Is Indie Music Swaying Geek Gadget Consumers?
  • FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2013

  • Posted by: Matt Howard

The other night, I was in my kitchen cooking up some dynamo mac n' cheese when I overheard something strangely familiar echoing from my living room television. It was the pulsating burn of Alt-J's "Fitzpleasure". I must admit, I was a bit startled. TV doesn't feature any "real" music disseminators these days, let alone a channel that would actually play a song of such a non-pop affiliated style. I leapt onto my couch (it's a small apartment) to find out the amazing song that's present on all of my pocket-sized playlists was being used in a commercial for a new Microsoft Phone. Why was a song that I hold so dearly used to soundtrack a neon-lit Vespa scooter wheelie in promotion for a phone I had never considered purchasing? And then it suddenly slapped me in the face like the climactic resolution of "Breezeblocks" - I'm the target consumer.



I'm a 25-year-old, hip [ish] male with a shit-ton of college loan debt and a mild fetish for geek gadgets, and in particluar, a devotion to anything and everything Apple. So how do you sell me something I consider the enemy? You infiltrate my consumer psyche by making me think my favorite band uses a phone that sounds more like a muscle car: the Nokia Lumina 928. This isn't the first time cell phone marketers tried to sway me with music.

Recently, Blackberry used Tame Impala's brilliantly catchy "Elephant" in a three-part commercial featuring characters from all walks of life using their Z10 device. Blackberry, a company that in my eyes is synonymous with bougie suit wearers is suddenly more appealing to anyone who enjoys one of the most infectious modern rock melodies.



This audile affiliation is a very common marketing tactic. Sure, a majority of the consumers have never heard of Alt-J or Tame Impala, but that also benefits the company who is introducing their new product with fresh and unique songs instead of the repetitive radio top-20 tunes. But the magic is how it sways consumers like me. Think of your dad, or uncle, or some older male you can imagine driving a pickup truck. He's a diehard Ford guy. How does Toyota convince him to buy the Tundra instead of a new F150? They use a tough guy's voice. Although the true voice actor is Steven Barr, there are countless message boards with people arguing who they thought was talking in the Toyota commercials. Whether it was Sam Elliott, John Goodman, or James Gammon, it was a badass, burly dude who certainly converted plenty of proud 'Mericans into Japanese pickup owners.

In my case, this isn't limited to cell phones. One of my favorite new artists in 2012, Kishi Bashi was featured in a Windows 8 commercial AND a Sony commercial in promotion of their Xperia Tablet S.




So what now? I have a cellphone contract that's due up in a few months, and for the first time in years I'm actually considering ditching the iPhone for something new and different. Is it more ignorant that I've been so long devoted to a single brand or that the use of a cool song somehow leveled the playing field between products in my eyes? #Firstworldproblems are a pain in the ass.
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