Selling with "World" Music
April 25, 2011 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a student: we're looking for TV commercials that have any kind of identifiably "world music" or more generally non-western musical styles in their soundtracks.

A student of mine is trying to identify current and recent (last decade) television commercials that include non-western musical styles, genres, and sounds, including those that sound vaguely "exotic" (but non-specific) as well as those that use specific, identifiable songs, artists, or styles. Big bonus points if there is online video available of the commercial(s) in question. Significant older examples are welcome as well! Many thanks!
posted by fourcheesemac to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think someone even asked about it in here -- Honda used a song by Miriam Makeba for one of their ads.

Volkswagen used the song "Harry's Game" by the Irish group Clannad in one of their ads. (Can't find a link to the ad, but this page is a fan's list of "all the cool songs Volkswagen uses in their ads" and has links to Amazon and such.) I'll admit that Celtic music isn't "non-Western" as such, but it is considered "World Music" in some circles, so mentioning that in case.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on April 25, 2011

I'm not entirely sure about the boundaries of "world music" at this point. Does reggae count?

I feel like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow has been used in about fifty commercials, although I can't specifically remember which ones.

What about that Mazda Zoom Zoom ad?
posted by craichead at 7:48 AM on April 25, 2011

I feel like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow has been used in about fifty commercials, although I can't specifically remember which ones.

I do remember the very intro being used in ads for the erstwhile Online store "". They used the part where he's just singing "oooh" before he starts singing the lyrics proper.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 AM on April 25, 2011

Response by poster: Yes, please take the boundaries of "world music"(I know it's a meaningless term when you think about it too long) in the broadest sense -- anything where the music is intended to signify cultural difference, reggae or Israel K would definitely work. Basically, we're collecting examples of musical exoticism in TV ads (and we are familiar with the work of Timothy Taylor on this subject!).

Could have been clearer about this in the question, sorry!
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:51 AM on April 25, 2011

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has just begun using Rusted Root's "Send Me On My Way"... and while that particular track was fairly commercial when it charted in 1995, Rusted Root is pretty solidly in the world music genre.

I'm not sure they're using it to signify cultural difference as much as for the title, though.
posted by pineapple at 7:53 AM on April 25, 2011

Here's a 1999 ad for Intel that used Jorge Ben's "Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)."

Just to be clear, are you looking for ads that came out of the US and Canada? From anywhere else?
posted by hydrophonic at 7:55 AM on April 25, 2011

The Clannad thing would probably count, then; it was defiitely one of Clannad's more ethereal tracks. (And tons of people apparently called Volkswagen dealerships saying, "sorry, I can't afford a car right now, I just want to know what song that is!") That was from 1991.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 AM on April 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far; yes, primarily interested in English-language (US/Canada/UK/Australia) but if you have other examples from other countries, the more the merrier.

Celtic music definitely counts. So do those mysterious "global" sounding mixes one hears these days with djembes and digeridoos all mixed together with female voices in great reverberant choirs.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:03 AM on April 25, 2011

How about the Target dorm dance commercial?

I would argue that there's something different going on with the Pogues Suburu commercial, but it might be an interesting counterpoint.
posted by craichead at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry to keep micro-managing, but your arguments about what is "going on" with any examples mentioned here are also most welcome! Perhaps "signifying cultural difference" (and signifying human universality, the other side of the same coin) is too narrow a specification.
Basically, there is no such thing as an uninteresting example of the vague phenomenon in question.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2011

I guess that I think in most of the other examples, "exotic" music is used to make the product look sophisticated. In the Suburu commercial, though, I think you're supposed to assume that the hockey-playing family is Irish-American, and the Irish-y music conveys authenticity and folksiness. It roots them in a particular American subculture, rather than suggesting that they're worldly.
posted by craichead at 8:36 AM on April 25, 2011

Here's a Pepsi "Samba" ad, and a "making of" video. The music is salsa, not samba, as the YouTube commentators point out.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:57 AM on April 25, 2011

Here's a Levi's ad with some bossa nova (Underwater Love by Smoke City).
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2011

See ads related to "world events" like World Cup and the Olympics.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:06 AM on April 25, 2011

Check out any lifesavers candy commercial from the 90s. They used Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:16 AM on April 25, 2011

Here's a 1994 Delta Airlines commercial using Karl Jenkin's track "Adiemus," a New Age/world music track that immitates the sound of an African children's choir.
posted by datarose at 10:03 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are two interesting examples of Tuvan throat singing being used in commercials on the DVD that accompanies Ted Levin's book Where the Rivers and Mountains Sing.
posted by umbú at 11:12 AM on April 25, 2011

Pampers Bibsters used Message to you Rudy by The Specials
posted by vespabelle at 2:51 PM on April 25, 2011

Whoops, sorry - I couldn't check during the day because Youtube is blocked -- so I just noticed my earlier link had a non-functining video. this is the Honda Ad that used Miriam Makeba. I can't find the ad that used the Clannad song, but here's the song itself.

This may not be "world music", but Mojave 3 is an unusual choice for "music to sell Hummers by".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 PM on April 25, 2011

Nike used "MAS QUE NADA" by JORGE BEN in a great spot for a world cup spot. Mazda has been using the lyrics and tag line "Zoom,zoom" as part of their music in commercials for a while, it's taken from a Capoeria (Brazilian martial art) Song "Capoeira Mata Um".
posted by jade east at 9:09 PM on April 25, 2011

The indigenous Ami people of Taiwan were unknowingly recorded singing traditional songs. The recording was subsequently sampled by the "band" Enigma and made into a song called Return to Innocence, which was used in a variety of film & TV settings.
posted by yarly at 10:22 AM on May 3, 2011

Oh, and as to my argument about what's "going on" here -- cynically, my guess is that in part this is because "world music" may be cheaper to license.

Or hey, it's totally free if you just assume it's in the public domain and don't bother to check for copyright -- since indigenous music isn't real music with all the cultural and legal protections that attach to western music, right, and doesn't have individual creators with their own interests?
posted by yarly at 10:30 AM on May 3, 2011

Finish Jet-Dry used a song by Gotan Project in a fairly recent commercial (not sure which song).
posted by spinto at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2011

mcdonalds used this song by os mutantes (rock from the brazilian tropicalia movement) during the 2008 olympics
posted by glassy sesames at 10:00 PM on August 15, 2011

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