UNITED AIRLINES - RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1995; 2013)
Opinions on air travel vary - some love planes, others have an unimaginable horror of them. But whichever one of these two groups you belong to, you can't deny this mode of transport a certain poetry and harmony that takes hold of you when you look out of the boarding window. Since the 1990s, United Airlines has been relying on this aspect of travel, urging its customers to „fly towards the friendly skies”. The campaign, which first drew attention to the fact that flying is actually a matter of customer comfort, has to some extent set the course for the airline industry. It's no wonder that United Airlines revived it a few years ago to the same success, banking mainly on the nostalgia of those who remember the original iteration. But time-tested things are not to be changed, which is why the original musical identity has been retained. Indeed, United Airlines is already so closely associated with American composer George Gershwin's symphony Rhapsody In Blue that it can hardly be claimed by anyone else - despite the fact that since the composer's death, the time limit for retaining the original copyright has passed. For it is hard to argue that the combination of Gershwin and planes criss-crossing the blue sky is not a visual symphony in itself.
Video: United Airlinies - Rhapsody In Blue (2013)
JAGUAR - DESERT ROSE (2000)
The English pop-rock singer-songwriter Sting is about as comparable a guarantee of quality on the music scene as the Jaguar brand is to the automotive world. And when these two icons come together to produce one TV commercial, you can't go wrong. All the more so because Sting himself chose Jaguar as his car. Indeed, the legendary spots featuring his ethereal Desert Rose weren't exactly the intention of Jaguar's marketers, but instead came about on account of a recording sent to them by Sting's manager. In fact, the original video for the song is similarly tuned, using Jaguar's latest S-model production. The whole campaign - aptly named the Sting S-Type - then carried the leitmotif that many of us dream of becoming rock stars. But what do established rock stars dream of? A rugged and reliable car that can stand up to difficult terrain such as the desert, with Jaguar being the obvious choice. Throw into the mix a marketing heavyweight like production agency Ogilvy & Mather, and you've got yourself a spot that will dominate TV screens for generations to come. Which, in this case, it really did.
Video: Jaguar - Desert Rose (2000)
VODAFONE - BOHEMIAN LIKE YOU (2001)
Some performers' paths to stardom are lined with many obstacles. Fortunately, we have TV commercials that have the potential to go viral. And if your song gets picked up by a global company with that potential, you’re in. Such a fate awaited, with some exaggeration, the American alt-rock band The Dandy Warhols, whose track Bohemian Like You was chosen for marketing purposes by the British telecommunications company Vodafone. Let's leave aside for a moment the context of the connection between the brand and the chosen musical motif - it would be quite difficult to find it in this particular case. However, Vodafone cannot be denied that it has managed to make a band hitherto known mainly among connoisseurs a global stalwart of concert stages. The fact that the operator's campaign was directed at expanding operations in all corners of the world at the beginning of the millennium undoubtedly helped, too. Stages in those regions were then similarly taken over by a four-piece band from Portland, Oregon. Needless to say, this was not the last time this iconic song was used for promotional purposes. Later, car companies Ford and Citroën and textile company Next also used it in similar ways. The Portland boys probably didn't expect this development when they composed it.
Video: Vodafone - How Are You? (2001)
NIKE - A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION (2002)
There are songs that are perfect as soon as they are written. And then there are songs that are made perfect and iconic by an on point remix. Rock and roll legend Elvis Presley's A Little Less Conversation was perfect for many originally, but thanks to the JXL remix, it has become a truly timeless classic that has kept its energetic sound and vibe relevant decades after Elvis' death. “Less talk more action” is also a slogan made for the needs of the sports world. The marketing department of one of the biggest sportswear retailers, Nike, realised this in 2002. At that time, a cinematic approach was also in vogue in TV commercials, and the resulting spot is more a cinematic treatment of a cage football game than a typical TV commercial. At the very least, however, it features one hundred percent action and very little conversation of any kind. Interestingly, this commercial also contains a significant Czech footprint. The player of one of the rival teams is former Czech national team player and midfielder Tomáš Rosický. The world of continuous sporting action is, in short, sometimes very small.
Video: Nike - A Little Less Conversation (2002)
APPLE - ARE YOU GONNA BE MY GIRL (2003)
The telecommunications giant Apple is now almost inseparably linked to products like the iPhone mobile phone or the Mac laptop. Back in 2003, however, Apple started a revolution of its own, but in the light of later inventions, it has somewhat been lost in time. Its main icon, however, was the iPod, a pocket-sized music player that ensured we could all have our own music library at our fingertips anytime, anywhere. Apple also tapped into this wave in the accompanying TV spot, for which it chose the song Are You Gonna Be My Girl by the Australian rock band Jet as the theme song. Apple's marketers couldn't have chosen a better song to start the revolution - a song that's upbeat enough and energetic enough to make you want to dance anytime, anywhere. Combined with a plethora of colourful backgrounds and silhouettes of dancing listeners, it heralded a true revolution in music listening. iPods and their companion computer app iTunes may well be a thing of the past, but it's worth remembering that they were here for us before the endless possibilities of today's smart phones.
Video: Apple - Are You Gonna Be My Girl (2003)
GEARS OF WAR - MAD WORLD (2006)
In 2006, the first installment of the video game action Gears of War saw the light of day, accompanied by a rather massive marketing campaign that was quite unprecedented even by video game industry standards. The dystopian reality of the game, in which a de facto 24/7 war between the castes of society takes place, called for a similarly grim theme song. A cover version of Gary Jules' popular Mad World was a perfect fit for the purposes of TV ads. No need to dwell too much on how a song about how the world is irrational to the point of madness is a perfect match for a game world where this premise is pushed to the limit. The unassuming cover was then repeatedly given a new lease of life by the marketing campaign, with such success that in 2009 the song became (rather surprisingly) the UK's most played Christmas track on the radio ever. A decent achievement for a track that's nearly a decade old.
Video: Gears of War - Mad World (2006)
CADBURY'S - IN THE AIR TONIGHT (2007)
Who knew that in 2007 a drumming gorilla would take over the world of TV advertising? All the more abstract is the fact that the same drumming gorilla - in a clip that is practically really based on the gorilla drumming - will for a time become the brand ambassador for a brand that makes popular chocolates and other sweets. But British food company Cadbury's wasn't afraid to wade into surreal waters with its presentation. It enlisted the help of drum master Phil Collins of the band Genesis, who chose his power ballad In The Air Tonight to round off its long-running “gorilla” campaign. The TV spot itself is actually a performance by the aforementioned gorilla, who takes its place behind the drum kit of the maestro Collins himself. Cadbury's bet on the unusual format paid off, as evidenced by the ten per cent sales increase that followed the publication of this surreal pun. The company undoubtedly owes this to both actors - Phil Collins and his gorilla alter ego.
Video: Cadbury's - In The Air Tonight (2007)
SUNDROP - DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT (2011)
Californian rapper Snoop Dogg has such an intense household name in the world of show business that you'll find his footprint in virtually every one of its many industries. Television advertising is no exception - in addition to forming an unlikely presenting duo with Martha Stewart, Snoop has teamed up with Soda Stream, for example, and last year again with Mexican beer maker Corona (for the purposes of a humorous advert playing on the similarity between the product's name and a recent unnamed global pandemic, of course). In fact, the popular rapper is an inimitable maverick who has virtually no rivals in the hip-hop scene to this day. And making the audience laugh was therefore logically the goal in the case of the commercial for the popular fruit soda SunDrop. It was 2013, it was hot to fall, SunDrop was offering its refreshment... and Snoop's megahit Drop It Like It's Hot was trending on the radio. The word “drop” alone made it clear that this was an opportunity to be seized. The result, then, is a spot that builds on the popularity of the track used and all sorts of hilarious dance creations that can be conjured to its beats. In addition, the so-called crip walk was fresh in vogue at the time, which you can also enjoy to the full in the original clip and the SunDrop commercial.
SunDrop - Drop It Like It's Hot (2011)
MICROSOFT - I'M THE BEST (2014)
Living in a globalised world brings to us the benefits of opening up to foreign cultures, even in areas where you wouldn't have expected it just a few years ago. Given that the main accelerator of globalisation has always been and still is modern technology, it is only logical that this is reflected in the ways in which it is presented. But when Microsoft launched its campaign for its Windows Surface Pro 3 range of personal laptops in 2014, it was not without general surprise. In fact, the company chose a song by Korean band 2ne1 as its musical theme, opening up an almost bottomless reservoir for the commercial use of k-pop, j-pop and c-pop in Western advertising. Besides, what better backdrop could you look for for an ad whose main message is to set itself apart from its biggest competitor than one that translates simply to "I am the best”. The whole spot is de facto in the plane of comparing the advantages of laptops against tablets from the works of Apple, but the typical viewer will undoubtedly be attracted mainly by the Asian pop, the specifics of which he is not quite used to. Moreover, South Korea is one of the global hubs of technological innovation, which makes such a connection seem both appropriate and natural.
Video: Microsoft - I'm the best (2014)
NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL - HEAD FULL OF DOUBT/ROAD FULL OF PROMISE (2019)
Insurance commercials can hardly be considered some kind of goldmine of global television advertising. Yet a couple of years ago, a network of Milwaukee, USA-based insurance companies managed to launch a spot that is imaginative and very easy to remember. This is largely due to the choice of music by the American folk-pop group The Avett Brothers, whose songs repeatedly mention life's worries and similar themes. The song I And Love And You is a typical example of this. Last but not least, the chosen musical line also helps, since it has an almost spiritual overlap and to a certain extent invites its listeners to put their worries behind their heads, because everything will eventually be alright somehow. What stronger message could an insurance company have wished for in its advertising? It's institutions like Northwestern Mutual that strive for a reputation as a reliable partner for life - so it's no surprise that their presentation ideally has a reassuring feel and is based on scenes of human belonging. In this case, The Avett Brothers provided the final ingredient that pushed the spot to perfection with their song.
Video: Northwestern Mutual - Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise (2019)
Music, in short, has a firm place in the world of advertising. World-renowned artists can use their iconic songs to support a brand's presentation - and it doesn't matter in the end whether the song chosen fits more with the brand's identity or what the TV spot's visuals show. Music adds emotion and creates the desired atmosphere. This is no different in the Czech republic, where in many cases it is still a combination with the inimitable Czech humour. But more about that next time...