Top 10 Best Songs in Advertising

Ever since 1926, when the Wheaties quartet sang the cereal’s praises, music has been an integral part of advertising. But in the ensuing near-century, the way companies use music has been modernized. Rather than create their own jingle, many brands now find a third-party tune that’s so catchy—and matches their product so perfectly—that consumers will forever associate the track to the brand.

Here are 10 songs in advertising that top the rest:

1. United Airlines, “Rhapsody in Blue”

This ad is from a four-part United Airlines series called “Fly the Friendly Skies.” If you ever complain that there’s not enough room on your flight, you should think about booking United—all of those instruments actually fit on one of their aircrafts. Plus, since “Rhapsody in Blue” is such a classic, people are likely to remember the sight of a full orchestra on an airplane again.

2. Play 60, “The Power Is On”

It can be risky for a company to use an obscure song in their commercial. If the tune isn’t already familiar, consumers might be more likely to forget the ad. But “The Power Is On” by the Go! Team, is catchy enough that people are compelled to look up the tune. I’d never heard this song before I saw the commercial—now it’s officially on my workout playlist. And every time I hear the beat, a part of me thinks about the NFL. Advertising mission accomplished.

3. Amazon Kindle, “Fly Me Away”

“Fly Me Away” by Little & Ashley is the kind of song that you put on repeat while snuggling with a book by the fireplace. What’s that, Kindle is the new book? Ah, the magic of advertising.

4. Volkswagen, “The Clapping Song”

Advertisers get major bonus points if they can start a new trend with their commercial. I think everyone should have to clap out this song—aptly named “The Clapping Song”— instead of doing the traditional “punch buggy.” My arms have enough bruises from overeager children, thank you very much.

5. Sony, “Heartbeats”

Before seeing this video, I didn’t realize that I needed to know what thousands of bouncy balls looked like rolling down a hill in slow motion. Trust me when I say that you need this knowledge in your life. Set the beautiful sight to the sweet sounds of “Heartbeats” by José Gonzalez, and you’ve got an unforgettable ad. Hell, you might even watch it again.

6. Apple iPod, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”

The unique visuals alone are enough to set this ad apart. But with some cool dancing silhouettes in the mix, you’ve got a perfect song–brand pairing. After this ad was released, the Apple iPod forever became synonymous with “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” In fact, the band Jet became so popular after this ad that Mashable labeled the art of bringing an obscure artist into the limelight the “Apple Effect.”

7. Southern Comfort, “Hit or Miss”

I adore this ad because it makes viewers palpably uncomfortable. No one wants to watch an overweight man in a speedo strut down the beach for two minutes—but they do it anyway. Over 2 million times.

This ad would be positively creepy without music. Seriously, watch it again on mute. It’s the happy-go-lucky song that makes this commercial such a hit.

8. John Lewis, “Your Song”

The song in John Lewis’ Christmas is so sad and sentimental that viewers are going to need tissues the moment they hear the first notes. Come on, look at all these people clumsily wrapping gifts for their loved ones! Listen to the sad song! It’s just too much!

Really, though, it’s just enough. “Your Song,” by Ellie Goulding, brought the singer so much attention that she was invited to perform at Prince William’s wedding reception the following year.

9. Vodafone, “Bohemian Like You”

While commercial shows a bunch of people doing things that are totally not related to a phone service, the trendy song, “Bohemian Like You” by the Dandy Warhols, makes you completely forgive that fact. Feel tempted to buy that song? You’re not alone. Like so many other once-obscure bands, this commercial brought the Dandy Warhols major commercial success. As one of the band members from the Dandy Warhols told The Independent, “As far as I’m concerned, Vodafone saved rock’n’roll.”

10. Nike, “Revolution”

This is the kind of ad that only Nike could afford to make. No indie bands involved here—just, y’know, the Beatles. If you’re a company with the money to pair your brand with one of the most famous songs in history, you should definitely do it. Because ever since this ad, sneakers and social rebellion have been a little bit more synonymous.

What are your favorite songs in advertising? Holler at us @Contently.

Image by Deb Wenof

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