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Osborne Brothers' "Sun Ain’t Even Gone Down Yet” accompanies popular Ram Trucks commercial.

Where Were Auto Brands’ Songs of Summer?

As 2023 advertising shows, many automotive brands tried to carve out their own lane with a song – even if the track wasn’t necessarily new.

For consumers, the top song of summer changes from year to year around the newest sounds. But for brands, picking the right track for summer ads is a much more careful calculation that aims to appeal to likely car buyers, rather than pool partygoers.

Data from Songtradr dives into the music choices from some of the summer’s top automotive ads, what those spots may share in common, and where they differ.

Ram’s “Opportunity” spot enjoyed a significant amount of airtime this summer, backed by an energetic and positive country music soundtrack from “Sun Ain’t Even Gone Down Yet” by Brothers Osborne. The track was released this past July, so Ram was able to tie a brand affinity benefit to the song as it grew in popularity. Songtradr data shows that the song’s score climbed from 0 to 58 (out of 100) by Spotify popularity in the time since the Ram ad first appeared.

Chevrolet used a wider variety of music in its top TV commercials, which varied by the spot. While one ad included Pigeon John & Spencer Ludwig’s bluesy pop song “Step On Out,” another utilized Cal Dodds’ “Live For Days” country selection. Both tracks are relatively new, debuting in the past three months, giving Chevy an exclusive association with the songs. 

But Chevy zagged away from that approach with its “Your Road to Happiness” ad featuring the 1999 pop hit “Steal My Sunshine.” Songtradr ranks the song high on energy (92%), which is perhaps why three different movies/shows also used it in the past year (Twisted Metal, The Challenge, Moonshine). A T-Pain version of the song is also being actively used by Lipton right now.

Ford went even further back into the music archives for its “Get Out There” spot, which includes the 1970 hit Creedence Clearwater Revival track “Up Around the Bend.” Songtradr data shows the song scores well for energy (86%) and actually hasn’t been used in TV, movies or console titles since 2018’s Far Cry 5 game. However, the track was utilized in a co-branded spot by Applebee’s and Lucasfilm for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny earlier this year.

For Hyundai and GMC, the approach veered away from country and rock, and instead toward reggae and hip hop, respectively. Hyundai’s “Get In and Get Away: Cape Cod” uses the highly danceable “Make Me Feel Good (Alright With Me)” by Todd Carey, La Felix & Kash’d Out, while GMC harnesses the positive energy of “The Seed 2.0” from The Roots in “Outside and In.” 

Songtradr data shows “The Seed 2.0” scores a 97% for positivity and 96% for energy, but surprisingly has no recent use in ads or other media. As a result, GMC is able to create standalone brand affinity with the popular song (over 126 million Spotify streams all-time) despite it coming out 21 years ago.

As 2023 shows, many brands tried to carve out their own lane with a song – even if the track wasn’t necessarily new. For advertisers that selected a sound that was immediately recognizable, energy still seemed to be a major factor as a way to create positive momentum toward purchase interest.

Data provided by Songtradr, the world's largest full-stack B2B music platform.

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