A new venture brings together screen composers and advertisers promises commercials with blockbuster themes

Leading artists to create bespoke music for high-end advertising campaigns - it's a chance to bring cinematic music to a different world

Ask viewers to name the most irritating advert on television and Go Compare’s campaign featuring a warbling opera singer regularly tops the list.

But is there a more effective way for a brand to soundtrack a major campaign than the price comparison website’s migraine-inducing repetition?

What if your 30-second commercial could incorporate the epic orchestral sweep of a big-screen blockbuster such as Gravity, or the high-drama turbo injection of a thumping James Bond score?

The creators of those memorable soundtracks are now available to hire through a creative venture, backed by Britain’s leading screen composers, which aims to replace crude commercial “jingles” with a more sophisticated musical backdrop.

Composers including David Arnold, who devised the music for the Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and Steven Price, who won an Oscar for his Gravity score, are to collaborate with leading artists to create bespoke new music – from instrumentals to fully fledged vocal tracks – for high-end advertising campaigns.

The Bafta-nominated Ilan Eshkeri (Kick Ass) and Dickon Hinchliffe – a founder member of the band Tindersticks, who composed the soundtrack for the backwoods drama Winter’s Bone – have also signed up to the initiative, created by Universal Music’s Globe commercial division.

For advertisers, hiring an Oscar-winning composer adds instant credibility to any campaign and helps to make a commercial an “event”.

Despite the restrictions of working to a 30- or 60-second brief dictated by a brand, the composers believe the link-up can generate innovative musical shorts which will outlast the commercial campaign.

Universal Music, whose roster extends from Elbow to Lady Gaga, will make its artists available to collaborate with the composers and the results will be released through its labels, such as Decca. The famous Abbey Road studios will be placed at the disposal of the musicians to assist the creation of lavish orchestrations.

“Can you imagine Lana Del Rey collaborating with David Arnold for a BMW advert?” asked Nick Angel, a leading film music supervisor who is overseeing the project.

Angel, who compiled the soundtracks for films including Billy Elliot and The World’s End, said: “You can’t underestimate the importance of music in bringing a visual to life, and composers who work in film know better than anyone just how to do that.

“These guys spend their lives writing to pictures, sometimes having to build emotional and adrenaline punches in a short period of time. They’re used to working to a brief with directors and producers. It’s an opportunity to bring cinematic music to a different world.”

Composing to order for a commercial could actually offer greater freedom than a major film score. “Films are so micro-managed. There are a lot of people to make happy and you have to hit a story cue every second,” said Arnold, whose credits range from Independence Day to the BBC’s Sherlock.

He said he would be “very particular” about the brands he worked with, and accepted that his role would ultimately be to help a company sell its product. He said: “Sometimes it’s just a hook which will grab your ears, which is similar to a good film theme. You’re looking for something to make the listener stand up and take notice.”

The composers’ entry spells bad news for rock and pop acts who have increasingly relied upon the use of old hits in adverts to top up their royalties.

The business of “sync” – the strategic placing of songs on adverts, television trailers, computer games and film soundtracks – generated £19m for British musicians last year, according to the trade body BPI.

Last year, Blondie recorded painstaking reconstructions of its classic hits so that they could be placed at the disposal of brands including VW, Heinz and Commonwealth Bank.

“Now advertisers can commission music that stands apart from old songs and covers,” said Angel. “You can call the guy who won the Oscar for Gravity or Winter’s Bone if you’re looking for something in that style. Instead of a reworked oldie, the John Lewis Christmas advert could be artists collaborating on a new piece of music.”

Angel said that his ideal would be to pair PJ Harvey, whom he signed when he was an executive at Island Records, with one of the composers – although he accepts that there are few commercial campaigns which might appeal to the singer.

It is common for directors such as Sir Ridley Scott and Baz Luhrmann to jump between the worlds of advertising and films, often pocketing large cheques to help fund their big-screen projects.

However Craig Armstrong, the Bafta-winning Scottish composer who has collaborated with Luhrmann on films including Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, and has dipped his toe into the world of advertising, prefers to keep his distance. He said: “I arranged Debussy’s ‘Claire de Lune’ for the Nicole Kidman Chanel No 5 advert with Baz [a 2003 mini-movie costing £18m] in Paris, and it was great fun, but I’m not personally attracted to making adverts as a way of making a living. I’m much more interested in scoring a film or making a record.”

Viewers will welcome the aural salvation promised by the composers who do lend their skills. Even a certain moustached opera singer may have had his day. Last year GoCompare.com posted a £10.2m drop in pre-tax profits, prompting a rethink of its musical calling card.

 

Adverts may pack the punch of films such as ‘Quantum of Solace’ (above) with composers such as David Arnold involved bloomberg

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate Start - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders