Monday, September 10, 2012

When Bad Commercials Happen to Good Songs

An unfortunate thing happened today, Kia Motors managed to ruin a once favorite song of mine "In My Mind" by Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl featuring Georgi Kay and mixed by Swedish House Mafia member Axwell. I watched in pain as a Marie Antoinette look-a-like slaughtered the song, only to allow urban-dressed hamsters to breakdance through the carnage. Alright fine, the dancing hamsters worked for LMFAO's "Party Rock", but I'm sorry Kia, this loose interpretation of electronic dance culture in an 18th century opera house makes no sense to me and I find the hamsters fashion choices offensive.
Not to mention, did the ad agency just use this Cosmic Opera teaser as their creative brief? Seriously, the song "In My Mind" was used to promote Axwell as the headliner of the theatrical EDM show at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. I took photos from the event here

I don't think the general public agrees with my sentiment about the commercial, as the spot received 9x more likes than dislikes, but this doesn't change my deep disappointment. A mistake a lot of brands make is centering a campaign around a single song--often a song that has little relevance to the brand or product--and forcing it into every campaign execution. What happens is the campaign becomes less about the brand and product and relies heavily on the popularity of the track.

For example, this "In My Mind" user-generated music video contest doesn't make me think about the Kia car featured in the spot but instead wonder if Katy Perry was in charge of the design:
In my mind, maybe I'm just bitter that corporate brands are taking decent music tracks at will and plugging them into mindless, meaningless, terrible ads (I'm talking about you Buick!). However, Kia isn't the only brand to recently make a song the focal point of its commercial. I also can't stand those Internet Explorer commercials using Alex Clare's "Too Close" and Samsung Galaxy Note's "Moves Like Jagger" to emphasize that really important looking pie graph.

I'm not trying to blame Apple for this music trend, but I am going to. Apple was able to highlight product aesthetics and functionality with music in a way that complement both visual and sound where the music wasn't detracting from the product but helped to make the commercial memorable. Now somehow, brands have taken that to mean crowd surfing hamsters.

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