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Dear Advertisers, Let's Talk About Your Taste in Music

Headphones with A Willing Participant logo.

Working in advertising, for better or worse, you see a lot of, well, TV advertising.

Granted, while I am in my studio, a lot of what I see is on during the day, so I understand that some of the brands buying commercials in those slots aren't necessarily sexy or have a lot of money.

But come on! The music in these spots? Awful.

And the mix? Sometimes just as bad. Think about the last movie you saw. You may or may not have noticed, but music sets the tone, builds the drama and ups the emotion. We all know that.

If music and sound cues can play even a small role in generating response in your TV spots, why not use it to your advantage?

It seems obvious, and it's not terribly difficult to do. Even on a budget, I dare say.

Music is one of the most important and often poorly used elements in TV advertising. Why is that? To many marketers, it just doesn't matter.

Or maybe they don't realize that the right music, done by pros, can help cue viewers to laugh... to cry... and most importantly, to act.


Generic jingles and stock "needle drop" music fail in TV spots because they:

  • Lack distinction because it sounds like everything else

  • Do nothing to move viewers emotionally

  • Add little to the underlying appeal of a brand


When it comes to choosing music, it pays to up your game.

"Okay," you say, "But I don't have the time/money/patience to do this right. And I am no music genius."

That's where you're dead wrong. If spending more time getting this important part right can get more people to buy your product, love your brand, visit your site, it's absolutely worth the investment of your time—and shocker—your budget.

But how do you get exactly what you need?

We say this a lot over here, but you have to know your brand. What does it represent? And how does it make your customers feel?

More simply, what does your brand sound like? Is it confident? Use music that conveys that emotion. Does it make consumers laugh? Go with something upbeat. Introspective? Maybe a simple piano track. I think you see where I'm going.

Honestly, if you know your brand, this should be pretty easy. Much as I hate to say it, you'll know it when you hear it.

Don't believe me? Here's a quick test: watch your latest spot with the sound off. In your head, as you're watching, you're likely already adding a soundtrack to what you're seeing.

Now go out and find something like that. Another thing you can do is to listen to music tracks separate from your video. If they make you say, "Yeah, that sounds like my brand..." you're well on your way to being the expert you need.

And when in doubt, hire a pro. The added investment can go a long way to making a connection with your audience. It's what we do here at A Willing Participant, Inc., and it's how we keep getting recognition for the top-notch work we do.

It's not about the video. It's not about the music. It's all about how those two key elements work together—in harmony, pun intended—to deliver results and action.

Without it? Your spot is just another in a long mess of really cheesy pretenders. You're better than that.


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