Music to watch ads by

The right piece of music with the right ad can be highly effective. Pippa Considine explains which artists are most in demand.

Back in 1971, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" resulted from a detailed, impassioned collaboration between Coca-Cola's resident music director and a group of some of the most successful songwriters of their generation. In 2006, Coke pulled off another coup, recruiting the commercials refusenik Jack White to write an original track, with a similarly lofty theme, entitled Love is the Truth.

Most advertisers would give their eye teeth to find music to fit their budget that inspires a generation of consumers. Some, like Coke, hope to create their own enduring track; others choose an existing piece and some will re-record an existing song.

Many put their faith in the same artist or even the same track. This year, the iMac is just the latest in a long line of brands, including Nokia's Nseries and Nissan's Almera, that have used music by Moby to play against their ads. "The music lends itself to visuals - it is very theatrical," Tracie London-Rowell, the director of film and TV advertising at Universal Music UK, says.

And there is a string of advertisers that have picked Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World - from Levi's to Estee Lauder to Microsoft. "If a track works that well and it's perfect for the visuals, even the fact that it's on another commercial won't put a client or agency off," London-Rowell adds.

Whichever way an advertiser picks, finding music is often complex, with some artists easier to pin down than others. Signing White involved blood, sweat, tears and, undoubtedly, large sums of money. Melanie Johnson, the promotions manager at EMI Music Publishing, who worked on the deal with Mother, says: "It took about a year of negotiations. Persuading White even to consider having his work in an ad, let alone by an enormous brand like Coke, was quite a coup."

Johnson also believes you should not consider any band or solo singer as off the commercials radar entirely. "I would never write anyone off completely," she says. "Things change over an artist's career." As if to prove her point, shortly after slating White for selling out to Coke, Noel Gallagher and Oasis accepted more than £1 million in a deal with the US telecoms giant AT&T to use their track All Around the World in an ad.

But accepting ad deals remains a sore point for many artists. Around the same time as Oasis signed with AT&T, the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand snubbed a deal they claim would have netted them more than £25 million to use their music in an unnamed ad campaign, saying the move would have meant surrendering the band's "identity and integrity". The same sensitivities clearly did not apply to ads for Tennent's lager in Scotland, an MP3 player in Japan or mobile phones in Italy, all of which have used the band's music in the past.

Unsurprisingly, most clients are not prepared to use their best negotiators - or their marketing millions - to try to tempt stars such as Franz Ferdinand or Coldplay to take their money. The vast majority of commercials (some 80 or 90 per cent) settle for music from back catalogues to go with their script, some of the most popular being Rodgers and Hammerstein or old Motown songs. Recently, dance music has taken a back seat to a swathe of folk music, with electronica still popular.

But whether you are heading for the high ground or settling for something less glamorous, there are specialists that will hold an agency's hand from the search for inspiration through to the endless paperwork. Publishers and record labels offer a search service and advise on formalities. And increasingly, agencies are hiring their own in-house talent.

Outfits such as Huge Music, based at WCRS, or TBWA\Stream are there to make matching music to script more effective and efficient. Fiona McBlane, who heads Huge, describes her aim as being "to make creatives far more aware of what's out there and what's available to them, and to make music far more of a priority".

Such outfits should, it is argued, be able to negotiate better deals.

Generally, there are two sets of licensing fees - one for the publisher of a track and one for the record label for the actual recording. For a low-profile artist, this could come in at £30,000 to £40,000 for a pan-European campaign. The figures climb steadily from there: if you want to pin down a track by The Beatles, you are unlikely to get away with less than a seven-figure deal, plus money spent on middlemen and lawyers.

Small wonder many decide against such an expensive and complicated process

Sometimes, however, an association with a particular piece can work better than an agency could have imagined. Clients such as Coke and Levi's know that when music works in an ad, the results can be spectacular.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Levi's entered advertising history with the "launderette" TV ad featuring Nick Kamen and Marvin Gaye's I Heard it Through the Grapevine. Another BBH ad, for Vodafone, worked its way into the consciousness of a generation with the track Bohemian Like You by the Dandy Warhols. "Every time you heard the song, you were reminded of the ad," Richard Kirstein, the managing director of BBH's in-house music division, Leap Music, says.

But the benefits of such an association are rarely one-sided, and the Dandy Warhols also profited from the partnership. After a long period of relative anonymity for the band, the single went into the top five on the back of the ad. With the music industry experiencing falling sales and looking to ads as an alternative revenue source, extra sales can be an added bonus for bands on top of the usage fee.

McBlane points to the more recent example - Heartbeats, by Jose Gonzalez, a folk track that clocked up huge sales around the world after featuring on Fallon's Sony Bravia "balls" work. "The sheer volume of record sales is a good example of a platform for a piece of music," she says.

But does the music ever overpower the message? "You may have greater sales of the track than the product it's advertising," McBlane says. "But with exposure from radio play and TV, people automatically think of the brand."

Cost and risks notwithstanding, many brands are prepared to pay the money to use a particular track. And from Moby to Madonna, there are still plenty of artists who remain happy to take the advertising dollar.



Every single track from Moby's 1999 album Play has appeared in at least one commercial (and some in several) and, in total, his songs have been licensed about 600 times for ads, TV and film, netting Moby some £10 million in the process. And if any more evidence of his liking for all things advertising was necessary, he once organised a competition for amateur filmmakers to produce a 30-second commercial against the US president George Bush for broadcast on US TV.

2006 iMac God Moving Over
the Face of Waters
2005 Nokia N Series In My Heart
2003 Jaguar XJ Signs of Love
2002 Intel Pentium 4 We Are All
Made of Stars
2000 Maxwell House Honey
2000 Nissan Almera Find My Baby
2000 Adidas Memory Gospel
1999 Galaxy The Sky is Broken
1999 Rover 400 God Moving Over
the Face of Waters
1999 Renault Kangoo Run On


Even in previous incarnations, Fatboy Slim (aka Norman Cook, the former bass player from The Housemartins) has always been popular with advertisers: Happiness, a track released under the pseudonym Pizzaman, was once used in an ad for Del Monte. As one of the few UK dance acts to ever really crack the US market, his music has been used by brands on both sides of the Atlantic and although his popularity peaked in the late 90s, a number of car companies, including Ford and Seat, have revisited his music in recent years.

2005 Seat Ibiza Sho Nuff
2005 Suzuki Swift The Rockafeller Skank
2002 Ford Fusion Love Life
2000 Mastercard Card Services Right Here, Right Now
2000 Rover 45 Going Out Of My Head
2000 IF finance Right Here, Right Now
1999 Sky Digital The Rockafeller Skank
1999 Adidas Right Here, Right Now
1999 Adidas Soul Surfing


One of the many A-list celebrities to wear the milk moustache in the ongoing "got milk?" US TV ad campaign, Madonna seems to have got over her early career reservations about allowing herself to be associated with brands. As well as licensing her music for use, she starred in person with Iggy Pop in a recent ad for the Motorola Rokr and also appeared in one of the BMW Films, called Star (directed by her husband, Guy Ritchie) in which she plays a bitchy pop celebrity.

2005 Motorola Rokr Hung Up
2003 Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise Love Profusion
2001 Gap Ray Of Light
2001 Microsoft Windows XP Ray Of Light
2000 Gap Dress You Up
1999 Max Factor Ray Of Light
1999 Peugeot 106 Open Your Heart
1999 Vauxhall Papa Don't Preach


After years of relative obscurity, The Kinks (who released their first single in 1964) enjoyed a period of renewed popularity during the mid-90s, when they were hailed as a major influence on Britpop bands such as Blur and Oasis - prompting members to release their autobiographies and advertisers to revisit many of their famous tracks.

2006 IBM I'm Not Like Everybody Else
2004 Carphone Warehouse Days
2004 HP Picture Book
2003 Fred Perry I'm Not Like Everybody Else
2001 BT (Surf the Net) You Really Got Me
2000 Gap You Really Got Me
2000 Sainsbury's All Day and All of the Night
1999 Golden Wonder You Really Got Me
1999 Pretty Polly All Day and All of the Night
1999 Sony Handicam Days
1999 Weetabix Lola
1997 Barclays Tired of Waiting for You
1996 Yellow Pages Days


Sir Elton John seems to have nothing at all against the advertising industry - in fact, his partner, David Furnish, used to work at Ogilvy. Three years ago, Sir Elton appeared in a TV and poster campaign for Sky promoting both its football coverage and his soon-to-be-released single Are You Ready For Love?, and in February 2005, he starred with Stephen Fry in a series of 3G ads by Mother for Orange. Later that same year, he signed a deal with Cadbury Dairy Milk to create a lifesize chocolate Elton for display at Madame Tussauds.

2003 Sky Are You Ready For Love?
2001 Royal Mail I Want Love
2000 Beechams Flu Plus I'm Still Standing
1999 NSPCC Sorry Seems To Be The
Hardest Word
1999 Microsoft Rocket Man
1999 Magic 105.4 Rocket Man


Although his music has not historically been as popular with advertisers as some artists', Robbie Williams makes it into the top ten on the strength of a number of innovative tie-ups with brands. In 2005, he signed a deal with T-Mobile that saw it launch a special-edition W800i mobile phone featuring an exclusive and previously unreleased track, Don't Stop Talking (the tie-up also saw him appear in an ad for the brand's Web 'n' Walk service).

He has also netted a reported £2 million, which he later donated to charity, for fronting a worldwide campaign for Pepsi. As part of the push, he wrote a new song called United, which was made available to fans in exchange for ring-pulls from Pepsi cans.

2003 Vodafone Sexed Up
2000 Sega Dreamcast She's the One
1999 Sega Dreamcast Let Me Entertain You
1998 Christie's Cancer Appeal Angel


One of the most influential bands in pop history, The Beach Boys have benefited from advertising since they first broke on to the UK music scene in the 60s, when the Rolling Stones took out an ad in the music press urging people to buy The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album. Coincidentally, the album itself was written by the head Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, and a young advertising copywriter called Tony Asher.

2003 Hyundai Getz In My Room
2002 Gap (Chess) Hang Onto Your Ego
2002 Evian Wouldn't It Be Nice
2001 Nationwide (Transformation) Surfin' USA
2000 Tetley I Get Around
2000 American Express Blue Card God Only Knows
1999 Midland Sloop John B
1998 BT Good Vibrations
1998 Babybel Barbara Ann
1998 BT I Get Around


The most commonly cited example of how the use of music in advertising can be of mutual benefit to both brand and artist, Bohemian Like You revived the Dandy Warhols' fortunes by entering the top five after it was used in an ad for Vodafone. The band used the money to buy part of a city block in their hometown of Portland, Oregon, which they converted into film and music studios and which they also used as a place to hold parties.

2004 Barclaycard The Creep Out
2003 Sky One We Used To Be Friends
2002 Nissan Godless
2001 Vodafone Bohemian Like You
2000 Gap Boys Better


As well as licensing their tracks, members of Massive Attack will also produce music specially created for an ad campaign: in 2003, Nellee Hooper created the track for Levi's "swap" ad, which featured models with the heads of mice. Particularly popular with brands in the late 90s, the band recently made its advertising comeback in this year's "gorgeous" commercial for Jaguar.

2006 Jaguar (Gorgeous) Two Rocks And A Cup Of Water
2000 Morgan Stanley Card Services Heat Miser
2000 Emporio Armani Angel
1999 Mazda Protection
1998 RAC Safe From Harm
1997 Adidas Predator Angel

10. AIR

Formed in 1995, the French duo Air's brand of electronica is popular with advertisers for the same reason Moby's music is: it is easy-to-listen-to background music that does not take over from the brand message - something that has led to the band being dismissed as "advertising fodder" by some of their harsher critics.

2004 Orange (Try) Alpha Beta Gaga
2004 Sony Dirty Trip
2004 BT Alone In Kyoto
2004 Nissan Surfing on a Rocket
2003 Clark's Brakes On
2002 Levi's Playground Love

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