Recycling sound in Commercials

Charlotte Rørdam Larsen


Commercials offer the opportunity for intergenerational memory and impinge on cultural memory. TV commercials for foodstuffs often make reference to past times as a way of authenticating products. This is frequently achieved using visual cues, but in this paper I would like to demonstrate how such references to the past and ‘the good old days’ can be achieved through sounds. In particular, I will look at commercials for Danish non-dairy spreads, especially for OMA margarine. These commercials are notable in that they contain a melody and a slogan – ‘Say the name: OMA margarine’ – that have basically remained the same for 70 years. Together these identifiers make OMA an interesting Danish case to study. With reference to Ann Rigney’s memorial practices or mechanisms, the study aims to demonstrate how the auditory aspects of Danish margarine commercials for frying tend to be limited in variety: in general, the soundtracks of margarine commercials seem to merge into one, they are somewhat alike. The OMA commercials are no exception, but the OMA melody makes a distinction. In general the soundtracks of OMA margarine commercials (and the use of melody) seem to have shifted from using a predominantly semantic causal soundtrack to tracks using aesthetic and musicalised elements which are supposed to arouse more sensuous feelings in the consumers.


sound; cultural memory; commercials

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ISSN: 1904-500X

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