Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Rossini Overtures

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and his wife Clementine (1885-1977), circa 1944
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and his wife Clementine (1885-1977), circa 1944

It’s All About Branding

Yesterday’s Music History Monday post marked the use of the first four notes of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 as a call sign for a BBC radio show called London Calling Europe, a propaganda/information show broadcast from London into Nazi-occupied Europe. It was an inspired bit of both cultural larceny and branding: using the music of a German-born composer to represent dot-dot-dot-dash: the Morse Code for the letter “V” as in victory over Germany!

“Branding.” It’s a newish term, defined as “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.” We are told that there are four essential steps in “branding”:

1. Determine your target audience.

2. Position your product and business.

3. Define your company’s personality.

4. Choose a logo and slogan.

In the case of the BBC program London Calling Europe, one, the target audience was the population of occupied Europe. Two, the BBC positioned itself as the singular purveyor of unsullied information available to that population. Three, the show defined itself as the voice of truth. Four, its slogan was “London calling Europe” and its audio “logos” were Jeremiah Clark’s Trumpet Voluntary and the opening four notes of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

Roger Greenaway (born 1938)
Roger Greenaway (born 1938)

I know I’m speaking as a musician, but to my mind, nothing creates the sort of emotional associations branding demands more effectively than music, be it a symphony by Beethoven or a jingle by some anonymous ad-person. The English songwriter and record producer Roger Greenaway (born 1938; he co-wrote the iconic Coca-Cola advertising song I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing), put it this way:

“Music makes an emotional impact upon people and a well-crafted song can lock in the listener’s mind for life, making it a powerful marketing tool. There’s a split between brands that use specific jingles and those that prefer to sample well known music by popular bands, but one thing is clear: the right song boosts an ad and can create a positive association to a brand: gold dust for marketers!”

Greenaway mentions the use of custom-created jingles and popular music for “boosting and creating positive association to a brand.” To his list let us now add pre-existing concert music which has been, and no doubt will continue to be, exploited shamelessly in the name of product branding.… continue reading, only on Patreon!

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