When Music Makes the Ad: The Best TV Commercial Throwbacks

“You’re sitting at home alone. You’re mindlessly playing on your phone. You suddenly hear a heavenly sound. It sweeps across your living room and travels back to the TV speakers in 30 seconds or less. You anxiously await the commercial’s end. You have to know who’s responsible for bringing you this beautiful bop. The brand name flashes across the screen. You exhale slowly and life is never the same…”

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As the Red Hot Chili Peppers once said, music is the great communicator. That’s why we find it in everything from films to video games to religious services.

Any good marketing professional can tell you the value of a great piece of music. Do you want to energize your audience? Try a trendy EDM banger. Do you want them to cry tears? “In the Arms of An Angel” by Sarah McLachlan should work.

Below are a few iconic commercials that made people actually want to get up off the couch and buy whatever they were selling. From cars to clothes- the music made all the difference.

1. Gap – “Mellow Yellow”

If you’re a 90’s baby, you probably still have Gap’s “Mellow Yellow” stuck in your head. The casual clothing company created one of their most memorable ads by putting an electric spin on Donovan’s 1966 folk jam. Somehow they still make wearing cord look very, very cool.

Fun Fact: You can spot Rashida Jones of The Office and Parks and Recreation fame at 0:30!

2. Mitsubishi – “Days Go By”

A certified b-boy favorite, electronic group Dirty Vegas saw quite a bit of success thanks to the Japanese car corporation. Their infectiously warbled hit helped sell their newest model, the Eclipse and the rest is history.

Fun Fact: The song won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2003.

3. Apple – “1234”

Apple didn’t have to do much to skyrocket their iPod nano sales in 2007. Their formula? Simply borrow an already great song and music video from indie pop singer Feist and add their new device to the background. The colorful aesthetic sells itself but the song takes the commercial to new heights.

Fun Fact: The popularity of “1234” landed Feist a musical guest spot on Saturday Night Live.

4. Adidas – “Beggin'”

French DJ Pilooski is the mastermind behind Adidas’ famous house party advert. Chock full of celebs, the upbeat remix of the Four Season’s song commands attention, just like a good party should. Everyone wanted to wear three stripes in ’08…ahh, simpler times.

Fun Fact: Russell Simmons, Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, Estelle, David Beckham, Young Jeezy, Method Man, Kevin Garnett, The Tings Tings and Romanian tennis legend Illie Nastase appear in the video. Can you spot anyone else?

5. Volkswagen – “Da Da Da”

Using humor and storytelling always helps in advertising. The European brand utilizes both in this 1997 commercial. By sticking to their roots with a German band, the repetitive new wave track from TRIO draws viewers in immediately.

Fun Fact: The song’s real name is actually “Da Da Da I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha.” Really puts Fall Out Boy song titles to shame. Have a watch of the real music video for the song as well if you want a good laugh.

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