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Conversation With David Whittle, Managing Director Of MandCSaatchi Australia,


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Jakomi Mathews caught up with David Whittle, Managing Director of MandCSaatchi Australia, last week attending the Melbourne installment of global digital marketing conference Ad:Tech. For all your music sync and publishing company personnel this is a very in depth treat which provides deep insight into how agencies view working with music artists.

How do brands measure advocacy?

It’s the question most of our prospective clients ask us is how do you measure advocacy for your clients? And it comes down to two simple things; its what people say and what people do. The most important thing is to delineate between those two. As you know, what you say and what you actually do are quite often different. When it comes down to brand advocacy that point is even more. So, when measuring using tools such as net promoter type of approach is a really valid and valuable method of measuring advocacy. But what that does is just understand what people say about a brand. And that is just what they say which is very different to what they do.

To me what people actually do is more interesting. And that behavior is more interesting. In many instances it is also more insightful. It is not just about taking an input about sales of a product – that is indicative of purchases. We work for example with Woolworths, where we have gained a good understanding through their everyday rewards program. We now have a good understating of cross product purchases. So, an advocate of a particular type of tuna for example we can actually see and understand that in the data now.

So, shopping behavior is one thing they do. The other thing they do is that we can record all of the conversations they have in publicly available social media. That is probably the biggest breakthrough in this space. Finally, marketers are taking and accepting that measure of advocacy very seriously and we are using it to make very serious decisions, about marketing, about product and distribution – all those fundamentals of marketing.

The beautiful part of the social media monitoring is the immediacy to it all. That provides clients and agencies with insights that are often immediate. The combination of what people say and what they do is where we get our insight into brand advocacy. It’s not just one dimensional anymore it is multi-dimensional. I think it is important to consider and wait, as all of those different inputs according to how they are going to recognized by the client or in the context of the division of information.

What do brands bring to music in terms of creative branding campaigns?

There is a huge opportunity for brands to leverage artists. And that has been going on forever. It is nothing new, it’s not a new strategy or initiative. The things we are seeing today have been going on a long time, whether that be dressing artists or making sure they are drinking the right whiskey or wearing the right boots. I think what is interesting however is the value exchange and what the artist is losing sometimes because of the connection with the brand.

I went to see a concert in Australia a number of years ago that was sponsored by McDonalds, and it was a fantastic tie up that McDonalds had done. The artist actually sang their line as part of one of his songs. Now if that is not a great brand play, I do not know what is. But what would be interesting to understand is that the brand benefited hugely from that tie up not just explicitly but also implicitly. But the issue was in my mind and I’m sure also in the managers mind was what it did to the artist? It actually in some instances in the eyes of the audience diluted the artist’s integrity and connection with those consumers. And that can obviously get dangerous.

But there is a huge amount of opportunity in concerts through live and also right through the mix. EMI is one of our clients here in Australia. Last year we connected a song from an emerging artist called Miami Horror with Optus a very established telecommunications company. That television commercial did two things; it used an amazing track from Miami Horror, which connected to the audience and was absolutely spot on. The other dimension for Miami Horror was that it launched their song into the mainstream and so it had that duality of benefit on both sides.

All of these things come back to one comment point: to ensure that there is a fair and equal trade. And that it is not just the money that the artist is getting. I think that is a real watch out for the artist to make sure they are not selling out. Which is the common problem that has been going on.

Do you find that some of the publishers and even the labels are just after the money and are almost neglecting that aspect of being prepared to do an equal trade? 

I think that is what is interesting there is that a good manager or management business is going to be looking after the long-term interests of the artists. Now the short-term interests of the Artist if a manager is incentivized like that is a pretty immediate way to kill a band or act. In the long-term it is crucial to balance that. In many instances artists are under immense pressure to pay back the label, publisher and management company. But if they believe in the artist, they need to stick it out and ensure they don’t erode the integrity and the connection with their audience just for the sake of five, ten or fifty thousand dollars up front.

I think it is really interesting to see recently what has happened with all of these world-famous artists and Ghaddafi. I think that is a prime example of where things go wrong. Interestingly all of those artists not only have lost some credibility, they have also lost a whole lot of “money” because they have given it back. But they have also lost a lot of time. If you’re an artist with a five-year peak career a day or two or even one week out of your schedule is a huge amount out of your monetizable career. It is pretty scary I hate that there could be instances where that happens the trade is inequitable and the future benefit is not calculated or even considered. That is what worries me.

What are the wider opportunities for brands to utilize music/artists/live concerts to deliver acquisition, advocacy and prevent churn? What are the benefits for the artists concerned?

What is your opinion on advertising funded services in terms of – will they work by delivering viable incomes for services themselves, labels and artists (essentially what I’m getting at here is their really enough digital advertising/marketing campaigns to support all the streaming music services out their like, Spotify, MOG, We7.com, muzu.tv etc.)?

I think it is a fantastic question and one that is relevant all types of content it doesn’t matter whether that is text, image, audio or video. All content is funded in some way, shape or form by advertising or a promotion of some description. You look at Pandora for example is an amazing service. Sadly, we do not have it in Australia. I’m an avid long-term member and user of last.fm. I love it. It is a part of my day-to-day life. It is something I find very useful and any advertising in it is an equitable trade. The real opportunity in the business is not just serving music but also video content has exactly the same challenge.

And that is just like all the traditional publishers, newspapers, broadcast and television is to deliver relevance to consumers. That’s the bottom line. That is the undoing or the formula of success of these advertisers’ funded businesses. Because as you know they are all accountable now. The measurement around them is fantastic and what that means is that there are no secrets or smoke and mirrors. So, when you’re advertising you can more accurately measure response.

How do they do that through last.fm? Through good use of data. That is the crucial part. So, the crucial part to these services whoever they might be is to collect data about what consumers say and what consumers do. So, take those two datasets combine them with the client’s datasets and you achieve very powerful inferences. And it is those powerful inferences that should be driving an ad server that makes the decision of which ad to serve to which person and when. That’s what makes the opportunity that these businesses have got.

If they don’t do that they will struggle, unless they move over to a hybrid model like many of them have to subscriber models. And again, history repeats itself, newspaper, magazines, they are all the same. They all operate on the same model. And they have all over the years worked out what is the right relationship and what is the right balance between them. But now as it’s all transparent and it’s all measured and accountable it makes it more difficult for them. But at the same time, they have the data so they should be able to make better decisions.

That is super fascinating that whole space is using all these datasets to understand what consumers want and are interested in. Ultimately, their permission of good marketing to deliver relevance (12:50 mins) to consumers.

What is your favorite brand campaign that really worked primarily because of the music? 

There is a favorite for many different reasons. Not because it is my favorite song, not because it is my favorite product and not because it is my favorite execution of a campaign. It would be the usage of CSS’s ‘Music is my hot sex’ and you may remember an Apple commercial some time ago. Now what I like about that is the story behind it.

Because that song was taken by a kid, a student, who mashed it up with an existing iPod ad that was on the market, mashed it up put it to that song, put it on YouTube, drove heaps of traffic and the guys from the agency or Apple contacted this student and asked him if it would be ok to turn it into a broadcast ad. Obviously, he said yes and the rest is history. What I love about that is that it is a crowd-sourced example, it was incredibly cost effective (obviously they had to pay all the license fees), it was using all the mediums and data points. Why send something to research, when the research has been done by the YouTube universe have told Apple that this ad is popular so may as well run it.

What is also interesting is that there is another back story is that exact same song was used for a Microsoft Zune promotion prior to that point. Which ads a whole new dimension, they are the reasons I like it because there is a bit of history and cloak and dagger, its consumer generated which is fantastic and it is a great example of a brand recognizing that and taking it all the way to broadcast and it is a very simple ad.

Going further is there an opportunity for more agencies setting up record labels as with HAVAS and their ‘The-Hours’ label? What are they key benefits in such a set-up for?

a). Brands/agencies and; 

b). Artists/labels?

What is interesting about that is that if you look at all marketing services groups in the industry, there is one consistent pattern and that is that they are going both ways moving up and down the supply chain of marketing services. One element of marketing services is using audio content, whether it is a voice over, or a music track, to accentuate and make a campaign work. Now because of that, it is an obvious addition for a big marketing services group to add to their mix.

What that means is that it is just another element that they are making margin and most importantly that they can understand why this is important to brands and their clients to drive sales. So, will we see it happen more and more? I have no doubt it will because it is following that supply chain strategy.

But what is the benefit for brands and agencies? At the moment it is probably tenuous and it goes all the way back to the board of those agencies and senior management of those agencies to help understand, what business they are in, what business they are going to be in, in the future and that’s quite important.

The benefit to the artist and labels is well, it provides them with more choice, and choice is always good. Choice is a burden sometimes however. The other thing is that it is a bit of a risk for some artists because what will invariably happen is that marketing services group is aligned to clients and there are lots of competitive issues. That could limit artists and labels from selling their content to different and broad clients.

The form/manner in which you believe music/artist brand relationships will or should take in the future?

I think what is interesting is will we see a brand connecting with an artist early on in their career where the artist and a brand take a journey together of their growth, success and popularity? I believe that is happening now, and it has happened if you look at some famous and not necessarily in music, but other people in other performing arts who are connecting themselves with a fashion label for example. They have grown with that fashion label, and that is an interesting example of what could happen and provide an opportunity to latch onto a product.

However, does that undermine their artistic integrity? Is that their creative integrity? Is it too limiting? I think it is very difficult, but increasingly as music becomes even more commoditized, it is another option for artists to make money and to earn a living more than having it as a hobby.

What is the music service you like most (i.e. that you use for your own personal use)? Same goes for music device?

I love Pandora and all of the great examples many of them we can’t use in Australia. Last.fm as I previously stated as well, yet I just snack on it I do not use it all the time. Obviously like many others I use including iTunes. But interestingly I use YouTube a lot, and YouTube is built and designed itself to run playlists and be a great music product. I believe there is probably an insight there for brands and marketers for how consumers are listening to music; because they are not just listening to music, they are watching music.

So, there is this whole other dimension to what they are consuming and I think that ties back into what we were discussing before about how brands can work with artists and labels together. That is a very big opportunity.

I like to turn on my late 80’s Bang and Olufsen stereo and play a CD. I get great satisfaction from it and it avoids this music smacking. Many of the old artists they wrote an album to be played as an album and that is something that I think is lacking at the moment.




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