‘Som Sabadell’ – classical music and the corporate world

Yesterday I was sent a link to a YouTube video (see below) that really had me in two minds.

My first reaction when watching it was that I was moved. But, by the very end of the video, I really didn’t know what to think.

You see, the video shows an amazing scene in Sabadell, Spain (nicknamed the Catalan Manchester), where an orchestra are playing the great Beethoven classic ‘Ode to Joy’, outdoors in a square full of bystanders.

The piece starts out with a single double bassist who is slowly joined by more musicians until there is a crescendo of music played by an orchestra and choir, made up of people dressed in casual clothing, who seemingly appeared from nowhere to join in the concert.

The reaction of the crowd (that grows in size as the music builds) is extremely touching. A young girl clambers up a lamp post to get a better view of the proceedings, while others in the crowd mouth along to the words and children passionately swing their arms to the music, as if they themselves were the real conductors of the show.

At a time in Spain’s history where issues of debt and unemployment are eating away at the soul of the country, this would seem to be a perfect example of how classical music can literally bring joy to people’s hearts.

And then comes the final frame of the video…

It’s an advertisement for a Spanish bank.

What is the right approach?

You see, the corporate world and classical music are often uneasy bed-fellows. Classical music has been used to great effect in advertising in the past (think British Airways) but to use this piece, at this time, in this context, really had me wondering.

Is this the right way to use classical music? Is ‘joy’ the right sentiment to be associated with a bank in Spain right now?

Or am I thinking too deeply and should I just take the advert in the spirit of hope? Maybe this is the perfect advertisement for this time?

I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject and the film itself, so here it is.


P.S. – I just saw this intro to the performance (link below), which was provided by the bank itself. The comments are generally very positive, apart from the last one that states ‘This is lovely. But what a shame that such sublime music has to be associated with a Bank?’… I promise I didn’t write it!


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