Advertisements communicate, even provoke, a response from the audience. They drive a message or tantalise the audience to become a consumer of their brand. Some ads say it with words. For some, music says it all.
Titan watches emerged from a joint venture between Tata Industries and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO). Its analogue electronic quartz watches became an instant hit with Indian customers. Further, Titan watches were available in many designs, elevating watches to beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, utility and self-expression.
Titan retained Ogilvy to promote these watches. Suresh Mullick, the National Creative Director of Ogilvy, struck upon an idea to use Mozart’s 25th Symphony, a western classical masterpiece, to showcase the various striking watch designs. Xerxes Desai, the managing director of Titan, loved the composition and the idea. The television advertisement, where timeless music played in the background, and a collection of beautifully crafted watches were displayed captivated the audience. The Titan brand had got its signature tune, some over the years referring to it as the distinct ‘Titan tune’.
The television commercial for the ‘Titan Edge’ ceramic watch was a distinct black and white advertisement. The signature tune was played on the Jal Tarang, an Indian percussion instrument that uses ceramic bowls filled with water.
Many television campaigns of Titan watches followed, and the 25th Symphony remained a defining feature of the brand. During the “What’s Your Style” campaign to promote watches as a stylish fashion accessory, superstar Aamir Khan and Marathi stage actor Vihang Nayak were shown humming the tune. This campaign presented the idea of pairing different watches with different attires, thus promoting the notion of a person needing more than one watch to complete their wardrobe.
Titan managed to move the watch category from a utilitarian product that tells times to a self-expressive, hedonic product.
Indian women in the late 1970s wanted variety and change in their clothes. The regular sarees were seen as boring, and the often starched cotton made the sarees stiff. Enter Garden Vareli sarees. These were flowy, synthetic sarees in floral and geometric prints. They were modern, bright, stylish and easy to wash and wear.
The advertising agency, Rediffusion took up the task to position it as an upmarket brand for the modern woman. The signature tune was composed by the legendary Vanraj Bhatia, inspired by the Hindustani classical raga, Desh. Instruments like the sarangi, a short-necked string instrument played with a bow, made the tune memorable.
The memorable television commercial had the tune playing in the background while models were elegantly draped in various Garden sarees. The swing used as a prop gave a sense of movement and there was a clever play of light and shadow.
The saree was a style statement: a smart choice for urban women. Garden Vareli was established as an aspirational fashion brand.
Music: A medium of communication
Titan watches and Garden Vareli sarees are examples of different brands united by a universal form of communication – music. While Titan retained the original classical piece in its commercial to celebrate its timepieces, Garden Vareli used a tune rooted in tradition to contemporize traditional attire.
The role of music to influence emotion, and drive brand associations and consumption is universal. A famous campaign for Old Spice is an example. This campaign used the majestic movement “O Fortuna” which is part of the composition Carmina Burana set to music by Carl Orff. This commercial showed a nautical theme with thunderous waves. The music evoked grandeur, as did the scenes of the mighty ocean (extended using the image of a sailing ship on the brand’s packaging).
Music touches people and evokes an emotional response. It sets the mood of the advertisement and acts as a reminder of the brand, whenever the tune is played. Music works in advertising because, as Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks.”
Subodh Tagare is an associate professor at IMT Nagpur, where he teaches courses on marketing. Prior to IMT, Subodh was the marketing director at American Power Conversion/ Schneider Electric for South Asia.
S Vejay Anand is presently the chief executive officer at Ironhill Brewery. He has also been an entrepreneur in the food and pet care spaces. Earlier he was the president at Coffee Day and COO at USPL.