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?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum