Brands and legendary bands combine their image to appeal to new fans-consumers... a win-win situation

Bob Dylan in super bowl ad for Chrysler

Brands are using the emotion which is associated with music to engage with their consumers. It's a strategy that is beneficial to both musician and brand. So it's a surprise not more brands and musicians are joining forces to make this union between the two platforms work. And whilst linking brands with music is not a new concept… weaving music into a brand’s identity is a more recent strategy that’s well and truly on the increase.

Finally even classic rockers like Bob Dylan, Metallica and Billy Joel are warming themselves to allowing their music to be licensed to Brands. They're music is reaching a much younger audience and putting them on the map again to sell tickets to their concerts and have their music listened to by other means, streaming.

And even more recently U2 who formed in 1976, got into a $100 million dollar deal with Apple, which saw their new album being automatically downloaded onto every Apple device for free. Read our article on U2 and Apple the BIG deal that forced 'Songs of Innocence' onto our libraries.

Billy Joel keeps his music alive and notable with Bank of America or The Gap

Billy Joel once regarded as an 'untouchable' by advertisers, now has music in ads for The Gap (“Just The Way You Are,” sung by his daughter, Alexa); Merrill Lynch’s Bank of America (“My Life”); and New York State tourism (“New York State of Mind”). Josh Rabinowitz Executive Vice President and Music Director for Grey Group recounts "In the past I know he was hesitant, and I had multiple discussions with his people about how he wasn’t necessarily ready unless the right thing came up."

Since 2012, Billy Joel's opinion has changed dramatically, and struck an agreement with Universal Music Publishing and its Rondor Music Unit having struck deals with approximately 127 different uses for his music in the US alone.

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“An artist with the status of Billy Joel is iconic, and can help elevate a brand,” said Paul Greco, director of music at JWT, the large ad agency owned by WPP Group of Britain.

Joel’s interest in such ad's only spotlights how eager advertisers are to latch on to the world’s most popular singles even when there is so much music already available to them.

As for Billy Joel he has not released a new album since 1993's River of Dreams, instead he tours extensively and has appeared with Elton John in a string of concerts. The use of his music in advertisements keeps his music alive and notable in the dwindling sales of CD's and with music streaming becoming a more popular platform in listening to new music, his music is being re-discovered all over again by a much younger generation.

Bob Dylan lend his voice to Chobani and Chrylser Super Bowl ad's

The same needs to be said about the 60's folk legend Bob Dylan who use to shun the thought of lending his music to brands as 'selling out' has now done so a number of times. The first being back in 2004 to Victoria's Secret, in 2006 for Apple and more recently in 2012 he has lent his voice and tunes to not one but TWO super bowl ads.

In one of these ad's made specifically for the Super-Bowl the Greek brand Chobani, features a very angry-looking bear who is looking for something natural to eat. The bear wanders into a country store and instantly calms when he finds Chobani Yogurt and playing in the background is none other than Bob Dylan's song 'I want You' served as a punch line. Genius!!

Bob Dylan also lent his voice and music to Chrysler in a two-minute long ad speaking about American pride, “Is there anything more American than America?” It was a beautifully shot advert with clips dating back to the old days and the legendary Dylan's 2000 song ‘Things Have Changed’ plays in the background over images of a young Dylan, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and other American icons.

Older crooners such as Dylan and Joel use Brands as a platform to keeping their music alive and relevant and on the flip side you have Metallica who use brands in order to experience new territory.

Metallica use brands as a way to explore new territory as Antartica with Coke Zero

Metallica teams up with Coke Zero in AntarcticaJust recently one of the biggest heavy metal rock bands in the world Metallica's Lars Ulrich weighed in on this debate about Bands using Brands, and specifically what is Metallica looking for in a brand partner. This was what he had to say to Billboard Magazine.

Last December Metallica became the first act to perform in Antarctica, with a little help from Coke Zero.

Ulrich: "One thing Metallica loves to do, we love to go to unexplored places. We were in China last year for the first time. Got a chance to go to Malaysia last year for the first time. There are still frontiers that maybe five, ten years ago there was no infrastructure to support the type of thing we do. When someone said, “Antarctica” -- you have to look at Coke Zero and you may feel OK about getting in bed with that. So we did this thing for Coke Zero that helped facilitate that particular [event] in Antarctica, but it was primarily a campaign for Latin America. That doesn’t mean that we would get in bed with Coke Zero in the United States. You have to look at what the scenario is as a one-off."

Music helps brands to connect with the consumer on an emotional level

People are tired of traditional advertising and often will find themselves scrolling past the ads when watching their favorite shows, so marketing companies are now noticing that the way to engage with the consumer must be eye-catching and emotional and what better way to do this than using music which can wrench at the heart-strings. After all that's what marketers of brands rely on, a consumer to be attached to a brand emotionally.

Companies are facing challenges of being relevant and of being heard and remembered. The way they're discovering this works is by associating a piece of music which can complement the brand and give it a voice which consumers can connect with, to evoke an emotion of any type is better than evoking no emotion at all.

When a brand uses music as an accent to the advert, then music can add colour and energy to the whole story accentuating the brand and telling a much more interesting and emotional story. And emotion is what consumers do to attach themselves to a brand. Music is a great point of difference and can generate emotion.

What once represented "selling out" is these days regarded as a window of opportunity for both brands and musicians.

Using music is an effective marketing tool by connecting with the consumer on an emotional level. Music is powerful because of its content and ability to stimulate social interaction and drives loyalty. And marketers and brands are cleverly utilising this powerful tool in advertising as the consumer can connect with a set of lyrics or a particular artist.


In the end, as a marketer, utilising music into your marketing strategy is an opportunity to connect your brand to a consumer. On the other hand, while CD sales are notably down, adverts are a new cash cow for artists who want their music to live on with a newer generation. Artists will find their music exposes them to a new fan base (the brand's consumers), while brands will reach new consumers who will like the music-brand experience. This win-win situation helps both brands and bands to reach their new fan-consumers.

Do you think that legendary musicians are 'selling out' to these brands using their music to connect to the consumer? Or is it just a genius strategy that works for both brand and band?

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Category: Music & Brands

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