Happily Ever After? Band/Brand Partnerships Feeling the Love


TMV’s London staff writer Laura G Thorne continues her analysis and coverage of several recent London conferences discussing music and brands:

This past month, London has been host to several events highlighting the relationship between music and advertising, film and video games. On Wednesday September 28, 2 Pears (facilitators of peer2peer networking and collaboration specialising in creative and startup companies) presented “Brand Discovery…Leveraging Music Tech: Brands, Bands & Beyond”, while on Thursday evening September 29 the Music Managers Forum took a swing at the same topic from the artist manager’s point of view with “Bands & Brands: Reaching For Higher Love”, (part of an ongoing series).

2Pears Brand Discovery event
Brand Discovery Panelists Ross Dines (Jazz@Pizza Express), Eric Sheinkop (MusicDealers) & Richard Kirstein (Resilient Music)
Both events featured speakers of the highest calibre and offered an overview of the various aspects involved in connecting the dots between talent, brand and intermediary, whether manager or label. It seems simple on one hand, yet engineering that right mix of artist, brand and agency may be closer to getting into heaven through the eye of the needle, depending upon one’s position in the ecosystem.  However, the upside is that the opportunities for creative partnerships and innovation exist in ever-increasing multitude, with both artists and advertisers circling and checking each other out with greater interest than ever before. Is it true love? Perhaps not, but regardless there is a mutual benefit that offers artists (and their proxy) new paths to exposure and revenue beyond the conventional record company model.

One example that represents the new paradigm is that of footwear and athletic brand Puma.  This is a company that has put itself forth as much more than a product and has sought to create an identity that reflects the values of their customers while also shaping their worldview. Puma’s site includes a DJ booth, as well as lifestyle video content in addition to the usual information about their shoes and clothing. This is about community as well as commerce, though the skeptics among us might ask which tail is wagging which dog in this scenario. However there’s no question that some artists have benefited from these associations and have used them as launch pads to wider commercial success.

Madonna Partners With Smirnoff Vodka
Some of these deals are not even synch as classically defined, but collaborative in the sense that the artist and their music is no longer anonymous but rather central to the campaign.  In the example of Madonna and drinks brand heavyweight Diageo for Smirnoff, their “Nightlife Exchange Project” will “discover, share and swap the most original nightlife experiences in 50 countries”. Madonna will then judge a competition whereby the winner will be invited to be a dancer on her next tour.
A clever ad campaign, joining picture to well-chosen song can definitely generate warm fuzzies for the brand. One particularly good example of this was the John Lewis ad featuring Billy Joel’s “Always A Woman To Me,” as covered by Fyfe Dangerfield, which is well on its way to becoming the stuff of legend amongst advertising creatives.  The positive word-of-mouth and goodwill that resulted was fantastic for John Lewis, and also caused Billy Joel’s original recording to re-enter the UK charts at #29.
Susan Stone, Owner/Creative Director Tonic
Susan Stone, Owner/Creative Director Tonic
As Susan Stone, Owner/Creative Director of Tonic observed at the Brand Discovery conference, “those who are impressed, express” – indeed the pot of gold at the end of every marketer’s rainbow.

Many of the speakers at 2 Pears’ Brand Discovery event either represented apps developers or referred to favourite apps during their presentations.  The digital toolbox indeed floweth over: Thinglink, Shazam, Flowd, Topspin, Mobile Roadie & Buzzdeck among hundreds (if not thousands) of others combine the ability to track data with novel approaches to promotion that can be a bonanza when exploited by a savvy marketer.  However, as the French say, “Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose” – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Those who think that digital promotion is a new breed unrelated to its traditional marketing antecedents are naïve (and usually waste a lot of their client’s money). Yes, it is a brave new world, but those who understand the old world may be better able to exploit it.

Wilhelm Taht, Marketing Director of Flowd, noted that at last measure over “70K terrabytes of data are passing through Facebook’s servers daily”, and that by now the number was probably much larger. So while fan engagement and community building using social interaction are the bread-and-butter of many a new media marketer, acquiring fans or large numbers of likes and shares are not actually the point unless doing so is in service of the larger result.  The metrics to assess the actual merits of a campaign are in the cash drawer, and that has not changed.

Ultimately, each of the recent events focusing on the intersection of music and brands reveal that even within the downturn of the music industry as a whole, demand still remains. For those with the vision to recognise (or create) an opportunity by fitting together product with content in an authentic way, the rewards will be significant.

The John Lewis ad:



Though born in Ealing, Laura only recently returned to London after establishing her music industry bona fides in San Francisco, California, where she rubbed elbows with the top players in jazz as Marketing Director for boutique concert promoter Stanford Jazz Workshop. Her background also includes marketing, PR & production duties for several independent labels such as Primarily A Cappella and Tinder Records, and she was producer for award-winning sound design and commercial music house Ripe Sound (with credits including SFX work for Electronic Arts and Disney and ad campaigns for international brands T-Mobile and Capital One). Laura is a former bassist/singer/songwriter who (still) lives to rock and likes it loud. She has a degree qualification in English to help her write and talk nice.

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