How Coca-Cola mastered the art of music in marketing Pt. 1

By Julian Harris Gibson

photo: Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Ever since the days of families gathering around a radio to get their news, entertainment and music, marketers have been using music in jingles to help you remember to purchase their product. Whether the product is Colgate toothpaste, Alka-Seltzer antacids or Oscar Mayer hot dogs, we all remember it better with music.

It is undeniable that music enhances a marketing pitch.  Lately, advertisers have gone beyond the canned jingle and started matching their product or service to the perfect soundtrack. If it is done right, consumers automatically make a cognitive marriage between your product and the theme of the song in the commercial.

These songs are nostalgic like Coca-Cola’s use of the Peaches and Herbs hit “Aint nothin like the Real Thing” in their advertisements during the 1970’s. This may have been the most brand appropriate match of a song and product.

The song was a hit in it’s own right and Coca-Cola was well on its way to global domination at this time. So, to pair these two cultural heavyweights into one concise, yet immensely effective ad was marketing gold. Coca-Cola didn’t have to say anything extra to get their point across, you just “got it”. 

Furthermore, Coca-cola had been using the tagline “The Real Thing” for years, but this ad drove home the point specifically to an audience of African-Americans and fans of soul music across the world. Coca-Cola was sending the message that they welcomed all consumers and they were the cool thing to drink because they were authentic -“The Real Thing”.

Displayed in the photo above, you see a young man with an afro sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a coke with his grandmother. His grandmother is snipping some green beans and smiling. This is an image familiar to most of us, but especially in the African-American community to whom the ad seems to be targeting. Additionally, the green beans are whole food and real, this adds a subliminal message that Coke is an equivalent: whole food , real and  down to earth.

 The tagline reads “For the real times,” which can be interpreted a number of ways. To one audience it could mean family time, but to the more perceptive eye this ad communicates that even though times are tough, you can still enjoy the little things like an ice-cold, Coca-Cola.

Marketers can plan, research, poll and focus group until their computers crash, but there is something magical when the right song matches the right product. These two elements combine to make the sexiest sound in marketing “cha-ching”.

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