UK TV Advert Song & Music Database

April 2013 | AMV BBDO and Universal run out among the winners in new TV advertising research

POSTED BY ON 28 April 2013

Tunes by veteran rockers Queen, the Rolling Stones and Blondie were the most popular in TV adverts screened over the past year.

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Adbreakanthems surveyed nearly 500 spots screened on primetime TV between April 2012-March 2013, to discover that motor manufacturers and food companies were most likely to licensed music for marketing campaigns followed food and fashion retailers and household names in the holidays and travel sectors.

During the 12 month period Queen had five songs licensed – including Another One Bites The Dust and We Will Rock You – by brands such as Persil, Tesco and Walkers Crisps.

At the same time four Rolling Stones’ songs, Start Me Up, Paint It Black, You Can’t Always Get What You Want and the 1965 Sonny Bono/Roddy Jackson-penned She Said Yeah, were used to sell everything from Omega watches to Dior Homme perfume.

Record Labels

With both these bands now on labels run by Universal Music, it came as no surprise that the major should come top of the list of record companies with the most rights to synced songs during the 12 month period. It owned or administered master recordings featured in 78 spots - equivalent to nearly 17% of 465 ads researched.

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Second-placed Sony Music represented the master rights for tracks in 47 of the adverts identified by adbreakanthems while EMI, which placed Blondie’s songs One Way Or Another, Heart Of Glass and Rapture into three ads owned the rights to songs in 45 ads.

Warner Music-signed artists and catalogue items, including Muse whose track Feeling Good was used by RKCR/Y&R in a high-profile Virgin Atlantic campaign, were heard behind a further 30 films.

Independent record labels were also well represented. Sheffield-based Warp held the master rights to songs used in five adverts while Ninja Tunes and its imprint Counter licensed four, including How You Like Me by West Country soul rock band The Heavy which was used in Strongbow’s Push It commercial.

Also claiming four syncs apiece were Anglo/Canadian label Nettwerk and Beggar’s imprint XL while film soundtrack specialists Silva held the rights to three, including re-recorded versions of theme tunes to Rocky and Magnum P.I.

Silva Screen’s head of sync and licensing David Stoner said: “People know they can come to us if a specific tune is needed to reference a particular film or TV show or where music is needed to evoke a particular period or genre.”


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EMI Music was the most successful music publisher at placing songs in adverts during the year. It could claim full or part shares in 101 of the spots surveyed and had 100% control of music in 68 ads.

Its new owner Sony ATV was the next most successful supplier of music to the advertising sector, boasting significant stakes in 67 ads.

Melanie Johnson, VP Sales Sony ATV Music Publishing / EMI Music Publishing, said: “These figures highlight the amazing catalogue of songs and writers we are fortunate enough to work with across EMI MP. The combination of Sony ATV’s amazing songs and the depth of the wide reaching EMI catalogue we are so proud of, ensure clients have all music genres under one roof.”


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Unsurprisingly pop dominated the sound of the commercial breaks during the period. 84 spots fell within that genre, with alternative pop proving the second most popular sound, finding a place in 39 ads.

Contemporary recordings, defined by as less than five years old, were included in 161 of the spots surveyed or almost 35% of the year’s total.

Reflecting the buoyancy of Britain’s nu-folk scene, tunes within the folk/acoustic genre took third spot in the rankings notching up appearances in 34 spots. Orchestral music and MOR/easy listening styles were not far behind with 33 and 32 ads respectively.

The Clash’s 1979 anthem London Calling provided the soundtrack to BBH’s 2012 British Airways Support Team GB ad, and helped boost the number of appearances of punk and new wave music to ten. Reggae and ska music appeared in five ads while heavy metal powered a further four.

Advertising Agencies

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AMV BBDO was behind around 10% of nearly 500 commercials – as surveyed by sync specialists – which featured identifiable music soundtracks.

BBH, RKCR/Y&R and Wieden + Kennedy each licensed music for 25 on-screen campaigns by a wide variety of artists and bands, from Olly Murs to Charlene Soraia, across more than 20 musical genres ranging from Pop and R’n’B to Heavy Metal and punk rock.

Amongst BBH’s music choices was The Clash’s iconic London Calling which was used to stunning effect in a BA ad for the Olympics while RKCR/Y&R had success with the Edwyn Collins track A Girl Like You for M&S fashions. Wieden + Kennedy, which enjoyed a particularly strong showing as producer of commercials in the food retail sector, licensed the 1980 Queen hit Another One Bites The Dust for supermarket chain Tesco.

Adam & Eve DDB was responsible for 15 spots, including The Journey for John Lewis featuring Gabrielle Aplin’s version of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood song The Power Of Love which subsequently topped the singles charts during the Christmas period.

Music Supervision

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While AMV BBDO routinely acts as music supervisors for the majority of spots it creates, the agency also made use of third parties to help source material and negotiate deals.

The independent music supervisor with the best hit rates was Platinum Rye, which worked on 37 ads for clients such as William Hill and Thomson Holidays.

Second place went to Leland Music, which handled 35, including Tesco’s huge multi-spot Christmas campaign.

For more complete data, tables and further information contact:

Editor in Chief : Chas de Whalley
Email :
phone : 020 8992 7155

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