Finding the Right Note:

The Role of Music in Advertising

When it comes to the effects of music on humans, we have only begun to scratch the surface. Neuroscientists are making new discoveries each year that shed more light on both the physical and mental impact of music. Some recent studies have even shown how music heightens positive emotions to the point that it stimulates hits of dopamine making us feel good or even elated.  From reducing stress to relieving pain to boosting learning and memory, music is indeed a powerful force.

The Science Behind Music


Integral to Culture

The interconnection of music with society has been seen throughout history. Every known culture on Earth has music. It is an integral part of life, not least of all for Latinos. Just do a quick search of “Latin music” on Wikipedia, and you’ll get an extensive list of over 80 subgenres! Bachata, Mambo, Salsa, Reggaeton… and the list goes on! Despite its many forms and rhythms, music unites people. For Latinos, it is considered a bond that brings generations together.


Creating an Emotional Connection

When it comes to advertising, music is equally impactful. A study conducted by Nielsen last year highlighted that commercials which include some form of music performed better than ads with no music across four key metrics – creativity, empathy, emotive power and information power.

The results go on to explain that music in advertising has varying effects, which must be carefully matched with the style of the ads. For example, popular songs were shown to invoke emotional responses while other genres are more effective when messages are focused primarily on price and promotions. Interestingly, the study also found that generic background music helps trigger memory and is well suited for improving information power.

No doubt there is a very delicate balance of matching the right music with the right message and the right audience. Eric Sheinkop, President & CEO of Music Dealers and co-author of Hit Brands: How Music Builds Value for the World’s Smartest Brands, warns against brands selecting music by “thinking like fans” and not pairing the right artist with the right product but rather using their personal favorite pop personality who may not adequately represent their consumers or the brand personality and values. However, the right music can make the visuals more valuable and the product seemingly more meaningful.

A perfect example of this can be experienced in an ad for the Spanish Christmas Lottery released this past November. To me it is the music (which surprisingly was added just before its release) that takes this nice story and makes it truly memorable. The music creates an emotional connection that otherwise would be lost. Ok, full disclosure…I cried.

In order for music to work to its fullest potential in advertising, marketers must not only have a deep understanding of their audience, but also a clear objective in mind with the desired role the music should play. For guidance on how to effectively connect music in advertising with your growing multicultural audience, check this article on the importance of radio for Hispanics or reach out to the strategic pros at Dieste Inc., a multicultural agency in Dallas, TX.