By Kristen Manias

One industry trend I have started to notice the past few years is the use of the same song in multiple commercials by different companies.  It seems as if popularity ensues after one use, advertisers are willing to use it time and time again hoping for the same effects.

The first example of this was last year with the song, “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train.  This song was used in at least 5 commercials, which is 4 too many considering how overplayed the song was on the radio.  People had enough of this song while it was on the radio and the last place they wanted to hear it was when they turned on their TVs.  Whether it was for the preview for ‘Life As We Know It’ starring Katherine Heigl or Samsung’s commercials for its LED TV or their new front loading washing machine, even changing the channel couldn’t get you away from this song.

Eventually, the public had had enough as sites and articles began popping up in outrage about the overuse of the song on the radio, on TV, and in movies.  As one reader wrote about a related article on, “I’ve hated this song since day one and every time it’s on the radio or TV I scramble to change the station. This song grates on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard and I can’t wait for it to go away!!”  With Train’s popularity, many people seemed to grow angry as time went on, but as the trend continues today with lesser-known bands, people seem to be more supportive and willing to overlook this overuse.

With AdAge naming “Home” by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros this year’s ‘Overexposed Ad Song’ this trend is not going unnoticed. Despite their unpopularity before being used in alternate media, the song has been featured in commercials for Blue Cross Blue Shield, NFL, Microsoft’s Kin phone, and most recently Ford.  They have had multiple songs off their 2009 CD release “Up From Below” used in commercials and TV shows and no one seemed to mind the repetition.

Another Indie band that has been thrown into the public eye due to commercial usage is The Temper Trap and the use of their song “Sweet Disposition.”  Having Googled this song after the first time I heard it in a Chrysler commercial, I was surprised when I heard it in nearly three more commercials within the next few months (Diet Coke, Earth Hour promotion, L’Oreal).  Their song was also included on the soundtrack and movie preview for (500) Days of Summer.

Overall, it seems as though audiences seem to appreciate advertisers giving smaller indie bands the opportunity to showcase their music.  For many musicians and/or bands having their song showcased in an ad may be the jolt into stardom they have been looking for.  The “Home” song’s placement in ads resulted in a 32% increase in sales for Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros.

So what does this say to advertisers?  If a band is popular enough to have their music played on the radio, chances are it’s already overplayed.  Let’s not drive consumers to change the channels with poor music choice.  Let’s showcase those musicians with great talent that will never be heard on the radio, so when we do hear them on a commercial the last thing we want to do is change the channel.


Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

One comment

  1. When ads use pop tunes, the advertiser loses the opportunity to create their own long lasting ear worm. 10 years from now, you will still remember ‘5 dollar Foot Longs….: and think Subway, but ‘Hey Soul Sister’ will only be remembered for what it is. Creative departments need to create again and give their clients the exclusive equity they deserve.

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