CAMPAIGN SCREEN: Music and Sound Design - Production. Top of the pops

Music and advertising are a potentially potent combination. Mix the right track with the right spot and its commercial and cultural impact is significantly greater than the sum of its parts. Emma Hall looks at ten such perfect matches.


Date it ran: 1964

Agency: Collett Dickenson Pearce

Music track and licensee or composer: Air on a G String, Johann

Sebastian Bach

Business considerations were very much in the background when JS Bach's Air on a G String was paired with the first Hamlet campaign.

Two years before, John Ritchie, Collett Dickenson Pearce's account man on the Benson & Hedges business, was helping the creatives to find music for B&H.

Ritchie suggested a record of "jazzed-up Bach" he had bought the previous week, and jumped in a taxi back to his Chelsea pad to fetch it. A track was instantly selected for the ad in progress, while Air on a G String was set aside for Hamlet's forthcoming launch.

Ritchie sought permission to use the music (arranged and performed by Jacques Loussier). Loussier agreed - Air on a G String appeared on more than 100 TV and cinema commercials, and can still be heard on radio ads.


Date it ran: 1993

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Music track and licensee or composer: Venus in Furs, Velvet Underground

One of the boldest uses of music in advertising has to be Velvet Underground's Venus in Furs on Dunlop's "unexpected". Once Pete Goddard (the film's editor) had suggested Venus in Furs, the team knew that nothing else would do.

"I'm a huge fan of Velvet Underground and when I saw the rushes of a guy in a helmet with a zip across his mouth and the mad costumes, I thought of Venus in Furs," he says.

Goddard knew Lou Reed had recently appeared in a US spot for Honda, so he was optimistic. After many meetings and thanks to the support of Reed's wife, Reed was shown the ad. He assumed it had been written around the track, and a deal was struck.

When the rights deal ran out, Venus in Furs was replaced by King Crimson's 20th Century Schizoid Man but the ad floundered and "unexpected" was soon off air.


Date it ran: 1973

Agency: Dorlands

Music track and licensee or composer: Carmina Burana, Carl Orff

Looking for images of "freshness" and "masculinity", the creative team at Dorlands discovered footage of a Cornish surfer.

The crashing waves and macho posturing demanded some dramatic music to go with it. Paul Metzulianik, Dorlands' head of TV, found Carl Orff's 1937 oratorio, Carmina Burana, and instantly knew that it was the perfect match.

However, letters to Orff went unanswered, so a Dorlands team travelled to Switzerland to beg permission to use the "O Fortune" section of the oratorio. "It was like drawing teeth," Tony Bagnull Smith, the account director, recalls.

The effort was rewarded, however, with the creation of a classic commercial.

Orff also benefited from the association - Carmina Burana received worldwide fame when it was used to soundtrack the 1976 film The Omen.


Date it ran: 1999

Agency: Partners BDDH

Music track and licensee or composer: O Lord, Won't You Buy Me a

Mercedes-Benz, Janis Joplin

When the Mercedes business came up for grabs in 1999, Partners BDDH was granted a place on the pitchlist and presented a mood tape accompanied by Janis Joplin crooning O Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz.

"It seems an obvious choice," John Dean, the agency's creative director at the time, says. "It worked and the client bought it right there."

Partners was gambling it would be allowed to use the song which was an anti-materialist rant. "We presented with our fingers crossed behind our backs," Dean admits. However, Janis Joplin's estate was surprisingly easy to deal with. It had a double CD of greatest hits due to be released at the same time as the film and commercial considerations were paramount.

For the next Mercedes push, groups of actors sang the song, but it lacked the same impact without Joplin's vocals.


Date it ran: 1979

Agency: Benton & Bowles

Music track and licensee or composer: Do the Shake 'n' Vac, Don White

At the other end of the musical spectrum, Benton & Bowles' infamous "Do the Shake 'n' Vac and put the freshness back" has long outlived the product it advertised.

Carol Reay, in her first job as an account director, had tried in vain to get a succession of scripts past the client. Eventually, the creatives offered her a script that they had written on day one but thought was dire. "We thought the script had as much chance of success as the product," Reay says. "But the client loved it."

Benton & Bowles' creative director in 1979 was the flamboyant Don White, who was only too happy to help out with the music, which he wrote to fit lyrics by Peter West and Guy Winston.

"The punters loved it as much as the client," Reay says. "The research group remembered the song word-for-word straight away."


Date it ran: 2002

Agency: Leagas Delaney

Music track and licensee or composer: I'm Sticking With You, Velvet


Unusually, in the case of Hyundai's "I'm sticking with you" spot, the music - again by Velvet Underground - came before the script.

Leagas Delaney's creative director, Rob Burley, explains: "The ad had a gestation period of almost a year and, for once, we had time to think.

We sent out a brief to the music search people telling them we wanted something not too mainstream. When we heard I'm Sticking With You, we knew it was the one."

Since the ad went on air, I'm Sticking With You has been featured on a Music to Watch the World Go By compilation CD, and will also be included on the soundtrack of Morvern Callar, this winter's big British movie.

Early next year, a Velvet Underground greatest hits CD is due to be released - just in time for the second burst of the Hyundai campaign.

LEVI'S 501

Date it ran: 1985

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Music track and licensee or composer: I Heard it Through the Grapevine,

Marvin Gaye

John Hegarty knew from the start that he wanted I Heard it Through the Grapevine on the Levi's 501 "launderette" spot. "It was a piece of magic and I knew it was right," he says.

However, he found the budget did not cover publishing and recording copyrights - Levi's could use the song, but not Marvin Gaye's version of it.

Karl Jenkins and Mike Ratledge were brought in to produce a slavish copy of Gaye. Tony Jackson, a backing singer for Paul Young, sang the vocals with some help from PP Arnold, and the track was put through old-fashioned amps.

The rip-off fooled everyone, and Gaye's version went to the top of the charts. "Launderette" was a turning point. Its success persuaded record companies to be more co-operative about licensing music for commercial use.


Date it ran: 2002

Agency: Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest

Music track and licensee or composer: Leftism, Leftfield

Leftism by Leftfield is now familiar as the signature tune for 02 - but it very nearly wasn't. The original choice of music was a track called His Majesty King Raam by Lemon Jelly, which won the confidence of the client in the pitch.

When it came to securing rights for the track, however, the band demanded £500,000 - way over the budget. Even more off-putting was the discovery that the track had been used before on an Alan Titchmarsh gardening programme.

Research also found the track too mournful, so the search for an alternative began.

Rooney Carruthers took in 50 different tracks to the film's edit and halfway through the pile, they found that Leftism had the right tone and pace to fit the spot perfectly. It cost £100,000 to buy out the track, which subsequently made even more money for the band when it appeared on a best-selling mood music compilation CD.


Date it ran: 1987

Agency: BMP DDB

Music track and licensee or composer: Changes, Alan Price

The classic 1987 VW Golf spot "changes" was never intended to have a soundtrack. It was only because the BACC rejected the original script that the creatives were forced to seek a tune.

The copywriter Barry Greensted suggested Alan Price's Changes. He says: "I thought it might work and when we tried it, it was perfect. Everything fitted and it was very emotional."

Price was happy to re-record the track, first written for his friend Zoot Money when his marriage broke up, thus relaunching his career as well as the VW Golf.

Controversy still dogged the spot, however. Price's tune was based on a hymn called Yes We Have a Friend in Jesus, a fact which didn't go unnoticed.

As a result of complaints led by a woman named Olive Pickles, the "changes" ad was not screened on Sundays, to avoid offence.


Date it ran: 2002

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam

Music track and licensee or composer: A Little Less Conversation, Elvis

Presley/Junkie XL

Paul Shearer, a creative director at Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, says it was a "monumental job" securing permission to use Junkie XL's remix of A Little Less Conversation by Elvis Presley for Nike's "secret tournament" spot.

Rohan Young at Scramble was brought in to find the right track for the commercial and suggested an illegal remix of A Little Less Conversation, by a friend of his.

Nike loved it and began negotiations with Elvis' record company, BMG.

BMG offered to do a deal as long as one of its artists, Junkie XL, got the final remix. There was one further glitch when Presley's people objected to the drug connotations of the DJ's tag, so the name was smoothly changed to JXL for the release of the single.

A Little Less Conversation went on to become an instant number-one hit all over the world.

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