Archive for February 28th, 2008


Music with a cause

February 28, 2008


Music in politics reflects what happens when music is used with brands which consumers believe in.

One of my favourite examples is New Labour’s 1997 campaign song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by D:Ream. Although many would ridicule the choice of song today, you have to remember it was perfect in 1997.
The message was clear: the Conservatives had messed up the country so badly that it would be lunacy to elect them again; a change for a brighter future is sorely desired, and who better to provide this than Mr Blair & company. However that message does not resonate today.
Campaign songs are a short term strategy, they are there to make an impact and get the message to the public as quickly as possible. Not only do they need to embody the identity and values of the brand, but they also need to be simple, clear, familiar, and powerful. Due to all these reasons, licensed music has a significant advantage of original music.

Getting the song right is also another interesting topic and the current US presidential elections reflect this.
Hillary Clinton has been using the power of the people and new media to choose hers… (Celine Dion’s ‘You And I’ won the vote)

Barack Obama used Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours’. 
However after losing the primary elections to Hillary, a more humble choice was selected –  Bill Whithers’ ‘Lovely Day’.
…and funnily enough, the Republican candidates Mike Huckabee (Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling) and John McCain (John Mellencamp’s ‘Our Country’) were asked by the musicians of their respective songs to stop using them as their campaign songs.

The right song can not only reflect the brand here, but also create a reinforced sense of solidarity by having an anthem for the ideological battle. 
The use of music in politics is not subtle and perhaps it doesn’t need to be. Campaign songs are used for 6 months and then they’re gone. Not only is this a short term strategy, but the combination between music and brand is a short term association.
However I wonder if the current model of music in politics is one which should stay as it is (due to its purposes), or whether it could be improved…

Note: I came across this Presidential Campaign Songs: 1789 – 1996. I find it bizzare that you can actually buy this… although I am very intrigued by it, it seems original music was used in the early years, but has now shifted to licensed music. Obviously there is a story to tell here, and it suggests that the model of music in politics has evolved (for the better?).