Erkki Pekkilä: "Connotative Meanings and Advertising Music" (2/11)


Of course we need to be careful with these kinds of generalisations. In small countries like Finland, commercials are produced on such a small scale that is more or less contingent what kind of music is used in a given ad. But in large economies like the United States, where TV advertising has a long tradition and the business activities are massive as compared to any country, the techniques of use of advertising music are probably mastered well Huron (1989), for instance, believes that for economic reasons, such as competition, there is an evolution of techniques that has taken place in the development of advertising music. Since commercials have been produced for several decades, during this time different means have been tested in a severe economic competition. Thus the least effective means have, little by little, been weeded out, and what has been left is a collection of the most effective devices that can communicate meanings intimately reflecting the society in various social contexts.

It is not too difficult to accept this idea as we examine the scale on which American television commercials are produced. In 1977 some $80,000 to $100,000 were spent per commercial, on average. As the running of the commercial may cost some $100,000 each time, and the commercial is shown some 60 times, we can figure out that is a question of enormous sums of money. The solid economical basis is probably the reason for the fact that the production of music also takes places on a large scale. When for instance a country-style singer was needed for a Pepsi commercial, a suitable person was looked upon in auditions organised in local country music clubs. Out of some 75 applicants only one was chosen and all the pains taken were only for a 30-second commercial(Young and Young 1977).

The Chewing-Gum Commercial

In the next section I will briefly discuss the qualities of an advertising musical piece using a typical American commercial that has probably gone through the filtration process mentioned by Huron. It is a Wrigley's chewing-gum ad which has been shown both in the United States and Finland, probably among other countries, based on a "jingle," a tune that is peculiar to the commercial. There are at least three different versions of this particular advertisement, under which there is a single common jingle. In the following section I will discuss one of these versions. Although my aim is not to generalise on the basis of this single advertisement, I intend to use it to exemplify some things; one has to state that the commercial is a typical one in its structure. There are plenty of international commercials made on the same pattern.

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AS/SA Nº 4, Article 6 : Page 2 / 11

© 1998, AS/SA

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