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Why Music is Advertising’s Primal Scream

Trends and Insight 318 Add to collection

Laura Swinton on how music pulls the industry together at Cannes and beyond

Why Music is Advertising’s Primal Scream

For most of the year they’re neglected, overlooked and taken for granted, but as Cannes begins to creep ever nearer they become the most popular playas in the advertising industry. I’m talking about music companies. If what you’re looking for is a massive bounce about on the beach, it’s the music companies that you want to hunt out. If they're not hosting their own party or event, more often than not they're at least sponsoring and DJing. After eleven months of being left off credits, they find themselves targeted from every angle by the ticket-hungry masses. I get the feeling that the unsung heroes of adland deserve more of a song and dance from the rest of the industry over the rest of the year.

I’ve been thinking about music a lot recently - and yes, it is thanks to Cannes. I’ve been working with a spectrum of music companies to help us find the tracks that encapsulate those notorious Cannes moments (so stay tuned for some pumping tunes on the site!) and the Jungle/Native/El Carousel crew, who will be sponsoring the LBB & Friends Beach, have been working with our very own Peach to create a post-rosé haven called ‘The Hanging Gardens’ and act as DJs for the week. Then there’s the party gossip (I’ve both sent and received a fair few emails already) - Sizzer’s Jazzy Jeff-inspired SummerSummerSummertime party has been getting us excited, we’re waiting with bated breath about news of this year’s MassiveMusic & MediaMonks do, we’re intrigued to here that Hush has been hired by Google to provide music at their large beach throughout the festival, as well as curating live acts for Google… and no doubt there will be more events announced in the coming couple of weeks.

At the risk of sounding corny, it’s funny to see how the music houses are bringing the industry together in the South of France because throughout the course of human evolution, music has always been a sort of social glue. The oldest musical instrument is thought to be between 42,000 and 43,000 years old and there is compelling evidence to suggest that music was first developed as a social tool and that ‘musicality’ is an evolved form of social cognition. Neuroscientists such as Oliver Sacks argue that music is unique in its power to move us at a biological level – and if you haven’t already I would also check out the work of Daniel Levitin whose books are a pretty convincing argument for the idea that music is a profoundly human, deeply communal phenomenon.


It’s perplexing to think how primitive yet sophisticated humanity’s relationship with music is. When you consider our musical history, it could be argued that for advertisers, filmmakers, creators and marketers it’s perhaps the most important and powerful tool at our disposal. I like to think of myself as a bit of a visual thinker and I can’t resist slick graphic design or some explosively colourful animation, but I wonder if perhaps we prioritise sight over sound a little too frequently in the industry? Superstar musical acts aside, directors, art directors and writers tend to bag far more industry coverage than musicians and composers. As a slightly arbitrary yardstick, if the oldest musical instrument is 42,000-ish years old, the world’s oldest cave art (in El Castillo, Spain) is actually comparatively younger at 40,800 years old….and written language is positively foetal in comparison, having been invented around 3200 BC.

As branding and advertising becomes more about interaction and community, facilitated by technology, this ancient social cohesive couldn’t be more relevant. So this week my appeal to you is to get out and get talking to the people who keep the industry dancing. And I’m going to be following my own advice on this one - starting this week, we’re going to be inviting the musical maestros of the global advertising industry to create Friday afternoon playlists to ease you into the weekend and to keep music in the creative spotlight for the rest of the year.


This year Cannes Lions has organised a day dedicated to exploring the different relationships between music and advertising – as industries, as engagement tools, as content creators and as collaborators. There are  speakers from Universal, Sony, Vevo and Pandora, as well as more specialist agencies like Frukt and Synkio. They've even got Ne-Yo taking part in a session that looks examines and challenges the existing brand/artist collaboration models. There is also a panel of music managers who will argue the case that they are the new CMO’s. It takes place on Friday 20 June, in the Forum Stage. The Full cannes agenda is on www.canneslions.com
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Genres: Music & Sound Design

LBB Editorial, Wed, 28 May 2014 16:48:42 GMT