Type: ColumnsCategory: POVOptions: Stephen Arnold Music's founder selects the best Super Bowl ads ever for sonic branding.
February 08, 2013, Stephen Arnold --- Let's do a little musical math, shall we?
everyone is aware, Super Bowl XLVII ad time was expensive: this past Sunday, CBS
got $3.8 million from their sponsors for :30 of airtime, meaning each second
equals a cool $126,667. If a composer created a 120 BPM score for that ad, the
cost-per-quarter-note (along with everything else going on) is $63,333.50. That
means the average four-note sonic logo is part of a package worth
Get the picture? In a TV arena where
everything is maximally magnified, the choice of music and sound for a Super
Bowl ad really counts. The thought that goes into sonic branding--whether it
comes from original music, sound design, and/or a licensed track-–is
high-stakes, and it has got to do its job: reinforcing messaging and memory
A common thread among virtually all of the
Super Bowl ads voted "most memorable" is the application of a strong sonic
brand. Advertising agencies and their clients labor all year to ensure their
spot cuts through the clutter. To be forgotten soon afterwards is a failure. A
great ad (and the occasional in-stadium power failure) will not only live on for
weeks afterwards at the water cooler, but garner millions more views, for years,
branding done right demands attention--viewers taking a momentary break from the
game will swivel their heads right back when they hear something intriguing,
surprising, or beautifully familiar. Sound, more than picture, has the power to
draw Super Bowl partygoers back to the screen and re-activate their
Ultimately, the top spots are the ones
with a magical mix of three components: story, visuals and sound. On Super Bowl
Sunday, where every quarter note represents a big investment, nailing down that
sound means so much. It just might be the reason that millions of people
remember your brand clear to next February–-and for decades to come.
Here's our list of the All Time Top Five Super Bowl
spots by sonic branding success, including the best spot from this year's big
game--we like to think of them as "Super Sonics":
1) Coca Cola's "Mean Joe Green"--Super Bowl XIII, 1979 (http://youtu.be/xffOCZYX6F8
). Mean Joe
Greene accepts a cool bottle from a kid, "Have a Coke and a Smile" kicks in, and
Super Bowl sonic branding history was made forever. The positive associations
from this ad endured for generations, as evidenced by the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII
remake for Coke Zero featuring Troy Polamalu http://youtu.be/sjII6F-nJBQ
2) Chrysler's "Born of Fire"--Super Bowl XLV, 2011
darkly tense hip hop track "Lose Yourself" captured the soul of the city, and
perfectly reflected the spot's visual imagery. This emotion-stirring
"Imported from Detroit" commercial starring Detroit rapper Eminem inspired
people to talk about Detroit -- and Chrysler by extension.
3) Budweiser's "Frogs"–-Super Bowl, XXIV, 1995 http://youtu.be/WkavReH4LE0
. Talk about a
watercooler classic – the three frogs croaking "Bud…" "Weis…" "Er" strongly
associated an innovative sound design with this iconic American brand. It was
funny, and gave the world something they could gladly croak along to.
4) Volkswagen--Super Bowl XLV, 2011 http://youtu.be/R55e-uHQna0
. A pint-sized
Darth Vader used the Force when he discovered the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat
in the driveway. The essential use of John Williams' classic motif from the Star
Wars franchise is a huge part of why this ad remains strong in people's minds,
two years later.
Bowl XLVII, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs
The mega-brewer returns with "Brotherhood", the tale of a trainer reunited with
a beloved Clydesdale. Fleetwood Mac's emotional "Landslide" was the perfect
backing track – its oft-covered status makes it a song choice that spans time.
Will people think of Budweiser now when they hear it on the air? We're betting
Stephen Arnold is founder of Stephen Arnold Music,