“Ah, music, a magic beyond all we do here!” Albus Dumbledore once said. The iconic wizard might have been a fictional character, but I still think it says something that a man who can manipulate dragon blood recognizes the power of a good beat.
If you’ve stepped foot in New York City, you’ve likely recognized it too. Somewhere between a third and half of the sleepy subway riders are plugged into their iPods. On the street, each store serenades shoppers with its own idiosyncratic selection of pop, jazz, or electric funk.
Music has been called the universal language, and brands know this, often using music to accentuate their content’s message. But what’s really cool is when music becomes the center of attention. Here are a handful of brands who pushed music into the spotlight:
1. Old Navy’s “Unlimited”
Old Navy crafted a mini-musical dedicated to the cringeworthiest of childhood memories: the first day of school. “Will I fit into this puzzle I’m about to walk into?” the protagonist sings. Womp Womp, a purple potato-shaped monster, reminiscent of Grimace the McDonald’s character, is like a devil on the protagonist’s shoulder, popping in and out to express her inner doubts. But, ultimately, “Unlimited” is an inspiring musical story of unlimited possibilities, dancing lunch ladies, and new friends. The song rocks way harder than High School Musical, and as a former Old Navy employee, I think it really hit the brand’s colorful, poppy voice on the head. Consumers seem to agree: It’s garnered about 5.5 million views so far.
2. Borjomi’s Water-Bottle-Dispensing “Piano Machine”
In a really weird experiment, Ukrainian water company Borjomi left a sideways piano on the sidewalk. Curious bystanders cautiously stepped up to play with it, like characters pulling books in an attempt to find a secret trap door. When someone had played enough to turn a light from red to yellow to green, the piano dispensed a water bottle. Many were ecstatic to find that the mysterious contraption was actually a vending machine.
The video ends with throngs gathered around a makeshift band: a man awkwardly—yet brilliantly—tapping the sideways piano and a saxophonist doing his thing.
3. Spotify’s “Don’t Go Chasing Girls”
Music is weirdly linked to vivid memories, people, and ideas that simply can’t be explained. Everyone can relate to the experience. I, for one, associate “Otherside” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers with my high school math class—an anecdote that might or might not be more poignant than it sounds.
Spotify fleshes out this idea with a new series of silly advertisements that connects songs to memories. This one involves a mixed CD and a fourth grader’s run-in with unrequited love. “You have the story. We have the song,” Spotify says.
4. Thai Life Insurance’s “Street Concert”
Time to cry your eyes out. Thai Life Insurance has cemented its reputation as a creator of heart-wrenching videos, and it certainly delivers here with a dark, beautifully shot short film about a group of boys and their love of guitar. The narrator asks, “What can you accomplish with the sound of music?” and a captivating tale follows.
5. Toyota’s “Scion Sessions”
One of the best things a brand can do is give lesser-known musicians a chance to shine. Toyota’s Scion (and their media partners, Aux and Blue Ant Media) do this right by selecting Canadian bands to perform for “Scion Sessions,” like the one above featuring Canadian underground artist Tommy Kruise, who churns out awesome beats and appears to harbor suppressed fears about growing accustomed to family life.
Like the rest of the examples above, it’s a wonderful mix of music and storytelling that elevates the sponsoring brands in the process. Are you ready to make your content marketing sing?