Numbers > Number 18 > Approaching to the effectiveness of music in advertising: audio branding and brand recall
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JIMÉNEZ-MARÍN, Gloria Profesor Investigador Contact
BELLIDO-PÉREZ, Elena Profesor Investigador Contact
RUDA, Cristina Profesor Investigador Contact

Approaching to the effectiveness of music in advertising: audio branding and brand recall

19 de noviembre de 2020
3 de diciembre de 2020Gi


When choosing music for television commercials, advertising professionals are conditioned by a series of factors, such as the objectives of the advertising campaign: remembrance, recognition, notoriety, sales, etc. This article carries out a study of the music used in advertising and its effects, seeking to identify the qualities of the musical themes used in advertising that influen- ce the audience and to know the most effective type of music to achieve the campaign objectives. For this purpose, a quantitative methodology was used, consisting of a combination of questions and audios relating these issues, ai- med at an audience of between 18 and 60 years of age. A total of 12 adverts were analysed in the article. The results of the study confirm that the use of pre-existing music favours the memory of the ad over the use of jingles.

1. Introduction

The advantages of using music in advertising are undeniable. As early as 1982, Gorn found that when well-known and generally liked music was used, product preference increased (1982). Although Kellaris & Cox (1989) later replicated the experiment and found no evidence of a relationship between music and product preference, more re- cent work by Vermeulen & Beukeboom concluded that such a relationship did exist, “but only weakly, and under fairly specific circumstances” (2015, p. 59). This proven link, together with the evolution of companies to continue competing in an exponentially growing market, means that more and more brands are choosing to integrate music into their marketing strategies, despite the complexities involved.

The relevance of music in advertising has been addressed both in recent works (An- glada-Tort, et al., 2020; Rubio-Romero, Perlado-Lamo de Espinosa & Ramos-Rodriguez, 2019; Palencia-Lefler, 2017; Lantos & Craton, 2012) and in more classical ones (Hecker, 1984; Scott, 1990). In this case, an experimental study is carried out on a sample of the Andalusian population in order to test the effectiveness for brand recall of the use of music in different spots and brands.

The main objective of this paper is to investigate and learn as much as possible about the real relevance and importance of music at the corporate level, as an organisational communication tool, as part of its advertising and media strategy. To this end, firstly, the sense of hearing is examined more broadly, to observe how it works on its own and together with the other senses. Secondly, the typologies of music in advertising are stu- died, and finally, an experimental study is conducted to test the effectiveness of using music as a corporate identity tool, as Abolhasani, Oakes & Oakes (2017) state in their research. This study aims to answer the following research questions:

PI1: What is the recall rate of the jingles?

PI2: What is the recall rate of pre-existing music?

PI3: How successful are jingles in terms of product and brand recognition?

PI4: How successful is pre-existing music in terms of product and brand recognition?

PI5: Do more jingles or pre-existing music transcend?


2. State of play: Audio branding and communicative effectiveness

Audio branding is defined by Piñeiro-Otero as “the set of sounds that support the communication of a brand and organisation” (2015, p. 677). Within these sounds, Allan (2015) includes the audio-logo, jingles, the brand song, corporate voices, the sound icon, brand landscapes and the corporate theme. In short, it is about delivering a corporate identity through the ear. In this way, we will now consider the place of audio bran- ding within sensory marketing, and its relationship with advertising.

2.1. The auditory sense and sound marketing

Sensory marketing focuses on the effect of stimulating the senses on consumer behaviour in order to increase consumption and sales (Avendaño, Paz & Rueda, 2015; Jiménez-Marín, Bellido-Pérez & López-Cortés, 2019). Marketing of the senses, targeting sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, has become an instrument capable of reaching the subconscious of consumers. In this sense, Díez (2013) states that the transmission of sensory information occurs jointly, i.e., nodes are created that form networks between them, which allows experiences to be remembered by directly relating them to certain sounds, aromas, textures, etc. In this way, an experimental relationship with the subconscious is achieved, coordinating sensations and memories. In line with the above, Barrios (2012) argues that marketing of the senses emphasises the experiences of consumers, involving their feelings during the product acquisition process. These experiences translate into emotions, i.e. cognitive behaviours and behaviours in line with their impulses, evading reason.

Prior to all this process, there is a basic concept: perception, which is an indispensable component when referring to sensory marketing. Arellano, Rivera & Molero (2000) explain that, when we perceive a reality, what we are doing is selecting, organising and interpreting. Although perception is different in each person, it could not occur without sensory impact, hence the initial importance of sensory marketing. And, in this line, Krishna (2012) makes a distinction between sensation and perception, noting that sensation is explained when a pre-existing stimulus makes contact with the receptive cells of a sensory organ, while perception goes one step further, introducing the concept of understanding and coding, i.e. perception involves the knowledge of sensory information.

The sense of hearing is closely linked to emotions and feelings, which makes it one of the most important and useful in marketing, as it is the second most used sense by brands, after sight. According to Avello, Gavilán & Abril (2011, p. 42), “the sense of hearing, like the sense of smell, cannot be controlled voluntarily, both are always active, so they become very powerful commercial means both consciously and unconsciously”.

Sound marketing is often used to strengthen brand identity, but also to increase the purchase of products at the point of sale, influencing the purchasing process. Music is a fundamental tool to achieve objectives thanks to the shopping environment (Jiménez-Marín, 2016): on the one hand, slow music helps to relax, which increases the time spent shopping by making purchases in a calmer and more meditative way, thus increasing the chances of consumption; on the other hand, fast and agitated music causes the activation of consumers, which makes the time spent in the establishment shorter, but the purchase more efficient.

The musical elements to be taken into account for optimal sound marketing are the following (Bruner, 1990): time, which incorporates factors such as rhythm, speed and duration; pitch, which will determine the mood, melody and harmony of the work; and texture, created through volume, instrumentation and timbre. The appropriate use of this set of elements makes it possible to achieve different objectives; for example, classical music provokes a feeling of higher quality in a product (Areni & Kim, 1993). Likewise, as Avello, Gavilán & Abril (2011) argue, sound marketing is not only composed of music, but also of voice and any other sound perception. In this sense, Rieunier (2002) states that among the sound factors that form part of the components of the atmosphere are both music and noise.

2.2. Music and advertising

In order to address the relationship between music and advertising, it is first necessary to define the notion of musical setting, which according to Guijarro & Muela (2003, p. 85) would be “the task of adding music to an idea, a script, an aesthetic or a story for cinema, television, for any media in general and, of course, for advertising”. In other words, the musical setting is not an arbitrary decision, but is based on previous information that has been given to us, such as a briefing in the case of advertising. Music is, in the same way, a very effective tool in terms of brand recall and recognition (Idrovo-Zambrano, 2017). Therefore, the music selection process, from the genre of music, the character of the piece, the emotions to be transmitted, etc., must be in line with this previous information in order to continue with the desired strategy and, above all, to achieve the objectives set (Ruth & Spangardt, 2017). Along these lines, according to studies by Gorn (1982) and Olsen (1995), the recall effect can influence the preference of a brand advertised with music over another without music, as it increases the attractiveness and reinforces the willingness to retain the product, the brand (Calderón, 2015). Music is therefore a very powerful tool that not only increases the recall effect of an advertisement, but also influences perception by increasing the attractiveness of brands.

Generally, the music used for advertising is based on two main types: original music and pre-existing music. Bassat (1993) stated that more than 70% of television and radio advertisements in Spain use music of one of these two forms.

If pre-existing music is used, it is essential that there is congruence between the cho- sen theme and the brand (Taylor, 2012). But, in any case, both for original and pre-existing music, the role of the composer is very important, who must meet very demanding.


3. Methodology

A quantitative methodology was used for the development of this research, given that it was necessary to test or measure to what degree certain qualities, related to the effects of music used in advertising, influence the audience. In order to do this, it is necessary to examine the data obtained numerically, in order to be able to draw objective conclusions.

Accordingly, a survey of an average duration of ten minutes has been developed, consisting of a combination of questions and audios related to these issues. Firstly, after an introduction, which indicates what it consists of, the approximate duration, how it is going to be developed, and where the guarantee of privacy and anonymity is stated, the survey begins with three questions referring to the contextualisation of the respondent: sex, age and level of studies. This is followed by three other questions related to the consumption of hours of television, the influence of advertising in general and of music in advertising.

Once this has been completed, the experimental study itself begins, consisting of a set of twelve audios with their respective questions. The audios are fragments of several seconds of advertisements broadcast on television, from the arrival of television in Spain to the present day. The audios were selected considering that some had lower levels of difficulty and others higher in terms of recognition, with the intention that, on the one hand, the respondent would have enough time to complete the questionnaire; and, on the other hand, that he/she would feel fulfilled by knowing the melody, encouraging him/ her to continue. In addition, half of the selected ads make use of audio branding and the other half are simply brands that have included music prominently in that particular spot. The questions that follow each audio are similar for each of them. They are based on the recognition of the brand or product advertised, and the actions taken subsequently upon hearing it on TV, such as singing or humming along, listening to the song of one’s own volition, buying or downloading the audio and/or sharing it with third parties.

3.1. Materials and method of development

The audios and brands selected are as follows, in the same order:

1. CONGUITOS. The advert dates from 1994 and is characterised by the fact that the Conguitos are personified by figures such as Tina Turner and Steve Wonder. It uses a jingle created specifically for the brand, which, respecting the melody, has been introduced in its adverts on several occasions, although the lyrics are slightly modified depending on the moment. Although the best-known musical fragment is the beginning:
“Somos los conguitos y estamos requetebién…” it has not been used, as it named the brand, so the later fragment has been selected, which corresponds to the same melody: “Somos redonditos y siempre vamos a cien…”. This advert has been placed in first place with the intention of capturing and keeping the respondents, as it was expected to be easy to recognise by all audiences, but especially by the more adult ones. 134


2. MINISTRY OF TOURISM OF ANDALUSIA. The second audio belongs to the Junta de Andalucía with the tourist campaign “Andalucía te quiere” (Andalusia loves you) which was carried out in 2004. The music used is the song “Ahí estás tú”, original by the group Chambao.

3. ORANGE. The ad is part of the “Love” campaign, whose concept says that the most important thing is to bring people closer to what matters most to them. The cam- paign, which is still running, started in 2016 and features the legendary song “All you need is love” by The Beatles.

4. LIGHT TUNA BALD TUNA. The fourth audio corresponds to the brand Atún cla- ro Calvo and its famous campaign broadcast in July 2007, “Sacatún”. The song used is characterised by its similarity to tongue twisters, making it a great challenge for the audience to sing the advert correctly from start to finish. It was a version of a song by Chimo Bayo, and became a hit, reaching almost 200,000 views on YouTube in Septem- ber 2007, which is a large number of views in relation to the year in which it happened. It was also one of the most downloaded ringtones for mobile phones that summer (Re- vista Anuncios, 2007).

5. THE ALMOND TREE. The brand has been using the same song in its Christmas campaigns since 1980. The theme alludes to the importance of returning home and getting together with the family on these special dates. They play with the idea that El Almendro and its turrones are also part of these families and that is why they come back every Christmas.

6. PIPAS G. The sixth audio is from the Pipas G brand, specifically from the “Solo pasa con Pipas G” campaign aired in 2017. It features a series of personified pipes singing certain attributes of the brand to the rhythm of reggaeton. It turned out to be the most viewed ad on YouTube in February of that year, according to El Publicista maga- zine (2017).

7. GILLETTE VENUS. Every summer, this brand includes the song “Venus” in its advertisements for women’s razor Blades; in this case, we have used the advertisement aired in 2001. Although the song is sometimes covered by different artists, the most frequently used version is the one performed by the band Bananarama in 1988.

8. COLA CAO. This audio corresponds to the famous Cola Cao advert, from the campaign “Yo soy aquel negrito”, first broadcast in 1955. The advert, in cartoon format, is developed through an African who is dedicated to growing cocoa and tells how beneficial it is. The jingle, so recognised by Spaniards, is nowadays widely criticised as racist (Molinero, 2017).

9. EL CORTE INGLÉS. For the autumn 2016 campaign, it used the song “Come”, an original by the French singer Jain. The song became known among the Spanish population thanks to the advert and went completely viral. Its video clip reached huge numbers in a very short time (Ideal, 2016). The advert consists of young women dressed in the brand’s clothes and performing a series of coordinated dances. Among these young women, the model Coco Rocha stands out.

10. CHICFY. For the following ad, Chicfy has been chosen and the spot it aired in 2016 known for the expression “Claro que sí, guapi”. The ad went viral, and although the song was composed just for the spot, after its success, its creator IKKI and the performer Ms Nina, took the project further, launching a video clip on YouTube, and introducing the song on the Spotify platform, where it reached number one (Tentaciones, 2016). The campaign marked a before and after for the brand.

11. LACASITOS. The advert dates from 1986 and used an old song by Ross Bagdasarian, called “Witch doctor”, which, in a version sung by a group of children while playing, would be ideal for transmitting the brand’s values to its audience. Its current advertisements follow the same line and use the same song, albeit with adaptations.

12. COCA COLA. The latest audio is from Coca Cola and their global campaign “Taste the Feeling”. The Coca Cola team themselves state how important music is to the company and that they have always used it to create an emotional connection between consumers and the brand. For this campaign, they decided to create an anthem-like song that would reflect the consumer’s experience of drinking the product. It was com- posed and produced by Avicii in collaboration with singer Conrad Sewell, titling the song in the same way as the campaign: “Taste the Feeling”.

The survey was aimed at the Andalusian population in a position to consume television, aged between 18 and 60, with any level of education. The reason why only Andalusians were selected is due, firstly, to the fact that television in Spain has a short his- tory, and that for many years only national and regional public channels were present, so that if the survey were disseminated to more communities, it is possible that those surveyed would not have shared the same advertisements. Moreover, as we have seen, one of the advertisements included corresponds to the Andalusian Ministry of Tourism, and was broadcast, above all, on the regional channels, then called “Canal Sur TV” and “Canal Sur 2 Andalucía”.

The reasons why the age of the respondents has been limited in this way are, firstly, that people under the age of 18 may have a very limited view of advertising, in relation to the years of television broadcasting in Spain; secondly, people over the age of 60 tend not to have much connection with new technologies, and are more likely to have a conservative mentality, which perhaps does not fit in with some of the products selected for the survey. The level of education is not relevant to us at first, although it was decided to include it in the questionnaire in order to later check whether there is any relationship in terms of hours of television viewing and product recognition.

Finally, the survey was conducted among 150 people, and was carried out both in per- son and via the online platform, which allowed the inclusion of audios free of charge, unlike other more well-known digital platforms.

4. Results

The questionnaire was completed by 150 people, of whom 72 were men and 78 wo- men. In order to visualise the age of the participants, a separate classification by sex and by different age intervals was drawn up (Table 2). We can see that, although men and women of all ages participated, the age range between 18 and 29 years old stands out from the rest, especially among women. The average number of hours spent watching television in the sample is 2.5 hours, with 2 hours being the most repeated answer, a total of 44 times. The person who wat- ches the most television answered 9 hours and the person who watches the least, 0. On the other hand, before starting with audio recognition, respondents were asked whether they considered that advertising that uses music as a prominent element allows for better recall of the advertising. 100% of respondents indicated that it does.

The most remembered audios, with 100% recall, are the one belonging to the Andalusian Regional Government’s Department of Tourism, i.e. the song by Chambao, and the one related to El Almendro nougat, i.e. the jingle “come home for Christmas”. Also noteworthy for their recall rate are the Orange and Venus audios by Gillette, both with an already well-known and successful previous song: “All you need is love” by the Beat- les and “Venus” by Bananarama. On the other hand, the least remembered audios are those of Conguitos and Pipas G. As the sample is mostly young, as indicated above, it is not surprising that the 1994 song by Conguitos is the least recognised, although it is striking that the Pipas G audio is the least recognised of all those shown, as the target audience of this brand belongs to the majority age group in the sample.

Cola Cao, El Almendro and Turismo de Andalucía are the most recognised product categories, with respondents indicating respectively: soft drinks, turrones and institutional campaigns to promote tourism. The least recognised products are Venus by Gillette, El Corte Inglés and Coca-Cola. In these three cases, the number of respondents who do not recognise the product type slightly exceeds those who do.

The total average number of advertisements in which the product has been recognised is 8 out of a total of 12, while the average number of brands identified is 6, which is half of them. If we focus on the oldest ads, such as Conguitos, El Almendro, Cola Cao and Lacasitos, we can see that, on the one hand, all except Conguitos have very high product recognition figures. In the cases of Lacasitos and Cola Cao, the product and brand numbers are fully maintained. Lacasitos continues to use the song version in similar commercials after many years, so it can be stated that it is a quite clear case of audio branding. The Cola Cao jingle, on the other hand, has not been used on subsequent occasions, also due to its current negative connotations. In the case of Conguitos, higher brand recognition figures were expected, as it has continued to use the same jingle over the years. The most striking was El Almendro, one of the most recognised products in terms of nougat, but which has dropped significantly in brand recognition, as many respondents pointed to other nougat brands such as Suchard. This is particularly striking because this jingle is an example of audio branding with a long history, where the benefits of this tool should be evident.

Continuing with the other examples, we focus on Orange and Coca-Cola, brands that do not use jingles, which makes the effectiveness of the tool more complicated, but offers, at the same time, many more benefits in terms of transmitting values. In the case of Orange, it has dropped 40 points in brand identification compared to that of the product. Coca-Cola did not have high brand recognition figures either, although it is worth mentioning that 100% of respondents who got the product right also recognised the brand, which is also the case for Lacasitos and Cola Cao, indicating strong brand positioning.

Venus by Gillette, on the other hand, despite its history of using audio branding, was one of the least recognised brands; specifically, it was the least recognised of the group shown. In any case, it is striking in this product, whose target is clearly women, that of the 48 people who named the brand appropriately, half were men and half were women. As for El Corte Inglés and La Consejería de Turismo de Andalucía, both also made use of pre-existing music, but obtained disparate results: while Turismo de Andalucía is the second most remembered brand (after Cola Cao), El Corte Inglés is one of the least identified brands.

Finally, we mention Atún Calvo, Pipas G and Chicfy, brands that have created jingles for their advertisements. All three brands have had a high number of product recognition (84 for Atún Claro Calvo, 80 for Pipas G and 104 for Chicfy), but have declined in brand identification.

Looking at the demographic variables (Table 4), in product recognition, women stand out, although not by much, but in brand identification, both sexes have an average of 6 brands correct. According to age, those who most often got the product and brand right were those in the 18–29 age group, followed by those aged 40–49; thirdly, those in the 30–39 age group, and lastly, the average number of correct guesses was found among the oldest participants. Regarding the studies, in the two highest levels the average number of correct answers is higher than the rest, and in the lowest level we find the lowest number of recognitions. However, in the rest of the levels, the figures are quite varied, so it could be said that the level of education is not significant in this case for product or brand recognition.

The most sung song is the El Almendro advertisement, followed by Turismo de Andalucía and the Cola Cao song. The song that respondents most admitted to having listened to voluntarily was the Andalusian Tourism song, which was 24 points above the next most popular: the El Corte Inglés song. The latter, “Come” by Jain, was also the most purchased or downloaded of the audio selection. Pipas G’s song is the one that has been sung the least according to the sample. In fact, 88 people out of 150 respondents said they had never interacted with the song.

5. Conclusions

In response to the research questions posed at the beginning, the jingles (Conguitos, El Almendro, Pipas G, Cola-Cao and Chicfy) have a recall rate of 78.13% among the surveyed population (PI1), compared to 90.47% for pre-existing music (Turismo de Andalucía, Orange, Atún Claro Calvo, Gillette, El Corte Inglés, Lacasitos and Coca-Cola) (PI2). In other words, according to the study, the use of pre-existing music favours ad recall more than the use of jingles. However, the success rate of jingles in product and brand recognition (PI3) is slightly higher, 60.66%, than the success rate of pre-existing music in product and brand recognition (PI4): 54.4%. Finally, regarding the last research question, it can be stated that jingles transcend more than pre-existing music (PI5), al- though with a minimal difference: 32.53% of respondents did not take any action related to the jingle played, and 1.18% more respondents did not take any action related to the pre-existing music played.

The way music is consumed has changed a lot in recent years. The new streaming

platforms mean that, in very short periods of time, songs can reach large numbers of plays. People can access music whenever they want without having to pay for it. In the same way, users can view the advertisements they like whenever they want. In the sur- vey results, we could see that in all the advertisements displayed, a significant number of people had listened to the audio on a voluntary basis. This means that the new media that digital platforms have provided us with still have a lot to exploit, above all, thanks to the fact that the protagonist of these platforms is multimedia content.

Continuing with the advertising strategy, we are used to advertisements including mu- sic, but most of them do so only as a support for the image. This continuous emphasis on visuals means that when the weight of the communication falls on another element, it stands out more. Moreover, the dimensions of music are much broader than those of the image; after all, the image is concrete, it can be described. However, despite the importance of music, it is also interesting to know that, if it is used with silence and effects in mind, the results can be even better.

Finally, music must be mentioned at the corporate level. As has been observed, if deciding on a specific music for a specific advertisement is a complex task, it is much more complex to create or find a soundtrack that contributes the same values as the company so that it is completely in tune, and that functions as another element of identification. Rubio-Romero, Perlado-Lamo de Espinosa & Ramos-Rodríguez (2019) have already positioned themselves along these lines when analysing music in advertising that at- tracts (as opposed to that which does not attract). On the contrary, audio-branding has the disadvantage that, in order to obtain significant results, it needs time for people to associate the music with the brand, to generate recall (or, failing that, recognition), but, above all, what can play against it the most is that a clear strategy has not been plan- ned, which ultimately confuses the consumer.

6. Key ideas (Highlights)

The sense of hearing is closely linked to emotions and feelings, which makes it one of the most important and useful senses in marketing.

Sound marketing is often used to strengthen brand identity.

The musical elements to be taken into account for optimal sound marketing are: tempo, pitch and texture.

Sense marketing emphasises consumers’ experiences, involving their feelings during the product purchase process.

The way music is consumed has changed a lot in recent years. The new streaming platforms mean that, in very short periods of time, songs can reach significant numbers of plays.

Audio-branding has the disadvantage that it takes time for people to associate the music with the brand, to generate recall (or, failing that, recognition), in order to achieve significant results.

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