Awarding Music In Advertising.

Posted Monday 18th March, 2013 by Sascha Darroch-Davies

It's a funny old field this, and as we'd probably all agree, music is such a subjective beast. However, I posit today that it's almost impossible to win an award  for music in advertising (in the UK at least), without the ad itself being an award winner too.

Let's look at some recent winners at the awards...

British Arrows Craft Awards 2012 - Original Music.

Marc Bianchi & Bryan Ray Turcotte at Beta Petrol For Nike Free Run ‘Run to You’

Is this a great piece of music? Would you listen to this at home? No. And neither would anyone else with ears. Frankly, it's a bit annoying as a stand alone song, not to mention a heavy nod towards the much-referenced Mouldy Peaches track from the Juno soundtrack, "Anyone Else But You"

One can't deny the song does do a good job, but on it's own it's just a bit naff really. So why does it get gold? Because of the great commercial it's attached too.


Music & Sound Awards 2013 - Best Composition in advertising.

Phil Kay Woodwork Music for Guardian '3 Little Pigs'

Can you remember the music? Probably not! You can barely hear it for the opening 25 seconds of the ad, perhaps that's why it does its job so well - ie. scoring the action, and that does deserve credit, it's very good. But why does it win best whatsit? Mostly because of the great commercial it's attached too.


What about an ad that probably wont win awards despite musical prowess or creativity;

Moon cup - Moon Cup vs Tampon

Lyrics - Al Young, Julian Vizard, Ed Redgrave and Dave Wrigglesworth.

Nobody seems to be able to tell us who did the music!

Ok, bit early for the awards, but I reckon you probably wont see (or hear) it on any of the shortlists. Yet it's a really smart piece of songwriting and well produced to boot, it basically IS the ad. Realistically though, we probably wont see it collecting silverware because - a) people are hugely divided on the product and b) the premise of the ad itself - but should this really affect whether the muscial element is or isn't award worthy?


A not dissimilar idea was used on the Fiat 500L film recently, a good piece of work no doubt, the music though... hmmmmm, not as nice a noise that one was it? Not nearly as well written, produced or performed as the Moon Cup track, but which do you think is more likely to have Champagne wasted over its success do you think; and why? Sing along everyone... because of the commercial it's attached to. And don't get me started on the Fiat film for Dads that just came out... WTF?


Anyhooo... here are some other nice bits worth more than a cursory listen and that stand out as more than just an accompaniment:


Twix 'Ideologies'

Music by Human in New York.


Post Office 'Just Another Day'

Music by Soundtree in London.


Cow & Gate 'Supergroup'

Music by Lester Barnes.


Morrisons 'For Your Christmas'

Music by John Debney.



So, will we see a change in the views of judging panels? We're constantly told music is "so important" and "a nightmare to get right" and a host of other phrases I could quote. Ultimately, in advertising at least, it is only part of a bigger idea. If the overall idea is great, then chances are the music will get called the same by association.

But it would be nice to think that when people, judges, research panels et al are viewing or more importantly, hearing work in this weird and sometimes wonderful corner of the industry that we occupy, they will as George suggests LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE.