We have celebrated Team USA medals across a range of sports and margins of victory during the Olympics. Some Olympians were household names before they won, some will be in our homes for weeks to come thanks to Special K cereal boxes.
I have noticed that most of the medal winners were born well after the cover songs used in so many Olympic spots were released. One of the first spots to grab my attention used a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” This song has been covered by several pop stars and has been used in many ad campaigns since its release in 1986, the year Michael Phelps turned one.
“True Colors” is today being used by Nestle. According to iSpot.tv, it has run 155 times in the last 30 days in ads for Dreyer’s Ice Cream, which feature celebrations among real families.
Another spot with an 1980s cover that caught my ear was for Honda Summer Clearance, using an a capella cover of the Go Go’s “Head over Heels”. This is a song from 1984, thirteen years before Katie Ledecky and Lilly King were born. Honda’s summer campaign is music-themed, and this spot is one of many that are part of a larger music initiative.
The fourth most aired commercial of the last month, according to iSpotv.com, is Walmart’s empowering first day of school message featuring Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”. Not a cover, but still a song from a while back: American Beach Volleyball players Kerri Walsh and April Ross were 5 and 2, respectively, when this song came out.
Why all these songs from the 1980s? The sweet spot of the Olympics viewing audience, 25 to 54 year olds, have emotional connections to them. Studies have shown that the emotional message of lyrics drive increased advertising impact and recall, make viewers take notice, and have target customers feel more favorably about the content connected to these memories.
A fit between an ad’s melody and the message it promotes is key, and the Walmart spot is an example of a job well done. It features kids mourning the end of summer and getting ready to go back to school. They get their clothes and supplies laid out and are ready to take on a new year. It’s not the first time they have done this, hence the tagline “Own the First Day”.
Set to the lyrics “Here I Go Again”, Walmart successfully aligns parents’ memories from the 80s with a peppy song, and the need to get kids the right gear in order to own their first day. Walmart creates a positive association between its brand and a well-loved and catchy tune from the Olympic viewer’s past.
Coca-Cola is thought of as the pioneer of using original music in advertising, as we reported a few weeks ago, with their 1971 campaign featuring ‘I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing’. Music licensing costs began to fall in the 1980s, and soon after, popular music began to find its way into broadcast ads. Today it is estimated that 90% of ads are set to music. Ads using songs from a different era create positive memories and influence purchasing behavior.
For best use of a song in an ad that ran during the Olympics, I award the gold to Kodak’s Kodacolor gold film in the 1998 Olympics.
“Capture all the gold in our future on Kodacolor Gold Film,” a John Facenda-like baritone says over slow motion footage of kids performing Olympic sports. Gosh Kodak did some good work back in the day.