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Nostalgia In Advertising: Iconic cinema songs in ads. Does it work?

Coca-Cola, Tinder, Apple, Levi’s and TVS Scooter have used iconic songs in their advertising. Why and how does this evergreen formula work?

By  Priyanka NairFeb 24, 2023 5:35 PM
Nostalgia In Advertising: Iconic cinema songs in ads. Does it work?
Coke Zero's commercial featuring actor Tiger Shroff has the remixed version of Late Lata Mangeshkar’s song ‘Hothon Pe Bas’. The ad is made by Ogilvy India and Good Morning Films.

In 2022 actor Tiger Shroff was showing off his swag in Pepsi commercials. Now Shroff's in rival Coca-Cola’s ad for its zero sugar variant Coke Zero. The commercial's soundtrack is the remixed version of Late Lata Mangeshkar’s song ‘Hothon Pe Bas’. Is it the right choice or an odd one? The ad looks like any other commercial in the category. But one may recall this one because of the iconic Hindi song from the film ‘Yeh Dillagi’ starring Kajol and Saif Ali Khan. So, is the song the hero and not the script, we wonder. The ad is made by Ogilvy and Good Morning Films.

Not so long ago Tinder’s ad created by Lowe Lintas became social chatter for two reasons. Firstly, because it featured a woman going on dates with men and women, exploring her individuality, without worrying about the outcome. Secondly, it featured ‘Premika Ne Pyar Se’ from the 90s hit movie Hum Se Hai Muqabala. The film was a refreshing throwback to legendary singers S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Udit Narayan.

In the past, brands like Apple, Levi’s and TVS Scooter, among many other brands have used or mashed up iconic songs for their commercials.

According to Omkar Joshi, founder and chief creative officer of the digital-first consulting shop, hybrid>, using iconic songs in ads lends an instant sense of familiarity for the audience. “Non-traditional situations and visuals can connect better when the audio is something the audience already knows. The brand feels more "apna" after this and even if that change is as small, it's worth a lot in terms of long-term equity, he adds.

Using popular tracks as background scores for ads is an evergreen trend that may seem formulaic but in a good way. Joshi explains, “You’ve got someone's attention even before the actual premise of the ad is presented. Attention then remains longer and there's a positive sentiment developing from the start. Add a dash of celebs and stars, you've got a winning combination.”

Globally, there are several brands that have used this strategy and have created lasting impressions. These are popular songs used in ad that hit the charts.

Rayomand Patell, chief creative officer of Schbang recalls some examples from the West. Evian - Dancing Babies that used the remixed version of 1990s Ini Kamoze hit ‘Here Comes the Hotstepper’; John Lewis’ commercial used Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ song for a holiday ad; Renault Clio’s ‘Get Uppa’ used James Brown.

“These commercials don’t work with any other track. So to my mind using music well, and I don’t mean just having it in the background I mean actively using the song as a choice before anything else, can result in major memorability and brand love when done right,” says Patell.

It’s a clever strategy to get your communication bypass the radar most people have today to be advertised to and one of the few ways left for a big brand to be a part of the zeitgeist in the nicest way, he concludes.  

First Published on Feb 24, 2023 4:20 PM