2007's Best Ad Songs

Plus Most Questionable Ad Songs of 2007

By Published on .

A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

Artist: Feist
Marketer/Product: Apple's iPod Nano
If you want to know the impact of this song in this ad, ask your mother. She could be one of the thousands of people who discovered the (relatively) unknown Leslie Feist and her blossoming songcraft through a shuffling stack of Nanos. With corporate radio more irrelevant than ever, great music is bound to sprout up somewhere, and Apple was nimble enough to pluck this one up first. (WATCH)
Artist: Architecture in Helsinki
Marketer: Sprint
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Oh, how easily this ad could have been a load of heavy-handed nonsense from a giant corporation cheaply tugging on our heartstrings to sell a handset. But it's not, and attention-deficit Australian indie-pop band Architecture in Helsinki is owed a debt of gratitude for lending their sweetly innocent vocals and helping to make this paean to childhood seem plausible instead of corny. (WATCH)
Artist: Regina Spektor
Marketer: JC Penney
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
This ad is all about an interplay between dainty bunny steps, hopping piano keys and smartly dressed people tip-toeing through life's obstacles. However, like the song, the spot is a soft sell. It's not overtly product-focused, and Ms. Spektor's voice swirls around colorful clothing like a leaf in the wind. Rarely does a song fit so well with the tempo and spirit of a spot. (WATCH)
Artist: Electric Light Orchestra
Marketer: Honda Accord
Agency: RPA
Honda pretty much let Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne do all the talking in this spot promoting the Accord's fuel efficiency and environmental chumminess, and it works. As the field of sunflowers and herds of antelope pass by in a tunnel, the influential singer's layered harmonies are the hopeful notes that keep this ad playing in your head well after it's over. (WATCH)
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson
Marketer/Product: Old Navy's Fair Isle sweater collection
Agency: Chandelier
This Old Navy ad is not artsy, fussy, hucksterish or insincere. There's no pretense of coolness, no cheap displays of nostalgia and no downbeat house music. It's just simple, elegant and pretty -- exactly how one should sell sweaters. With her warm, glossy voice, Michaelson wraps a Fair Isle sweater around love and warms it up with some unforgettable, a-capella shower-ready harmonies. (WATCH)
Artist: CocoRosie
Organization: Colorado State Tobacco Education & Prevention Partnership
Agency: Cactus
Pitched at the ankles of a forest, a young, oblong girl holds a golden "C" in her hands as CocoRosie's Bianca Casady croons about "her crazy style." Most of the target audience for this dreamy anti-smoking PSA is probably unfamiliar with the indie duo, but the song speaks so beautifully to the theme of young people making good choices that some of them may wonder who's singing. (WATCH)
Artist: Paper Scissors
Marketer: Riva
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Over a spiraling, breakneck-cowbell beat, Paper Scissors busts out a Bootsy Collins baseline and shouts vocals in this spot for Australia's Riva instant coffee. As the shopping trolleys are spinning and flavor crystals are cascading onto the floor, the track then flares up and crashes into something altogether magnificent and fairly stupid before it ends. (WATCH)
Artist: Simian
Marketer: Dove
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto
Over a montage of outdoor fashion ads and plastic-surgery scenes, Simian's "L.A. Breeze" works in much the same way as the more-austere track behind Dove's "Evolution" spot. And this time there are lyrics. In the opening sequence, Simian singer Simon Lord seems to be warning the little red-headed girl that her mind is going to be warped by the procession of images to come. (WATCH)
Artist: Phil Collins
Marketer: Cadbury Dairy Milk
Agency: Fallon, London
Even before Phil Collins's mammoth drum-fill payoff, this ad is so absurd you have to giggle, even if you're not really sure why. And it's also OK if you have no idea what this iconic song has to do with chocolate or an ape, because Cadbury is trying to say that some of the best things in life -- candy, Phil Collins, etc. -- don't have to make sense. (WATCH)
Artist: Wilco
Marketer: Volkswagen
Agency: Crispin Porter & Bogusky
This was one of three VW spots alt-country band Wilco used to show off tracks from this year's "Sky Blue Sky." Just as voiceover man John Cusack says "You just can't stand the idea of being apart," Jeff Tweedy's scathing solo slides into a heartbreaking figure and a guy jumps out of his Jetta. The implicit love triangle between car and girl becomes explicit, as does Wilco's role in the spot. (WATCH)

Most Questionable Ad Songs of 2007

(Click song titles to watch)
Artist: CSS
Marketer/Product: Apple iPod Touch
Microsoft ran a Zune spot with the same song last year. Woops.
Artist: Lifehouse
Marketer: Dodge
Agency: BBDO
Dodge insults our intelligence and worse, makes driving seem lame, with this obvious pop song.
Artist: Jet
Marketer: Verizon
Agency: McCann Erickson, New York
The title says everything you need to know about Fios, but nothing of the long-term effects of repeated viewings of this ad.
Artist: Kathy Fisher
Marketer: CVS Pharmacy
Agency: Hill Holliday, Boston
In an ad aimed at care-givers, this song tastes like that extra lump of sugar that sends your coffee spraying across the room.
Artist: Saliva
Marketer: Sony PS3
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day
Perhaps Sony wanted to remind us all of its heyday in the late '90s. Why else would they throw this grimy wad of Saliva at us?
Artist: Sial
Marketer: Quiksilver
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
When did surfing, the most Zen of sports, become another adolescent exercise in macho excess?
Artist: Carrie Underwood
Marketer: Target
Agency: Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis
This spot transforms an overwrought ballad about keeping it real to Carrie just being pretty in a field of butterflies.
Artist: Michael Andrews
Marketer: Ford Mondeo
Agency: Ogilvy, London
Despite the fact that it literally works, this seems an unfortunate choice for moving cars on the showroom floor.
Artist: Iron Maiden
Marketer/Product: Sony HD TVs
Agency: Fallon
The lyric "spit back in their face" as water crashes down a slide -- funny. But the ironic humor of metalmania is history.
Artist: The Vines
Marketer: Nissan
Agency: Zimmerman, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The "garage-rock revival" doesn't need resusciating by marketers looking for edginess and a cheap shout-along tagline.

Read more about music-branding at Ad Age's Songs for Soap blog.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the 'Ordinary Miracle' song in the CVS spot as being sung by Sarah McLachlan. It was in fact performed by Kathy Fisher.
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