Have you passed Selfridges lately? It’s only September. Mums still have not sewn the labels on the new school gear. And yet the shop windows are dressed to the full Christmas ‘Nines’. I haven’t been inside yet, but I am guessing that it will be the whole “Jingle Bells” experience.

The Ad Industry has to keep up with High Street retailers’ demand to be the first on air with their big Christmas TV commercial. So as Music Supervisors we too have been working on Christmas ads since May!

It may seem ridiculous, but we need that extra time. It doesn’t matter how many times Creatives are advised not to fall in love with music ideas they cannot have because of legalities or costs. Time after time, we are still seeing visuals being created around tracks that haven’t been checked out and with so many more third parties involved in the Christmas ad process, this is presenting all sorts of challenges. We find that we are firefighting and soothing anxious brows even as the new school term is just rolling into view.


So here’s an early Christmas present from us for anyone who is considering music for a commercial: a ‘To-Do’ list before your team starts to throw their toys out of the pram because they can’t get what they want from their Christmas list.

  • Work with an experienced Music Supervisor from the moment someone mentions that music is part of the brief.
  • Talk to them about what you need the music to achieve, budgets and timelines.
  • Think about target markets, not just tracks that someone in the team loves. There are some brilliant Christmas gems out there that have not been licensed a thousand times before.
  • Check availability, timelines and potential fees and check again!
  • Ask yourself if you really need the original master when a track can be reimagined and re-recorded.
  • Put the tracks out to consumer research – find out if they actually ring a (Christmas) bell with key markets and why. Understanding what music elements resonate will give any commercial a huge advantage.
  • Work with the music and your music supervisor to explore and develop the visuals. One track change can affect the whole perception of a visual message. How your visual is wrapped with great music will at least create a curiosity that will take your customers beyond the ‘skip ad’ stage.

– Ruth Simmons, CEO.