Tips for Using Music in International Marketing Campaigns

Tips for Using Music in International Marketing Campaigns

Music has always played an important role in society. Just take a look back at the rock ‘n’ roll years of the ‘50s, not to mention the swinging ‘60s when a certain band called The Beatles shot to prominence.

We still love music today – perhaps even more so – and new technologies in the digital and mobile space have made it easier to listen to the latest releases, no matter whereabouts in the world we are.

Marketing and music go hand in hand. Pop stars are now global icons, worshiped by millions of people worldwide. Fans actively create living communities on music on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, while Spotify – the most recent site to burst on the scene – is also playing a big role.

Brands are therefore increasingly approaching these superstars in a bid to help sell their products and services. But what should you consider when selecting music for international marketing campaigns?

Here we discuss the relationship between marketing and music, which for the record is constantly evolving in tandem with society, and take a look at examples of brands making music part of their DNA.

More than just a track

Licensing popular songs for advertisements has happened for years. Who remembers Coca-Cola’s ‘Hilltop’ commercial in the ‘70s? If you don’t, we suggest you look it up as one that’s gone down in advertising history:

But the connection between brands and music goes way beyond a catchy track – as demonstrated by the following companies who are going a step further when it comes to advertising campaigns and music.


Music has become an important part of the fashion brand’s marketing efforts since the early 2000s.

One of its biggest – and most successful – music initiatives to date has been Burberry Acoustic, something which highlights the work of emerging British talents through a series of stylish online videos. The artists are kitted out in Burberry clothing but the spotlight is directly on them and their work.

Burberry has also created a dedicated, full-time music team to deal with this side of its advertising.


Oreo – yes, those tasty cookies – is another brand that has used music to get its message across. But instead of simply licensing a popular track, it decided to the whole nine yards and created a hit of its own.

The ‘Wonderfilled’ anthem became the backbone of the Mondelez brand’s first major campaign out of the shop – and it proved to be a major hit, thanks in part to the expertise of Owl City, aka singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Adam Young.

Subsequent spots featured freestyle rapper Chiddybang and singer Kacey Musgraves.

Red Bull

Red Bull considers music an important part of its identity. It’s run the Red Bull Music Academy, a festival underwritten by the brand, for more than a decade. Each year musicians and celebrated artists flock to a major international city, attracting thousands of music lovers from near and afar in the process.

The brand even has its own record label – Red Bull Records – which prides itself on working with up-and-coming artists. Alternative rock band Twin Atlantic is just one of the success stories to come out of it.

It also has Red Bull Music Publishing, meanwhile, which boasts studios, production, publishing and rights-management abilities.


Converse loves music, especially musical collaboration. It all began with ‘Connectivity’ – a global campaign reinforcing the footwear brand’s connected heritage across music genres and music communities.

Next came ‘Three artists, one song’ – a music platform bringing together 3 extraordinary musicians from different genres to create original tunes – that flourished and enjoyed massive success.

Pharrell Williams was one of the big names to feature on the tracks. Since then Converse has opened the Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based Rubber Tracks Studio in an effort to help the careers of emerging artists.


Philips, specifically Philips Sound, uses music in a number of creative ways to drive sales of its headphones and speakers.

One of its most recent campaigns with Tribal DDB Amsterdam fashioned an interactive music experience that streamed the Grammy Award-winning Metropole Orchestra online. It singled out certain musicians to hear the details of their sound, as well as offered insights into the personal tastes and musical tendencies of each musician.

It has also created a retro-cool campaign site with electronica band Swiss Lips – aimed at 18 to 24-year-olds – which lets users play a 16-bit driving game and, in the process, remix the song and create their own music video.

Think big but start small

We’re not saying you have to creative your own music academy or produce your own song to incorporate music into your brand’s DNA. You can only really think about doing this if you have a big budget to play with.

Using a song over the top of an advert has much the same effect – and doesn’t break the bank – so it’s something seriously worth considering if you’re launching an international marketing campaign.

Studies have shown that music helps people remember things. It would therefore be a missed opportunity to not use music in some way. If your advert goes viral, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Go global but think local

Brands that market their products and services globally also need to consider the effect of music on their target audience as well as the genres or individual artists that will allow them to reach their goals.

Every culture has its own music preferences so thorough research into local tastes and preferences is required before launching a campaign. By using native in-country experts, it’s more likely that the music selected for a brand’s global advertising will have the desired effect of engaging local audiences and ultimately helping their products to sell.

Written by Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf is Head of Digital at TranslateMedia. He has an interest in how technology can help businesses achieve their marketing objectives. He's been working in digital marketing and web development since 2001 across a wide range of industries and clients.

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