Staying in tune key to hit ads

Paul Mallon says Irish brands should jump on the music bandwagon by hiring local talent and give their TV and radio ads more oomph

We fall out over signing up international footballers like Jack Grealish and Declan Rice, we cannot agree on the essential elements of a fry-up and get really narked when they claim our Katie or Saoirse as their own. But stop the lights. There is common ground between the Irish and English creative industries on the power and priority given to music in advertising, or why it is still a missed beat.

Step up to the plate, Gousto. The recipe box company made a song and a dance in just recently with a sharp new TV ad, made by London agency Mother. In the commercial, called ‘Give it Some’, a man floats around some fine looking food, accompanied by superior slabs of such classic pop hits as OMD’s ‘Enola Gay’ and The Charlatans’ ‘One To Another’. Quite the ingredients.

But after soaking it all up, some viewers asked if the tunes overwhelmed the message. “Cool ad – but one problem… I’ve no idea what Gousto is/does after seeing it,” one brand leader chipped up on LinkedIn, admittedly not known as a bastion of rational creative debate. Les Binet, group head of effectiveness at Adam & Eve DDB, is a man who knows a thing or two about good tunes in ads.

Three’s ad an anthem for Green Army: Jack Charlton in Three’s Euro 2016 TV ad featuring The Stunning’s ‘Brewing Up a Storm’ created by Boys + Girls. Jarrod Banadyga says stock music is a wasteland of mediocrity on which so many Irish brand owners rely. More thought should be put into helping Irish bands by paying for sync rights coming out of the pandemic. It is time to support musicians, who have suffered hugely and could use the money and exposure from tracks featured in ads.

Binet says: “The selling power of music is massively under-rated. If you want to get a message across, then music can help get people to pay attention to what you have to say and help people remember it. It can increase the ad’s selling power by up to 30 per cent. Put that another way, for some ads, about a third of the sales are down to the music in the ad. That’s quite staggering when you think about it.”

At times, the choice of music may be more important than the message. “It’s consistent with other research that I’ve done with Peter Field, based on the IPA Databank, which suggests the most effective ad campaigns tend not to rely on messages at all. Rather, they charm and seduce consumers with emotions, feelings and associations. Music is a powerful way to do that,” Binet insists.

Gousto and Mother know their onions. “Of course, there are message-based ads that work really well,” Binet adds. “But even there, music can help, by making people pay attention to the message and retain it. Jingles are an unfashionable but highly effective way of getting people to remember something,” he adds. Steve Wall, frontman of The Stunning and The Walls fully concurs.


One of his jingles was so jangly that it became a hit single after featuring in an AIB ad in 2005. Wall was asked by McConnells to provide music for the bank long before financial institutions resorted to wooing consumers with their dreaded ukuleles. “Our band had a riff and some words, from a rehearsal. The agency loved it as a jingle and the AIB ads were well made,” Wall said.

Then something totally mad happened. People started texting radio stations to ‘play the AIB song’. Today FM got involved and Wall was asked on Ray Darcy’s Fix It Friday to turn the jingle into a proper song, which became Bright and Shining Sun. Creative integrity still plays a big part. Wall turned down requests to use ‘Brewing Up A Storm’ in ads for years, as he felt the brand fit was wrong.

Few agencies were willing to pay what that song was worth to The Stunning. Boys+Girls eventually snared the 1990 classic hit for Three’s punchy Euro 2016 ‘Make History’ spot. “That was a brilliant fit for us,” Wall says, “there were hairs standing up on my neck when I first saw it on TV. I know there’s some bands who won’t allow their songs in ads. But, listen, we pay for all our own music.


“If somebody is willing to pay us £30,000 for something we’ve slaved over, it goes a long way to making our next album,” he adds. Original music can lift a brand from a sea of mediocrity. Irish brands like Fáilte Ireland, Bord Gáis Energy, FBD Insurance, Diageo, Littlewoods and SuperValu walk the walk by aligning their sports sponsorship creative with music by Irish artists.

Jarrod Banadyga, creative director, The Public House, says music is often overlooked in Irish ads. “Brands are scared of the usage costs, or worried that another brand might eventually use the same track,” Banadyga says. “A great track won’t save a mediocre script, but the right track can elevate a smart ad, give it more meaning, more goosebumps, or provide another layer of subtle narration.”

Dublin music supervisor John McCallion calls out Irish music’s high standards. Acts like Denise Chaila and Pillow Queens are making waves in Ireland and internationally. “With the strength, diversity and momentum that Irish music has right now,” McCallion says, “it’s a prime time to work with Irish artists, writers, producers and composers on creative that genuinely connects.” 

Paul Mallon is head of brand marketing at Paddy Power Betfair








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