×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Songs for Screens: Hip-Hop, Sony/ATV Lead 2018 Super Bowl Ads (Watch)

Songs for Screens” (formerly known as “Synch This”) is a Variety column written by Andrew Hampp, a VP at New York-based music sponsorship and experiential agency MAC Presents and former branding correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as new and catalog songs that we deem ripe for synch use.

Hip-hop had a major commercial breakthrough in 2017 after becoming the most-consumed genre in popular music for the first time ever last July, according to Nielsen Music. And during Sunday night’s Super Bowl LII, hip-hop enjoyed the next level of commercial breakthrough – a record number of songs and artists from the genre appeared in popular ads during TV’s most-watched event.

Rappers Cardi B, Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott appeared in popular spots for Amazon and Doritos & Mtn Dew, respectively, which featured their music, while Big Sean and Iggy Azalea both made surprise appearances alongside their synchs in spots for Quicken Loans and Monster Electronics. And on the synch-only side, Scottish DJ-producer Sam Gellaitry won big by scoring the soundtrack for Diet Coke’s first Super Bowl spot in 21 years, showcasing the brand’s Twisted Mango flavor.



“Overall, it was a great year for licensed music, with a healthy mix of catalog and frontline songs being used in big brand spots,” says Jeannette Perez, president of global synch and brand partnerships at Kobalt Music, who helped place five Kobalt writers in spots this year including Gellaitry for Diet Coke and Kesha’s “Boogie Feet” for Pepsi. “However, between [Cardi B’s] ‘Bodak Yellow’ in Amazon, [Chris Brown’s] ‘Look At Me Now’ in Doritos, [Missy Elliott’s] ‘Get Ur Freak On’ in Mountain Dew, [Sam Gellaitry’s] ‘Long Distance’ in Diet Coke and [Big Sean’s] ‘Bounce Back’ in Rocket Mortgage, among others, hip-hop was the big winner this year. Each of those spots featured the songs alongside great creative, which not only elevated the campaigns but also placed the spots squarely into today’s hip-hop driven pop culture.”

Among all publishers, Sony/ATV booked the most synchs with 10 songs placed in brand commercials that aired nationally during the game. Highlights included writers Will Powers and Sting’s cult hit “Adventures In Success” for Squarespace’s Keanu Reeves-starring spot, Ben E. King, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller’s Budweiser remake of “Stand By Me” and Dodge RAM’s Vikings-themed ad that utilized Queen’s lesser-known “fast” version of “We Will Rock You,” recorded for the BBC in 1977.

Universal Music Publishing Group helped place eight, including Big Sean’s “Bounce Back” for Quicken Loans and Keith Sweat’s “Nobody” for AmazonIndie publisher BMG also landed eight placements, including two major looks for its clients Aerosmith and Nirvana with Kia and T-Mobile, respectively. “This year’s Super Bowl saw a rich pairing of BMG’s frontline and iconic catalog spots with celebrities taking a more visible role in commercials such as Steven Tyler in KIA, as well as an overall sense of nostalgia and hope,” says Alex Flores, BMG’s senior VP of marketing, commercials, film and television, who noted that this year’s negotiations were particularly frantic. “Even up until Saturday evening we were still negotiating a handful of spots that were set to air during the Super Bowl.” Healthy ad budgets and usages that were contracted for up to one year of TV and online airings helped the top five music publishers post year-over-year revenue increases as high as 25%, while pricing for individual synchs this year varied from $100,000 to upwards of $750,000, depending on length of use, previous licenses for the song and notoriety of the artist.


Tom Eaton, senior VP of music for advertising at UMPG, applauded marketers to taking a few creative risks. “From current hits and breakthrough talent, to past classics and under-the-radar international acts, the spectrum of UMPG songs used in Super Bowl syncs this year is an outstanding reflection of the strength and diversity of our catalog,” he says.

Thirty-second spots for this year’s game sold for a record $5 million apiece, and finally sold out Friday night, as Variety previously reported. But many marketers took advantage of NBC’s flexible ad lengths, which went as short as :6 – most notably Tide, who aired over a half-dozen commercials of varying runtimes throughout the night featuring “Stranger Things” star David Harbour.

More TV

  • Crazy Rich Asians

    Singapore Sees Rise in Co-productions, Competes for Foreign Projects

    As Singapore’s stature continues to grow in the entertainment world, and with international producers forever on the lookout for exotic but affordable locations, the Asian country is once again in global sights as a major production hub. Singapore’s distinctive topography of cityscapes and countryside, coupled with its unique cultural blend of East and West, has [...]

  • Charlie Corwin and John Penotti SK

    S.K. Global Makes Mipcom Debut With 'Crazy Rich Asians' Under Its Belt

    “To me, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, maybe we should wake up one morning and try something different. How about we try television?’” John Penotti, producer-financier and co-founder of GreeneStreet, one of New York City’s more long-lived independent film companies — it was acquired in 2013 after 16 years — is explaining just how he ended [...]

  • singapore Skyline

    Netflix, HBO, Other Global Content Creators Set Up Asian Bases in Media-Friendly Singapore

    Netflix runs its Asian operations from the swanky Marina One mixed-use development in Singapore, an architectural masterpiece that fits in with the streaming giant’s dedication to Instagrammable real estate. Netflix’s presence in Singapore follows other major media names over the years, including HBO Asia, Vice Media and HOOQ, all of whom have Asian headquarters in [...]

  • Sidney Kimmel film financier

    Television — Sidney Kimmel's Next Act Bows at Mipcom

    During the course of his 91 years, Sidney Kimmel has accomplished a lot. That includes making a few videos for web series “Old Jews Telling Jokes.” “John’s fault,” he says. “He dragged me over there and said, ‘You’ll get a free drink and a dinner out of it.’” John is independent movie producer-financier John Penotti, [...]

  • The Outpost -- "One is the

    Electric Entertainment Launching OTT Channel Electric Now (EXCLUSIVE)

    U.S.-based producer and distributor Electric Entertainment is launching Electric Now, a linear OTT channel that will feature its top series and library content. The channel will have episodes of “The Outpost,” the fantasy-adventure series that has just had its third season greenlit by U.S. network The CW. The new season will head into production in [...]

  • American dollars bills and coinsAmerican cash,

    Entertainment Biz Comes Under Fire for Assistants' Low Wages, Working Conditions

    It’s no secret that many assistants in Hollywood bear heavy workloads for low pay. But the entertainment industry’s labor practices when it comes to those workers have now become the subject of intense social-media scrutiny. TV writer and WGA board member Liz Alper shone a light on the issue Monday with the creation of the [...]

  • Megyn Kelly

    Tucker Carlson Plans Megyn Kelly Interview on Fox News Channel

    Megyn Kelly is returning to Fox News Channel – briefly. Tucker Carlson has scheduled an interview Wednesday with the former Fox News and NBC News anchor, who will make her first appearance on her former employer’s programming since leaving in early 2017. The “Tucker Carlson Tonight” segment would also mark Kelly’s first appearance on a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content