Tom Ewing in Pitchfork Media
Against a light purple backdrop, we see the face of a gorilla. He looks– as gorillas often look– a little sad. His eyes are lowered, nostrils slowly flaring. Familiar music plays. The gorilla raises and drops his head as the music builds: It’s as if he’s getting ready for something. The camera moves to show that our gorilla is in an unusual place– sat at a drumkit, sticks in hand, his long limber arms at his side. The music continues to build and he suddenly raises his sticks, crashing them down on the drums and flinging his vast ape frame about the kit as he blasts the song into life.
This is a new advert for Cadbury Dairy Milk, the UK’s biggest chocolate brand. The gorilla is a man in a suit. The music is “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. The ad is one of the most talked about in Britain, one of the most-watched on YouTube, and is also one of the year’s best pieces of music criticism.
Or at least, it does magnificently something music criticism finds desperately hard– isolating a moment in a track and communicating it effectively. “In the Air Tonight” has picked up digital sales and now sits happily back in the UK charts. This is because of the ad, but buyers aren’t getting a video download or a free gorilla mask or anything to link the music to the advert. They’re buying the song not to relive the ad but to relive the song the way the ad uses it, highlighting the entry of the drums so memorably.