FreeCreditReport.com is running at least six commercials featuring a down-on-their-luck rock band singing in various settings bemoaning the fact that their credit is bad. The actors are obviously musically talented, the drummer actually knows how to play drums, you can tell by looking at him. I found out that the singer is a French-Canadian actor/musician named Eric Violette, (it’s not actually his voice we hear though, he’s lip-syncing).
I think these are very strong ads. They feature the time-tested, but somehow out-of-favor Commercial Jingle. A jingle is a song written expressly for a commercial. The music and words of a jingle are directly targeted to sell the product. When I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, jingles were the way most products were marketed on television. Most people of my generation can still recite or hum the jingles from that time.
Jingles gradually lost favor with advertisers and were replaced by what we all now hear every day on TV – the licensed pop song put in service of a product. I’ve written before about why I don’t like this method of advertising. I call it “lifestyle” advertising, where the marketer tries to create an ad that will connect with to the viewer’s sense of identity, therefore, connecting to the product too. Using a pop song is the fastest/easiest way to do this. If you can connect your brand with a song by Wilco, for instance, that’s a valuable cultural connection to make for your product. Your product can now live in the same cultural space that the songs of Wilco inhabit appealing to fans of that music and others that want a sense of the contemporary.
In actuality, I do not think this type of ad is very effective because when the spot gets placed into the ad mix that viewers see on a typical TV day, the lifestyle that the ad is portraying gets merged with all the other lifestyles from all the other lifestyle ads and the spots’ message gets merged as well into this jumble of lifestyle imagery and pop hits. The products, however, don’t get defined and their identities and marketing messages get muddled. Â Viewers recognize the pop tunes but the connections to the products are lost. Even with repetition, I believe these ads are a weak way to sell the product.
Jingles, on the other hand, are written directly for the product. A good jingle campaign, like the FreeCreditCard.com ads, will brand the company name right into the song. A successful ad will, over time, have viewers singing along with the jingle, either subconsciously or even overtly.
I was at a cocktail party last New Year’s and I was talking to a young advertising executive and I asked him why jingles lost favor. His response was interesting. He said that more often than not, it is the client, not the ad agency, that is pushing for the high-priced licensed pop song. He explained it as the client getting bragging rights for the company. They are able to boast to the industry and their competition that they have gone out and licensed a multi-million dollar hit song for their latest campaign. To me, this is to lose sight of the goal of the campaign, which is to sell, no?
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