Music is an important part of advertising.

It can evoke feelings which influence a consumers mood and even trigger memories of products when particular tracks are heard elsewhere. If done right.

To get it right, advertising agencies will spend a long time considering the entire concept of the advert, from a storyboard to the music and calls to action. They know what reactions the ad should have with the audience and they’ll use every opportunity to encourage those reactions.

Disparate Youth is a track by Santigold that you’ve most likely heard. It’s been used by Direct Line on it’s adverts since 2012. At the time the song wasn’t that well known (it only reached number 96 in the UK charts). But as the ad is played more, the music becomes more popular, meaning you’re more likely to hear the song in a bar, in the supermarket, wherever, and you’ll subconsciously think of Direct Line.

That’s not the only example of this kind of subliminal musical messaging, have a listen to Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John.

Volkswagen’s latest advert, Woofwagen, illustrates the diversity of it’s range using the diversity of the breeds of dog that might be carried around within them. Nice idea. I love dogs. But the best part of the ad, for me, is the music. It’s simple, beautiful and fun. Dogs are fun too. So Volkswagen’s are fun, right? Let’s buy a Volkswagen.

So that’s the good, but now for the reason I thought about this article in the first place.

I’ve seen a few adverts recently that really ground on me, like the clichéd ‘nails on a blackboard’.

First off, Volvo’s new ad for the V40 R-Design is lazy, in that it looks like every other car advert. Close ups of the vehicle as it drives down the road, through an interesting landscape. Make your own mind up whether this is a tried and tested technique or just the cheapest way to put something together quickly.

Musically, it’s lazy too. Volvo is a Swedish brand, Little Dragon are a Swedish band. So they must go together…

I like this song, but as a layer in this advert it jars. A lot. From the drums at the beginning to the lyrics that have no association to the product. So much so that they get shouted over with the voiceover.

Now, the video below is the Romanian version, as the UK version isn’t available online, but Ariel have made a simple mistake with their choice on the 3-in-1 pods advert.

By choosing a song that is already largely associated with another product, the effectiveness of it is diluted. If you hear this song in the pub, you don’t hear washing powder, you hear posh kids sleeping around in the more affluent areas of London.

I’m sure it’s very hard to get this part of an advert right, but surely it’s obvious when it’s wrong. If more time is invested in choosing the right track, the benefits are there to be seen. As an afterthought, the ad can simply be forgotten.