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Published on May 5th, 2011 | by Éilish Burke


Ad Nauseam: Terrible Song (for a mobile phone ad)

You know when you really like a band and then one of their songs gets used in an ad and you feel kinda cheated? Well that’s how I felt when I saw the new Vodafone ad which uses the song Terrible Love by The National.

It’s partially (okay well, mostly) the music snob inside of me rearing her ugly head. “How dare they…” she humourlessly pontificates “…use a song with such depth of meaning to soundtrack an ad for a mobile phone company”. What Little Miss Music Snob actually means is “Oh no, this vaguely non-mainstream band which I have loved for years will now become known by lots of people with generally worse taste in music than me and they’ll refer to them as ‘that band who had that song on the Vodafone ad’ and my previous love of them will somehow become diluted by this bigger audience of fairweather fans”. This kind of reaction is the height of music snobbery. I’m not proud of it. Not to mention that it conveniently ignores the fact that I myself have discovered lots of great bands through their use on TV commercials (The Drums via this Peugeot commercial for instance).

In a similar vein you can imagine Little Miss Music Snob’s nose was put out of joint when Guinness decided to use a song from one of my albums of 2010 by the awesome (and just a little bit hipster-y) Beach House for this:

But I wasn’t as annoyed as I was about the Vodafone ad. At least the mood and tone of the Beach House song matched fairly well with the Guinness ad. But Vodafone and Terrible Love? Or Vodafone and The National in general? I just don’t get it. Then again I don’t really get this Vodafone ad at all. It exemplifies the absolute level of wankery that mobile phone ads can descend into. The premise, of course, is that Vodafone’s service is so reliable and integrated into our lives that it empowers us to do what we want, when we want. Hence the slogan ‘Power to You’. Hence a slow-mo montage of shots of diverse people living their lives and being all amazing and active and shit. I notice they haven’t shown anyone sitting on their couch calling Mizzoni’s for a deep-pan pepperoni, even if that is a more common occurance than scuba diving down gulleys in the Burren.

Of course Vodafone aren’t the only mobile phone company guilty of this kind of waffly advertising practise – O2 have been at it for years. Quite rightly Tesco Mobile have cleverly been taking the piss out of the trend, hitting just the right note of ridiculousness.

On the plus side though, I’d say Failte Ireland were delighted Vodafone made an ad for them this year.

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About the Author

Éilish writes the Ad Nauseam series of posts for Culch.ie as well as some other bit and bobs. She used to work in adland and still likes to dissect the advertising she comes across, though these days mainly from the comfort of her couch and in the form of angry tirades while her flatmate rolls her eyes to heaven. She secretly harbours smug feelings that instead of saving and putting a deposit on a house she spent all her life savings on extravagant holidays and has therefore escaped a lifetime in negative equity. She co-runs a company called Amp Music Marketing. You can get in touch with her at eilishburke{at}gmail{dot}com or follow her on Twitter.

2 Responses to Ad Nauseam: Terrible Song (for a mobile phone ad)

  1. Bngr says:

    The piano music off the latest Hyundai ad is very nice.

  2. Liam says:

    Haha.. this is hilarious, i actually know the person responsible for picking the music for this ad and she has great taste in music! At the end of the day, if this band didnt care to be commercial they would have refused the song to be published against it. Fionn Regan and the The Free Design all got more fans from their music being used in advertising. I think it makes good sense to use good music!

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