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How Did Electronic Music Get into Car Commercials?

In the early days of television, electronic music was used sparingly in commercials. It wasn't until the 1980s that it became more commonplace, as synthesizers and other electronic instruments became more affordable and accessible. Today, electronic music is used in all sorts of commercials, and specifically in those for cars.

There was a short but important transitional moment in the history of music used in advertising. It was the moment when agencies started to replace composed jingles with previously recorded tracks. That transition already happened around forty years ago, in the 1980s, and it is already over – However, it marked a crucial part of a bigger trend that changed the general approach to music in commercials. Advertising agencies began to bend their muscles and marketers forced the hand on the tracks according to their very own tastes. At that time, underground music was booming. This underground was electronic music, more specifically “techno”.

Unfortunately, the underground wave in commercial lasted only a few years and then got almost completely replaced by pop hits. In 1997, record high sales fell below the previous year, marking the end of long-term growth. The music industry was looking for something new to invert the trend. Saatchi & Saatchi was among the first advertising agencies to attempt to reconfigure television commercials. How? By making commercials an alternative non-mainstream site to hear new music. They licensed a track by Fatboy Slim designed to appeal to teenagers. A music director at the agency said in 1999 that “It was music that our target market would recognize, but it wasn’t something you were going to find at the top of the charts”. That moment was the first step toward a fast-growing trend that is still getting bigger today.

Cupra commercial, featuring "Moderat - A New Error"

However, not all television commercials use electronic music. In fact, it has been used primarily in automotive advertising, but is not limited to this. "The music you hear in car commercials is better than most music you hear on the radio," said Lance Jensen, who helped create Volkswagen ads for Arnold Worldwide in 2002. Electronic was so popular in car advertising that by the fall of that year, the L.A. Office Roadshow, which attracts companies looking for a deal with companies with licensed land each year, had to move to a larger venue. The promoter said all record companies asked how many car companies would come.

There are a few reasons why car commercials use electronic music. Firstly, electronic music is often seen as being modern and cutting-edge, which helps to sell the image of the car as being a technologically advanced and up-to-date product. Secondly, electronic music is often quite catchy and easy to remember, which means that it can help to create a memorable commercial that people will remember and associate with the car. Finally, electronic music can help to create an atmosphere of excitement and energy, which can be helpful in selling the car as a fun and exciting product.

Hereunder, you can watch the commercial resulting from of our collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Italy, to promote their brand new EQS, the first ever AMG electric car. We welcomed their team at Lumen Museum while we where filming the episode for "moments w/Denis Horvat", allowing Mercedes to create a connection between the electronic music and the electricity powering their new vehicle.

Recall Team


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