By logic this shouldn’t have worked

Having worked with A LOT of ad agencies, I can tell you that there’s one thing that almost all of them do:


It’s what the ad agency industry lives on.

And there’s a fairly routine formula that most ad agencies rely on when it comes to pitching:

A mood film, comprising feel-good clips from the big and small screen that convey the desired emotion, and a music track that suits the clips.

And in almost all cases, the rights in the music aren’t cleared at this point, as the usage is solely within a private meeting room.

However, if the pitch is won, then often the client will expect the exact same music in the final campaign.

I remember a situation where this nearly got an agency into hot water…

It was early one morning, when a senior agency account director popped into my office to ask about a track that would be used in a pitch in just over an hour’s time.

The client was an airline, and the music was a famous track about flying (you’ll know it!).

I was posed the question: “Do you think we’ll be able to use this track if we win the pitch?”

My response probably wasn’t quite what he was expecting:

“You do know that the songwriter died in a plane crash, don’t you?”

The blood drained from his face, and with a few murmured words he left the room.

Lo and behold, the agency won the pitch, so it was then up to us to try and clear the song – a task we weren’t exactly optimistic about.

Amazingly we somehow got the green light, but it made me realise how easily it could have gone the other way.

Whenever you’re considering the use of a song on an upcoming campaign, it’s always wise to check the feasibility of clearance as early as possible – never leave it to chance.