Apple, Nike, Gap…so many commercials have helped launch musical careers. While most emerging songwriters would kill to be featured in an ad, bigger bands like Sigur Ros can afford to take a higher moral stance and more often than not just say “No”. The band has licensed their music to just a handful of brands, including Sky Sports, Disney, and Oxfam. Jonsi may end up taking a different stance; his solo song “Go Do” has already been used in a Dulux advert:
The cold hard truth is that most ad agencies will still be turned down by Jonsi and Sigur Ros. So what do ad agencies do when they’re rejected by an artist who’s tough to license? More often than you’d think, they commission soundalikes - similar songs that just manage to skirt copyright infringement. Sigur Ros have been victims of this growing trend. A post from their fan blog points out a number of commercials with Sigur Ros soundalikes.
As similar as these might sound to the original song, none of them are close enough for Sigur Rós to pursue legal action:
It would seem that choosing the perfect music for a commercial is such a rare and special occasion that we almost speak in reverent, hushed tones when we discuss its success. But with at least £40million being invested in copyright music for UK commercials it would not be unreasonable to ask why so many tracks fall short of the mark. Music & image partnerships such as Leftfield & Guinness, Phil Collins and Cadbury’s, or John Lewis’ recent track record should give us the foundations to learn.
In the last few years, John Lewis has showed everyone how it’s done to such an extent that this year’s Christmas campaign was met with more anticipation than ever. Focus is on not just the story/visuals but also on the music that will accompany the visuals. The early rumors of a Smiths cover added to the excitement, as clearly we were about to see something different from last year’s Elton John cover. Now in it’s second week of airing, “The Long Wait” has had over 2.5 million hits on Youtube and so continues the series of successful Christmas campaigns by John Lewis.
So how do brands keep us hooked by the music they use? Here are a few tips to choosing the perfect track for your commercial: