Visual and audio elements are two of the main components that make up a television commercial. The voice-over, the sales message or informational content, the graphics, the footage and photos; these are what the viewer engages with and so they are undoubtedly a crucial part of a well-designed TV ad. But there is another piece of the ad that is just as important as the content and visual elements- music.


The chosen music to accompany a TV commercial, whether it is subtle in the background, a custom jingle or a more prominent pop song, sets the tone for your ad. It is how a customer will connect with a brand or product on an emotional level and even boosts brand recall. Do you want your customer excited about your product? Do you want to evoke trust in your expertise or industry knowledge? Do you want to soothe or calm your customer during a sensitive or emotional experience? These are all questions that need to be asked when choosing the proper music for an ad. The pitfall of not addressing these questions and choosing non-congruent music is creating a negative brand experience for your customer or failing to appropriately relay the most important information.

There are three main categories for ad music: instrumental, jingle, and pop. Instrumental music, either custom composed or existing pieces, works best when the verbal or visual content is important, when verbal disclaimers or side-effects must be audible, when the focus is intended to be on a celebrity or spokesperson, or when an ad needs to create a sense of mystery. An example of popular instrumental music can be found in Volkswagen’s 2011 ad The Force. A child dressed in a Darth Vader costume tries to use The Force to command actions from various objects. The classic and unmistakable Imperial March plays in the background, dramatic and mysterious. Will the child succeed? We wonder. When the Dad uses his remote control start on his Volkswagen, the child is astounded. The Force worked! We laugh, we are charmed, we connect with Volkswagen.

Second, custom jingles encourage recognition and brand identity. Jingles demonstrate the importance of tempo, tone, genre, and knowing the target demographic. When a jingle is done right and has staying power, it can have lasting positive effects for a brand. For example, consider one of the most popular brand jingles for Kit-Kat. We only need the first few notes and were all signing Gimme a Break! This jingle has been in use since 1986, and while it’s had minor updates to stay current, it shows the positive effects of a well written jingle and consistent use in advertising.

Last, we come to popular music. When licensing music for an ad it is important to make sure that the artist, song lyrics and tempo match the brand, product, and ad content. In 2015, Ford used Rachel Platten’s hit?Fight Song in their 2015 Ford Edge commercial. With the goal of creating the sense of empowerment and confidence, choosing an anthem-like song such as Fight Song not only boosted Ford Edge sales in 2015 over 20141 , but the mutually beneficial relationship helped propel Rachel Platten’s career forward with her now increased popularity.

Music makes us form opinions, engage, connect, remember a brand. The goal is to create a positive experience for your customer. If you’d like to discuss your music strategy in your ads or explore music licensing, we’d be happy to assist you in this process. Reach out, were listening.


*Blog Credit to Catherine Ramos, M2 Account Executive and cat lover