I think music is important in how we remember things. Certain songs will always bring back memories or feelings of a time or place, which I suppose can be a good or a bad thing!

Because I think music helps your brain connect with things, I find it fascinating to see how the media uses it in not only their programmes but also in adverts.

Even in movies it’s really strange if you watch a scene where there’s no music in the background - imagine watching Jaws without the da-dum, da-dum going on in the background whenever anyone goes into the water, it would be rubbish!

Anyone hearing that music immediately thinks of the movie and sharks - I don’t think many would want to be out scuba diving when they hear that sound, even the most hardened divers would likely be slightly spooked!

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Given this apparent link between longterm memory and music, it seems an obvious step for advertisers to use music to help sell their products. In fact this has been the case almost since the dawn of telelvision with the most successful adverts being the ones that featured little musical jingles, such as the old Fairy Liquid adverts.

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Things have moved on a bit since then, but some advertisers and products have stuck with this route of conjuring up unique music and jingles to sell their products. Currently on TV we have a Sugar Puffs advert with what is quite possibly the worst “rap-jingle” in the world. Some people want the advert removed because they think the idea was stolen from elsewhere, but I want it removed just because I think it’s rubbish!

The perhaps more modern approach is to take music which has already been written and use it as a soundtrack to your advert. This obviously works best in adverts which don’t have very much speech, such as car adverts and the like. The hope will be that the public will grow to associate that particular song with the product it’s advertising and therefore in the future when they hear the song they will think of the product.

This can backfire somewhat if you use Band X’s music and Band X happen to have a rivalry going with Band Y - by using X’s music you run the risk of stopping Y’s fans from buying your product. For this reason, advertisers seem to try and either choose universally popular tracks, or indeed tracks noone has ever heard of.

In the latter case this can have a double-whammy effect - first you get a nice soundtrack to your advert, but then later when the song is released, people will forever think of it as “that song from such-and-such an advert.”

Because of the length of adverts, the soundtrack is often best if it doesn’t actually have any singing but instead is just an instrumental. This is where band’s like Sigur Ros have cashed in lately, with their unbelievably excellent music lending itself incredibly well to this platform. Prior to the release of their last album, Takk, they were perhaps not the best known band but following on the use of the music from that album in adverts for seemingly every type of product and programme, their next album is eagerly awaited by many. No doubt the majority of tracks will be snapped up by anxious advertisers as soon as they are available.

Other programmes require music to play during items, so they must request specially produced instrumental versions of popular recent songs. Match of The Day and the like seem to do this a lot - and hopefully the bands benefit financially as well!

It can be really annoying when you get a little clip of a song during an advert, especially if you think you know it but just can’t place it. Usually that’s because you are used to hearing the vocal as part of the entire song whereas the advert will normally only feature the instrumental part. Of course the internet is a huge help for when this happens, it can settle any debate in seconds whereas in days gone by it would be the type of thing that would bug you for weeks!

Richard Leyton has an excellent thread running on his blog which answers hundreds of questions on this topic - which song is in such-and-such an advert, or featured in so-and-so’s show - it’s a really interesting read, and I’ve searched on there myself to find answers to my own queries.

It’s a hugely important area of TV that I must admit I’d never really given much thought to before, but now I’m more aware of it I’m noticing more and more the importance of music in the advertising industry. Now, if only I could come up with a jingle or two myself…