Tag Archives: 90s

Music in Commercials

When the Martin Agency first started making UPS Whiteboard commercials, their ironic choice to use the music of The Postal Service was well documented.  While I thought the song choice was a perfect selection for the quirky UPS ads, I also had a hard time getting past the band’s name to sell the services of USPS’s rival.

Music is a powerful ingredient in advertising.  And just like any kitchen recipe, the amount and intensity of an ingredient should be dependent on the balance of all the elements in the composition.  It can carry the recipe, or can complement it.  And of course in failed concoctions, it can overwhelm or underwhelm to work against the intended message.

Here are two commercials that ensnared my attention lately due to the musical components:

“Victory” McDonald’s spot for 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing
Music: Os Mutantes – A Minha Menina
Agency:  DDB Chicago

I downloaded this song within ten minutes of seeing the commercial.  That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the music: it was arresting, catchy, and put me on a mission to listen to it more.  I also love that the music tells the story completely and that there was no need for dialogue whatsoever.  Despite the strength of the music, I don’t think it overpowered the message.

Visa commercial
Music: Smashing Pumpkins – Today
Agency: TBWA

The Smashing Pumpkins have been getting a lot of flack for “selling out” this week by letting Visa use their music in this commercial.  Maybe they are selling out, maybe they aren’t, but the point is, TBWA picked a ’90s anthem which not only cuts through clutter, but also drives more attention to their brand because of the debate.  Plus the agency chose Morgan Freeman, who an AdWeek columnist names “the official voice of God in this age of mild Depression,” to narrate the commercial, making it even more memorable.  I think the song is an interesting choice and empowering, which I believe was TBWA’s and Visa’s intention.  I think the bad press is more catastrophic to the band than the brand, but I also believe that most of the general market will like or dislike the song while caring little about whether or not Billy Corgan and his band sold out.

I think both commercials successfully incorporated the music they chose and adequately conveyed their brand’s message, but the first one was a far better and more memorable commercial overall.

What songs have you seen in commercials lately that grabbed your attention?  Did they work for or against the brand?



Filed under advertising, music

Stuff that was cool: Umbros

(This post is a nod to one of my favorite blogs, Stuff That Was Cool, which allows me to reminisce about the glorious decade that was the 1990s, multiple times every week.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hear.)

Once upon a time, I was an insanely dorky and awkward middle schooler.  I had horrible bangs I was trying to grow out, never left home without a scrunchie in my bag and wore t-shirts just about everyday, tucked in.

umbro-logoIf that wasn’t bad enough, I adored spring, summer and fall weather, though not for the sunshine, or flowers.  It was because it meant it was time to crack out my Umbros!

Though the company manufactured all sorts of soccer clothing and gear, for some reason it was Umbro’s shorts that really took off.  You could find them everywhere:  soccer stores, athletic stores, even department stores at the mall!  There were the shorts with the classic shiny checkerboard design, and the ones that looked like windpants material with a different color piping at the bottom.  Many had bright color combinations that would hurt your eyes.  All had the unmistakable diamond-within-a-diamond logo on the bottom of the shorts’ left leg.

Early on, most people I knew who wore Umbros were soccer players, at least recreationally.  But I hadn’t played the sport since 4th or 5th grade.  I actually hated soccer, but boy did I love Umbros shorts!  Stylish?  No.  But comfortable?  Absolutely.

As you may have guessed by my scrunchie ownership, I was not one for style.  Apparently this is a trait I shared with Jessica Biel.  When quoted in Harper’s Bazaar, Biel said:

“I literally wore Umbro shorts, No Fear T-shirts, and sneakers until I was, like, 15. I didn’t care, and my mom didn’t care. I didn’t have fashion icons.”

Neither did I.  I probably wore them til age 15 as well.  I remember vividly when I made varsity volleyball in 9th grade, I got teased by older (and much taller) teammates and earned the nickname “Umbro girl.”  Thankfully by that point in time I had developed a keen enough fashion sense to realize I shouldn’t wear the shorts for all occasions, though they were certainly an option for warm, lazy days and working out.  But in four years of varsity volleyball and nickname-dom, I never came around to the spandex-y leave-nothing-to-the-imagination shorts everyone else preferred.  I may have been a nerd and the laughingstock of the team, but hey, at least I was comfortable.  And an added bonus:  I could easily gain 1o or 15 pounds and no one would notice.  I could just loosen the drawstring waistband and enjoy the bagginess in the thighs that my Umbros offered.  Take that biker shorts!


Sexy, sexy, sexy shorts!  Boo-yah!

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Filed under 90s