If a tree falls in deserted forest…

Soundlounge Team
July 18, 2018

Sir John Hegarty is alleged to have stated, in the heyday of the Levi’s commercials, that the “music is 50% of my commercials”. A few years later, when BRANDsense and Millward Brown asked consumers what ratios they attributed to vision and sound in their advertising and marketing, they responded with a loud 58:41 (with the reliable 1% not knowing!)

So how important is the music when judging the creative elements for a Cannes Lion (or any other award)?

The answer, judging from the credits for each awards video on the Cannes Lion website, is… not very.

Around 75% used music or sound in some form or another. But while I could see credits for PR, special effects and other random entries, I struggled to find any recognition of the music artist, composer or sound designer, let alone the music supervisor or even the track title. Which is not very nice when some adverts had a well-known copyright track running right through the visual.

Yet the ad industry knows that music is important because you so often drive us crazy finding the right track for the ad. And having found something you like, it has to fit and edit to the picture. At this stage any decision is only half of the story, because the TV producers then have to clear rights in time and on budget. Account teams accept that they may have to go back to the brand client and ask for more money to make this idea come to fruition. When the answer from Procurement is an Oliver Twist style ‘NO!’, the whole music search starts again. For one campaign I submitted 700 tracks before the creative director heard the right one.

Here is a wake-up call. Research by Microsoft in 2015 revealed that the average attention time given by today’s consumer is less than eight seconds. With Skip Ad they give you four. The only narrative that can engage the customer in under four seconds is music – because it connects in nano seconds. Brilliant visuals by themselves are not enough in today’s market.

And here’s another thing: if you can keep the consumer engaged it will increase the likelihood of them staying longer with the commercial. The longer they watch the more they increase brand recall, awareness and propensity to buy.

The music industry knows how to do this – music has emotionally engaged consumers with intros, hooks and bridges for centuries. They connect the heartbeat of the consumer to the heartbeat of the music.

Working with music to engage quickly should be fundamental to all ad campaigns. If nobody is watching your visual storytelling brilliance, it begs the question of the tree falling in the forest with no-one around.

C’mon guys, sound and vision are team work. The music industry is not looking to ambush your moments at Cannes. All we are looking for is a credit. Tell us the name of the track, who wrote it and who made it happen for you.

PS: A big thanks to AMV and JWT, two agencies who do list the music credits.