07
Oct
08

Apple and Ritz: Meet the New A&R

We get bombarded with advertisements every day of our lives – directly and indirectly. It’s one of the reasons I don’t usually watch too much television, nor do I listen to much radio. As someone who took a communications diploma and majored in advertising, I have a particular disdain for what advertising creatives do. Sure, there are those really creative ads that make you sit up and see them as art, but I quickly learned that those are few and far between, and that whatever a client says (even when completely assinine) goes. When I got into advertising, I had pie-in-the-sky dreams of coming up with truly creative ways of presenting products – what I didn’t account for was the fact I’d always be selling something. And I couldn’t live with selling things I didn’t believe in. And I couldn’t fight for new ways of marketing things in a world with so much advertising noise pollution – even guerrilla marketing can only go so far. However, I will say I was ambushed by some relatively recent marketing by Apple and Ritz. And the fascinating part was the fact I didn’t feel inclined to purchase a colourful nano iPod nor Ritz crackers, but the music being featured.

Now, music in adverts isn’t a new concept, but most of the time they used to be jingles specifically written for the product or service. Some can be pretty catchy (“save big money at Menards,” anyone?), but they’re usually terrible pieces of music otherwise. And, of course, celebrity endorsement has been present for just as long, including musicians. My favourite advert is the iconic one featuring Peter Murphy for Maxell, but Pepsi has used pop artists to fairly large effect since the 80s and McDonalds matched up their slogan with a song by Justin Timberlake in a new bid for a jingle. I still remember those GAP ads from my high school years, which featured that guy from Phantom Planet with other people singing songs like Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough, Donovan’s Mellow Yellow, and Madonna’s Dress You Up in My Love, and I believe there were some winter GAP ads that featured Badly Drawn Boy. The difference in the noughties seems to be the fact that adverts for other products besides music are now breaking new bands in more and more conscious and deliberate ways. Rather than use songs that are already well-established, thus beneficial by their celebrity endorsement, these advertisers are using relatively obscure artists that the average audience wouldn’t know existed.

Because the music industry and market has become so fragmented and frail in terms of marketing power, especially to the “hip” kids, planting new (respectable) songs in commercials for other things is a way to reach people. In the process, the product actually being featured hopes to be positively associated with the “cool” musical act. In the world of advertising, credibility = truth, therefore, the more credible the celebrity endorsing the product is, the more credible the product itself is. It’s all about modality and control really – big advertisers have the money to control the advertised portion of reality, thus modality, that we see on a regular basis. At the same time, we, the audience, have become so jaded and cynical towards ads that advertisers realize that their power and control is becoming more limited. And, so, they hook up with labels and artists with much less financial power, thus less visibility, but with more credibility power, and a marketing symbiosis of power-sharing takes place.

The small bits of TV I was still watching in the past month featured both the ad for the colourful nanos and Ritz crackers several times, and every time I saw them, I thought to myself again, “I need to find out who sings those songs.” I finally bothered to this week, but as I suspected, many others had already beaten me to it. The song for the fourth generation nano iPods is by a Brooklyn synthpop band called Chairlift, who I had already heard about awhile ago, but not bothered to check them out, thus never made the connection between them and the advertisement. And the song featured in that incredibly short ad for Ritz (the above clip is an extended one that I’ve never seen aired – usually only the last 10 seconds is aired) is by Sheffield folk duo, Slow Club. What I find so fascinating about all this is how attached I became to 30 seconds or less of a song. It’s not often anymore that I fall for a song based on such a small sample. In each case, I always wanted the song to go on longer as I stared at the television set with anticipation and then regret. They’re both such beautifully twee songs in their own ways and with creative narratives built into them that I couldn’t help but take note.

Interestingly enough, when you go to purchase When I Go on iTunes, it actually has Ritz Commercial in parentheses next to it. There was an obvious assumption that people would search for this otherwise rather obscure song via the commercial it was associated with. However, it seems that this tactic can backfire. Companies like Apple, especially with their iPod and iTunes adverts, have tried to be as ahead of the curve as they could be, but in the case of whoever sang that Jerk It Out song, the hype seemed to die down pretty quick, making a one hit wonder situation. Like many A&R people, Apple is sometimes wrong, too.

Obviously not all ads attempting this cross-promotion affect me, but these two did. And I wonder whether I should feel dirty about the whole thing as I imagine all these coolhunters trawling the Internet for the next big thing in music just to sell one more box of crackers. Should it matter that I got some musical tips from advertisers? Am I being corrupted after all this time that I’ve avoided the solicitations from the music industry? I don’t think so. I’m starting to think that a song/band is either good or not, and no matter how they gain my attention, I should just do what I’ve always done: evaluate based on artistic merit alone. If the song happens to be part of a marketing tactic, that’s fine because I’m already fully aware it is. From what I can tell, both Chairlift and Slow Club are decent bands with several other great songs, so it doesn’t really matter where I first heard them. I suppose I can also comfort myself with the fact I never buy Ritz crackers or fourth generation nanos. Then again, I already own a second generation iPod nano.

Bruises – Chairlift

When I Go – Slow Club

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Apple and Ritz: Meet the New A&R”


  1. 1 Rol
    October 9, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Having worked in the Evil Industry for far too many years (not through choice, but desperation), I agree with just about everything you wrote here.

    That said, while I didn’t know Slow Club had licensed a track for use in advertising, it’s nice to hear they’re making some money – maybe they’ll be able to afford to put an album out now. Saw them live last year and they have some really cool songs.

  2. 2 anglopunk
    October 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I would think that people like you and I would only work in advertising through desperation – it’s one of those jobs you get when you wish you could just write creatively full-time. Sadly, I’m returning to the idea of working in a communications job of some sort because I’m currently desperately unemployed.

    And I agree, every Slow Club song I’ve heard is very very good.

  3. 3 JC
    October 12, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Hugely interesting read.

    Nowadays, TV advertisers must be struggling badly. Dont know about anyone else, but the little TV I wattch nowadays I always switch to another channel when the ads come on.

    In fact, I tend to switch direct to one of two music channels and catch a couple of minutes of whatever video is showing before switching back to the programme.

    As for music in ads – it was maybe 20 years or so ago that I really noticed it when Levi's turned a whole load of oldies into re-issued #1 songs – Percy Sledge, Ben E King and The Clash spring to mind – before a change of tack saw new bands sign up and a couple of one-hit wonders emerged – Stiltskin and Babylon Zoo are the ones that spring to mind. I bet next to no-one else rembers the one-hit wonders though….(its the special powers from my music anorak y'see).

    I suppose I'm not too bothered given that a song getting used in an advert tend to help a band or artist in terms of exposure and manking money. But I do cringe when a great song is used in a wholly inappropriate way – as in the use of 'This Is The Day' by The The in an awful ad for M&Ms.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


The Hype Machine
mp3 blogs
Add to Technorati Favorites

Blog Stats

  • 445,318 hits

Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

Photobucket

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

Photobucket

Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

Photobucket

Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

Photobucket

Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

Photobucket

You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

Photobucket

I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

Photobucket

You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

Photobucket

Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

Photobucket

Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

Photobucket

Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

Photobucket

Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Photobucket

And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

Photobucket

My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

Photobucket

Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

Photobucket

We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

Photobucket

Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

Photobucket

LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

Photobucket

Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

Photobucket

You must let her go

She's not crying

Photobucket

Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

Photobucket

So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

Photobucket

The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

Photobucket

Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

Photobucket

No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

Photobucket

All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

Photobucket

Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


%d bloggers like this: