The Psychology Behind Music Choice in Advertisements


Advertising is an ever-evolving art form. Brands and companies strive to create advertisements that not only inform about their products or services but also connect with the audience on an emotional level. Among the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal, the choice of music holds a prominent place. Music can evoke emotions, trigger memories, and establish a profound connection with viewers. Behind every musical note in an advertisement, there is a careful consideration of how it will impact the minds and hearts of the audience. In this article, we will delve into the psychology driving this musical choice and how it affects a brand’s perception and its products.

Music as a Universal Language

Music is a universal language. No matter where you’re from or what language you speak, a touching melody can touch your emotions without the need for words. It’s this universality that makes it such a powerful advertising tool. But how does music influence people’s emotions and decisions?

Emotion and Memory

Music has the unique ability to evoke emotions and memories. This is because of how the brain processes music. When we hear a song we like, the brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. At the same time, music can activate brain areas related to memory. This combination of pleasure and memories can create a lasting emotional experience.

Imagine a TV commercial showing a happy family enjoying a beach vacation. The choice of a cheerful and catchy song as the soundtrack can make viewers associate those positive emotions with the product or service being advertised.

Music and the Atmosphere of the Ad

Music can also set the overall atmosphere of an advertisement. Should it be exciting, relaxing, mysterious, or inspirational? The musical choice can determine the ad’s tone. For instance, a piece of classical music can add a touch of elegance and sophistication, while an energetic rock song can infuse energy and excitement.

In an advertisement for sports cars, a soundtrack filled with adrenaline can intensify the sense of speed and excitement. In contrast, a luxury spa advertisement might opt for soft and soothing music to convey a sense of tranquility.

Music as an Emotional Narrative

Music can also function as an emotional narrative on its own. Instead of merely accompanying the visuals, it can tell an emotional story independently. This musical narrative can be especially powerful in ads aiming to deeply connect with viewers.

For example, an ad telling the story of an athlete overcoming adversity can use a soundtrack that follows that narrative. It might start with melancholic music to represent the initial challenges, then gradually build in intensity as the athlete progresses towards success, conveying a sense of triumph and determination.

How Advertisers Choose Music

The choice of music in advertising is not a random process. Marketers work closely with composers, music producers, and marketing experts to select the right music. Several factors influence this choice:

Target Audience

The first step in music selection is understanding the target audience. Who are the consumers the ad is addressing? What music resonates with them and evokes relevant emotions? If it’s an ad aimed at young electronic music enthusiasts, the musical choice will be very different from an ad targeted at an older audience interested in classical music.

Message and Tone of the Ad

The message to be conveyed and the overall tone of the ad are crucial factors. Is the ad humorous, emotional, serious, or inspiring? The music should complement and enhance this message. For instance, a humorous ad might use a playful and cheerful melody to emphasize the fun, while a serious ad addressing a weighty topic might opt for more solemn music.

Brand Values

The musical choice must also align with the brand’s values and image. If a brand is associated with youthfulness and innovation, the music should reflect those values. In contrast, a luxury brand might choose music that conveys sophistication and exclusivity.

Narrative and Synchronization

Synchronizing music with the visuals and narrative of the ad is essential. The music should flow naturally with the action and message. Changes in the music’s tempo can be used to highlight key moments in the ad and maintain viewer interest.

Success and Notable Examples

The right musical choice can propel an ad to stardom. Let’s look at some notable examples:

Apple and the “Get a Mac” Campaign

Apple is known for its creativity in advertising, and the “Get a Mac” campaign was no exception. Each ad pitted “Mac” (representing a Mac computer) against “PC” (representing a Windows computer). Music played a crucial role in each ad. Mac was accompanied by cheerful and modern music, highlighting the simplicity and elegance of Macs. On the other hand, PC was paired with more serious music, underscoring the perception of PC complexity.

Coca-Cola and the Song “Hilltop”

One of Coca-Cola’s most iconic ads featured a diverse group of young people singing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” This song not only created a sense of unity and harmony but also became a chart-topping hit. The music helped position Coca-Cola as a beverage that promoted friendship and peace during a time of social and political unrest.


Music in advertising is much more than mere accompaniment; it is a powerful tool that can influence our emotions, memories, and decisions. Marketers dedicate considerable time and resources to selecting the right music that resonates with their audience and conveys the brand’s message and values. As advertising continues to evolve, music will continue to play a crucial role in how brands connect with consumers and create emotional impact. The next time you see an ad that makes you feel something special, pay attention to the music accompanying it; it’s likely been chosen carefully to achieve that effect. After all, music is the language of the heart.

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