Rock and roll and the auto companies — it’s not a new combination, but in the last two years there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of car commercials featuring rock stars and their music.
ROCK AND ROLL can give a car or a brand a distinct image that sticks in the mind of buyers. That’s why almost every auto maker is using rock and roll to sell their wheels.
From ‘s “Keep on Rolling” for General Motors to ‘s “The Best I Ever Had” for , it’s become the way to advertise the latest wheels and deals.
“Absolutely, it’s on the increase,” said Jean Halliday at Ad Age. “And it’s been on the increase in the last two years with auto companies.”
Halliday tracks the $7.3 billion dollars auto companies spend every year on TV commercials. And lately, those commercials feature more rock and roll
“Music is very visceral,” said Jean Jennings at Automobile Magazine. “As soon as you hear it, it puts an instant image in your head. And puts it in an instant context.”
Sometimes, the right song can help revitalize a brand. Take . Using ‘s classic song “Rock and Roll” has helped Cadillac lower the age of it’s average buyer. For the first time decades, the typical Caddy customer is under 60.
“Certainly Led Zeppelin and the song ‘Rock and Roll’ appeals to our target market,” said John Howell, a GM executive involved with Cadillac’s brand development. “You know, the 45 to 59 group grew up with that group. It’s a piece of music and genre that does very well in terms of appealing to them.”
Cadillac won’t say how much it paid Led Zeppelin to use the group’s music. But it’s estimated to be several million dollars. That’s the going price for hooking up with major stars like , who were featured in truck spots a couple years ago.
For it’s new campaign, is paying $14 million over 3 years to have her pitch Chrysler minivans and cars.
“The Chrysler people said that Celine Dion fits their new brand image which is premier, and passionate, and sensual,” said Halliday. “But the other thing, they may not say is that it’s really crowded in the auto segment… there’s a lot of clutter. They want to break through the clutter. They want people to remember their commercials.”
Twenty or thirty years ago groups like wouldn’t be caught dead pitching products for corporate America. Not anymore. In fact, the flute in a recent commercial is the beginning of Tull’s hit song, “Thick as a Brick.”
Why are more rockers hooking up with automakers? Two reasons. First, there’s the money. At a time when CD sales are slumping, stars are realizing they can cash in by selling their songs for commercials. And sometimes the commercials help stars like get snippets of their songs in front of a broader audience.
used a similar approach with a recent commercial promoting his hit song “Desert Rose.”
When will this trend end? Most believe it will continue for a while. After all, if automakers can find that one song that conveys exactly the image they are looking for, it could be a hit. Which is why Chevy still uses for it’s now-familiar “Like a Rock” truck commercials.