Commercializing the Classics

Nicole Kidman - ChanelThis segment of Fun Friday originally appeared on November 8, 2013. Don’t want to wait until Friday for your dose of classical music humor? Check out the archive of  Fun Friday posts.

I don’t watch much television. We didn’t have one during my early formative years and I think it has made me particularly averse to sitting still in front of screens. I also despise commercials. I loathe their urgency, seductive powers, and volume. (I have nearly met my end on many a treadmill due to the surprising and startling decibel level of our adverts). But every so often a great marketing team gets it right and looks to the greats for inspiration. Here are some important classical works that you will undoubtedly recognize.

1. Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Specifically, the opening “O Fortuna”

I don’t think that Carl Orff had sports performance drinks, deodorant, or beer in mind when he penned “O Fortuna”. Check out these commercials and see if you don’t start to feel sweaty, smelly, or thirsty.

Check out all of Carmina Burana to hear some truly terrifying and beautiful tunes. I also recommend getting a translation of the Latin. There is some spicy stuff in there.

Here is a complete performance of the piece by the Berlin Philarmonic.

Side note: I always thought Kellogg’s should use “Ego Sum Abbas” from Carmina Burana for an Eggos commercial. In my mind, it goes something like this: A baritone is preparing for a performance, but discovers that, oh no the tenor stole his Eggo. He angrily sings: “Leggo my Eggo. Leggo my Eggo”. “Waaaaaaffffles” Then the chorus echoes “Waffles” Baritone: “Waaaaafles” Chorus: “Waffles”. You get the idea. (Kellogg’s: call me for this and other great ideas I have for marketing campaigns)

2. Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”.
How does a vampire woo a mortal? With Debussy of course! (Great hair doesn’t hurt either). Thank you, Stephenie Meyer for bringing Twihard attention to the classics.
(Skip to 1:35 for the good stuff)

Do you like luxury?

According to some accounts, this Chanel commercial cost $33 million, making it the most expensive commercial ever made. At least they saved money on the tune. Oh the romance of it all…

Performance by pianist Claudio Arrau

3. Thank you, Ludwig, for great free domain inspiration. You have saved ad campaigns millions with your timeless classic.
Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

Why you know it:

Google Chrome

The Gen Xers out there may remember this one (Jump to 29 seconds in)

4. Bach’s “Cello Suites”, more specific: “The Prelude”
Performed by Yo-Yo Ma

AmEx really captures the emotional essence of this piece. I love the buildup.

5. The epitome of “epic”: “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss

You know it from:

And more famously: 2001:Space odyssey

Here’s a list of all the of the films feature “Zarathustra” 

Have fun exploring the greats! Check back Fridays for more “A Thing or Two About a Tune or Two”.

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