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How ads have filled the musical gap for artists

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In 2005, Oasis was riding high and pouring scorn on any artists the band deemed “sell-outs”. Upon hearing the news that The White Stripes frontman Jack White had written a song used in a Coca-Cola ad, Noel Gallagher scoffed in NME: “Jack White has just done a song for Coca-Cola. End of. He ceases to be in the club. And he looks like Zorro on doughnuts. He’s supposed to be the poster boy for the alternative way of thinking… I’m not having that, that’s fucking wrong. Particularly Coca-Cola, it’s like doing a fucking gig for McDonald’s.”

Fast-forward to June this year and Oasis’ 1997 track Stand by Me was heard on its second outing in a Halifax ad as the UK awaited a final decision from prime minister Boris Johnson on the possible end of lockdown restrictions.

It is possible that “club” spokesman Gallagher may be ruing his earlier statement. But Halifax wasn’t the first thawing of his principles. In 2015 Oasis acquiesced to arguably the biggest advertising property in the UK when the band allowed Norwegian singer Aurora to cover Half the World Away for that year’s John Lewis Christmas ad.

At the time, a somewhat contrite Gallagher admitted: “It will forever be synonymous with Christmas from now on and, as is well known, it’s not my favourite time of year.

“At least it comes with a cheque, which, believe me, is highly worthwhile.”

Ian Heartfield, founder of New Commercial Arts, which created the recent Halifax ad, describes Stand by Me as a “proper feel-good tune by a massive rock and roll band”. In the June spot and its February precursor, the song is set to vignettes of different people having special – and ordinary – moments.

“It wasn’t the biggest Oasis hit but it was up there,” Heartfield says. “The swaggering tempo of the track is spot-on for the pace of the camera’s journey, but more importantly it’s the memory trigger that’s been fired in most people; it takes them back to however young they were when they first heard it.”

Supplementary income

As touring revenues have evaporated due to the pandemic, it seems that more and more artists have taken this route. Gallagher may be an old hand by now – a trailer for Wimbledon and a Renault Clio ad both carried Oasis songs in 2019 – but consider, for example, Coldplay. The Chris Martin-fronted indie outfit licensed a song for use in a BMW ad in June for the first time in the band’s 15-year career. Anne-Marie also collaborated with Rudimental for an O2 campaign, created by VCCP and released in May.

David Courtier-Dutton, chief executive of SoundOut, a body that helps record companies and radio groups test the appeal of new songs, argues that there must be a good fit between song and brand.

“The lure of a famous artist or a big song is like catnip to marketing professionals,” he says. “But the issue is that unless you get a close sort of alignment in terms of personality or archetypes between the........

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