchen, this is a re-record that could be faithful to the original song and still work perfectly in its new context. Music influenced by 80s synth-pop continues to be popular, so this kind of thing is very in vogue ... and it's always great to bring an unfairly forgotten hit back into the public consciousness.

MISS - Walkers Extra Crunchy, 'Save One, For Me'

Great campaign, legendary director, fun idea and a coup to get Lionel Richie to appear in the ad himself, but somehow it just doesn't work. The original Say You, Say Me has made us cringe at weddings since 1985, so to recreate it in an even more cringeworthy way is quite an achievement. Maybe it's the ham-fisted lyrical changes, or Lionel's own delivery, but I couldn't help gawping in disbelief the first time I saw it. The joke's not lost on me - I realise I'm supposed to cringe. So, in that sense, it worked. I'm sure it will have the desired effect and attract a lot of attention, but a big thumbs down from my corner, I'm afraid.

RUTH SIMMONS, chief executive of the music consultancy soundlounge

She has spent the past 30 years working with brands and their agencies on the use of music in their marketing.

HIT - Marks & Spencer, 'autumn style campaign'

Some brands feel a need to hijack other brands' formula and end up looking like they are advertising their competitors' product (the Apple-sounding Kindle spot comes to mind). Marks & Spencer is not one such brand. It has a firm hold of its identity, both in image and sound, and this autumn is no different. Models strut to the beat of Cheryl Lynn's disco classic Got To Be Real, a song used in the latest Sex And The City film, which fits well with the M&S demographic. The power of this ad is apparent in the fact that Got To Be Real has re-entered the iTunes top 200 download chart.

MISS - Next, 'autumn/winter'

Next also filmed glamorous models for its current commercial, set to The Specials' A Message To You Rudy. Although a great track, it fails to tie the commercial together convincingly. The track starts as an accompaniment to the visuals, but later there's a shot of a DJ spinning the disc at a party. Was it chosen after the film was shot, requiring the brilliance of the editor to make it work? The models are for the most part not moving in time to the music and when they are, it seems more like a lucky accident. When music is an early part of the creative process, it's self-evident: just look at brands such as Honda. The use of music feels more like a disjointed afterthought in this Next ad.

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