When you sit down to watch a half-hour TV show, you end up watching several commercials as well. Most of the time, the products that commercials try to sell aren’t the things you think about when you walk away, but more often than not you end up with a song stuck in your head.
There are many different types of songs used in commercials. Sometimes advertisers write songs specifically for their product, and others use songs already recorded by artists. When it comes to the latter, people’s opinions vary. In some cases, some people believe that a big band or artist that allows a company to use their song in a commercial is ‘selling out’. Gramsci uses an example with Levi jeans, and he discusses how someone thought that Levi jeans would never be able to sell its products with a certain song, unless that band sold out.
When it comes to this type of situation, commercials are using bands and artists that have already made a name for themselves and are famous. “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas was used in a Target commercial in which the band was selling both the store and their music.
A recent Superbowl Chrysler commercial featured not only a song by Eminem (“Lose Yourself”) but the rapper himself. Commercials like these, that use artists like Eminem or Black Eyed Peas, are using the popularity of the artists to help sell their product.
In other cases, artists or specific songs are made famous by commercials. One example is the song “Hey Soul Sister” by Train. Even if you don’t listen to the band, you might be familiar with the song if you’ve seen certain Samsung commercials. Another example is “Powerful Stuff” by Sean Hayes, which is well known because it was in a Subaru commercial.
With both commercials, the majority of the people who end up watching them remember the song but not the product, which even leads to them buying the song. Here, it seems that the commercials are not only selling their product, but the music as well. Unlike the first two examples, the companies can’t rely on the popularity of the music to help sell their product.