The Art of Music in Advertising

Way back in 2003, Apple unleashed a series of TV adverts that completely upended everything we thought we knew about music in ads. Simply featuring silhouettes dancing to the likes of ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ by Jet, they had an instant impact that cemented the iPod as a cultural icon.

Music was always a key feature of advertising, but this was one of the first memorable campaigns where music was the star of the show. Since then, we’ve seen music woven into marketing with greater and greater skill, and below is our look at just how far it has come.

What Music Does For Ads

The list of benefits that music can bring for advertising is an extensive one, but at the core of it, music is the simplest and fastest way to get an audience to feel a certain emotion. In the case of the Cadbury gorilla, the chosen track was ethereal and mysterious, adding to the sense of wonder and amazement, whereas something like the older ‘Little Less Conversation’ ad from Nike was a pounding, upbeat song that drove the action on screen.

In many cases, it does not even have to be a well-known song used in the ad to have a big effect on it. There’s a famous case from 2014 where Windows used a song from K-pop group 2NE1 on their global campaign for the Surface Pro 3, long before the genre had really hit it big with Western audiences, making their ad completely unique in the process.

We’re now at the point where any and all marketing has music as an essential component. It ranges from the calm backing songs used for insurance companies to the style and excitement in jack and swing tracks used to hype up casinos. In fact, casinos are one of the latest industries to boost their marketing through ads, and the use of advertising to push casino promotions has really come into its own in recent years. TV ads for casinos have gone from stock retro music to fully-licensed tracks in just a few short years and the effect is dramatic.

The Full Power of Music


There’s probably no other company out there that has mastered the art of music for advertising as well as Marvel has. While technically more on the lines of trailers than proper commercials, they are a masterclass on how to use music to the fullest. This was shown off recently in their powerful TV spot for the franchise ‘Midnight Suns’, which featured an epic backing track of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ for maximum brutality to the whole piece.

Whether it’s for their TV shows or their movies, Marvel has absolutely raised the bar in terms of ad standards. It has even gone beyond other studios promoting other blockbusters and has truly evolved into an art form all to itself with the ads often being just as anticipated as the productions themselves. The best news for both music and film lovers is that it is only set to get better in the future.


Xsnoize Author
Mark Millar is the founder of XS Noize and looks after the daily running of the website as well as conducting interviews for the XS Noize Podcast. Mark's favourite album is Achtung Baby by U2.

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