'Music can make or break an ad, it’s that simple'

In a four-parter on the importance of music in advertising Gijs de Swarte talks to a few of his fellow industry specialists. Part one: Daniëlle Guirguis.

Daniëlle Guirguis, founder, owner and 'Chief Smartie' of Smarthouse Films: 'I’m a huge fan of music that supports the narrative, or better yet, tells a story on it’s own. However nowadays music is in a bit of a tougher spot, due to the prevalence of social media. And that for a rather dopey reason: on social media the majority of video’s is watched muted by default, so the music is locked behind an action: unmuting the video. Add to that, that most people scroll through social media on their phone without earbuds. So more and more it’s up to the imagemakers if the viewers hears the audio or not. Meanwhile videos are increasingly provided with subtitles to maximize engagement. Even though in my opinion music can make or break an ad, it’s that simple. It’s such an important element.'

'For example we just shot a Toyota-ad in de ports of Barcelona, Michael Mann-style. A little Heat, a little Miami Vice, lots of excitement, tough, threatening… if you hear the music with it. When it’s absent, it’s just a car speeding through the ports. Evidently an extra layer that is added by the music. I love contrast as well: rough n’ tumble images with sweet and charming music. If done correctly that’s an amazing way to draw in your audience, because it’s playing with expectations. It raises questions and questions raise attention.'

still Eneco
'I should also say that I love syncs as well – on the condition that they’re done well. Mostly that’s a budgetary matter: the Stones for example are outrageously expensive, though usually you can have a track made that has the same musical impact.
Look at what Eneco did with the typically Dutch 70s song Wim Sonneveld’s 'Langs het tuinpad van mijn vader': you see The Netherlands at its most modern; glass skyscrapers, solar panels, kids playing with virtual reality, people on Segway’s etc. The message – switch to another energy supplier, join a newer, more sustainable, smarter, cleaner and more modern Eneco. All that wrapped in a warm nostalgia. The song is the story and I think that’s awesome.
Another example is a Karwei commercial from ten years ago. You see a woman decorating her house and garden in her thoughts and those thoughts becoming reality immediately. Very good concept in itself, but the music by Pete Philly & Perquisite really delivers the pay-off: Whatever you think of, no problem with Karwei. A real earworm, literally unforgettable. Love it. But I believe I said that already.'

Text: Gijs de Swarte