Using Music To Create Gold Medal Ads

In a few days the world will be witness to a great competition where stories of hard work, perseverance, and victory will excite and inspire. This, of course, is Olympic Advertising. Oh, and there’s this athletic competition happening at the same time that’s supposed to be good too. 

But seriously, the Olympics are a marquee television event where advertisers put their best foot forward to engage consumers. And one of the tools Olympic marketers traditionally use to great effect is music.

Music can shape dynamic, engaging TV ads that not only fit in the Olympic environment, but also communicate the brand message. In preparation for the upcoming festivities, here are some ways advertisers have effectively used music in Olympic commercials past and present:

1) Using Music To Get Attention
Research has shown that ads with appealing music garner more attention than those without it. However, great music is not enough to create an effective ad. The music must match the tonality of the story while also tying to the brand.



In "Start Me Up" from the 2012 London Games, Omega uses the highly recognizable Rolling Stones song to draw viewers into the story. The spot builds anticipation by slowing the tempo of the song’s iconic intro and coordinating the music with the athletes on the cusp of their quest for glory.

At the moment of release, when the ad transitions to the clock and then fully reveals the Omega brand, it effectively ties both the song and the athletes’ starts to the brand.

2) Using Music to Create Emotion 
Within the context of an ad, music can set the tone and create the emotion through which the ad is viewed – in essence, driving the emotion of the story.

In Under Amour’s “Rule Yourself: Michael Phelps” The Kill’s “Last Goodbye” goes beyond setting a somber tone. The music and lyrics work with the Michael Phelps training footage to reveal the struggle and the isolation of an athlete preparing for what could be his last moment of Olympic glory.

When Under Armour is introduced at the end, it is positioned as the athletic brand that will stand by you as you press on through the dark to reach the light.

Interestingly, the behind-the-scenes video for this ad uses much different music. In this case, the training scenes evoke power rather than struggle. 

3) Drawing Attention to Important Moments with Music
In addition to working on an overall level, music can draw attention to and create emotion at specific moments. Proctor & Gamble’s “Thank You Mom”spot from the 2014 Sochi Olympics reflects back on the journeys of several Olympic athletes, showing how their mothers supported them from their introduction to their sports, through training, and finally to Olympic performance. In this ad, the music changes with the narrative superscripts (sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly). The musical and visual symmetry helps highlight key moments in the ad: when the mother lets go of her young skater’s hand and the emotional payoff when the athletes embrace their mothers after achieving their goals.

By helping these moments stand out to and resonate with viewers, the music is shaping the memories that this ad will leave with consumers.

4) Music Enhances the Voice Over
In addition to enhancing visuals, music can also add to the gravity and emotion of verbal moments. Kellogg’s London 2012 “Great Starts” follows a swimmer from the starting blocks to just before the final touch and then does a slow motion reversal back to the starting block. The swell in the music supports the swell in intensity of the voiceover, strengthening the argument that the start is more important than the finish.

As you develop your next campaign, keep in mind the different ways music can help your ad have the most impact among your audience.

1 comment about "Using Music To Create Gold Medal Ads".
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  1. Joshua Simons from yours LTD, August 3, 2016 at 2:31 p.m.

    Correct. Music drives interruption and passion that links the eye with the ear to create an engagement that will resonate if the two are connected in sync. Many ad presentations are much stronger with a legacy music bed that brings back positive and respectful memories. I notice that The Kinks music from "You Really Got Me" to Picture Book" to a dozen other legacy music tracks from this artist that seem to be getting a lot more inclusion into the ad maket place today. Very smart move. And it does stimilate a positive and memorable brand image impression.

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