The Power of Song – Wave Your Flag


Paul Provost
6P Marketing

  • Do you ever catch yourself singing in your car on your way to work?
  • Ever cried watching a commercial?
  • If you look around your office, do you hear music playing or see people connected to their iPods?


Music is a powerful device. South Africa Flag
Music can bring sadness, happiness, anger, sexual tension, nostalgia and/or an insatiable desire to dance or sing in the most unnatural of places (like your car on your way to work). People often connect popular music with certain events in their lives. For example, I remember the song that played during the final dance at my high school prom. I remember the first songs my sons sang along to.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been humming, singing and dancing to one song. It’s a song that is simply fun, positive and uplifting. This song has also infected those are around me. I send my kids to school humming it and catch myself singing portions of it throughout the day. If you can’t tell… I really like this song.

K'Naan FIFA World Cup of SoccerThe song in question is "Waving Flag" by K’Naan. You’ve heard it, it’s the official theme song for the FIFA World Cup of soccer this year. Along with being extremely catchy, this song has some fairly unique and interesting marketing surrounding it. Coca-Cola has blended it into its current marketing and will be featuring it in all of its international advertising (online, TV, etc). K’Naan will also be singing during an 86 country “FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola.”

“Wavin’ Flag” was first released in March of 2009, but it was only once the Celebration Mix was released (April 30, 2010), that "Wavin' Flag" ascended to the summit of the national charts in Germany, Switzerland and Austria as well as number two in the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and Ireland.

Coca-Cola’s marketers recognized that this song, among the millions out there, had the potential to tie together their Enjoy Happiness theme and the international phenomenon of FIFA World Cup Soccer. Coca-Cola even integrated its jingle, well known from previous Coca-Cola commercials, generating a direct association between the remixed song and the brand. The new mix even had lyric adjustments that removed some of the “darker lyrics of the original song.” According to Billboard, Coca-Cola "loved the song but noted that lyrical references to 'a violent prone, poor people zone' and people 'struggling, fighting to eat' didn't fit the campaign's themes."

So, what would possess Coca-Cola to incorporate this strategy?

Music has the ability to get people’s attention and attract large crowds - Radio advertisers have long understood the power of music in commercials to capture people’s attention. Research has confirmed this, showing that music activates the area of the brain involved with paying attention.

Music aids recall of advertising messages - People are more likely to recall advertising messages that use music. Those listening to the advertisement will sing along, which increases their involvement with the advertisement and the likelihood they will remember it.

Music is effective in distinguishing a brand - Music can help a product stand out in a crowded marketplace. Choosing young, hip music by a band like Phoenix lends instant credibility in the 20-25 hipster demographic, while choosing a song by Bobby Darin will elicit a response from Grampa Bill. The right song has the power to say “Hi. This is for you. Listen up.”

This quote says it all I think: "Of the three elements going into most television commercials--picture, voice, and music--certainly the most important, emotionally and from the point of view of setting the mood, is the music" (Wainwright 214).

PS- If you are interested in human behaviour and harmless experiments, try this - Hum a popular tune sporadically throughout your workday and see who you can catch humming or singing it back to you. It’s a great way to illustrate how people can recall songs, or feelings from songs from a mere mention. Example songs to try include "Desperado," the Cheers theme song and humming the Nah Nah Nah part of "Hey Jude."

Send me an email and let me know how it goes!

Credit: Wainwright, Charles Anthony. Television Commercials. New York: Hastings House, 1970.

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