Let the music play

Using music is a good way for brands to reach wider audiences. But it’s not just a case of picking music that sounds good, it has to connect with the brand and the consumers. By Steve Hemsley

The%20StrokesIf you know the tune to the Foundations’ 1968 hit Build Me Up Buttercup join in now…
"Why don’t you lift a cup
(Lift a cup)
Of Typhoo Tea baby
And just drink it down
Coz it’s perfectly ground
And then best of all
(Best of all)
Its foil-packed wrapper
Keeps it fresh and sound
All year round…"

Not convinced? Okay, how about a Typhoo-version of Dusty Springfield’s I Only Wanna Be With You?

"No matter what I brew,
I only wanna drink Typhoo."

Enough? These doctored versions of classic songs were sung with gusto by staff from experiential marketing agency Sense during more than 80 live events organised for Typhoo at supermarkets around the country.

This use of music enhanced what might otherwise have been a rather drab sampling exercise for a range of teas. The agency reached its target of distributing 4,000 cups of tea a day at every store.

For years brands have exploited the power of music to build relationships with consumers by playing on our emotions. Advertising agencies have pondered long and hard how to get the balance right between choosing a soundtrack that is right for the creative but which also appeals to the target audience. Marketers are facing the same challenge when choosing music for live events.

Research by Millward Brown has discovered that 97% of all brand communication tends to focus on two senses, sight and sound. With so much visual marketing clutter sound, and in particular music, is proving increasingly popular.

A separate study by Entertainment Media Research claims only 12% of consumers are negative towards the concept of brands linking with music, with teenagers the most receptive.

Singing the right tune
If agencies are to get the most out of their use of a well-known or unusual tune for a retail road show or as part of a client’s involvement in a full-blown music festival, they need to understand the "sound" of a particular brand. Companies must choose the right genre, artist and media to carry the message and then ensure their choices match the brand’s own values. A brand that wants to be viewed as energetic or rebellious at an event must ensure the music mirrors that image.

"Marketers must also select music that reflects the environment and has empathy with the people who will attend," says Ruth Simmons, managing director of music consultancy Soundlounge. "Failure to take the music seriously when planning an event can lead to a negative effect on a brand if the tempo or lyrics are deemed inappropriate."

The rapport brands are trying to build with consumers is complicated enough, but it is nothing compared to the complex relationship the marketing and advertising industries traditionally have with the music business. Creative agencies and record labels have historically clashed over how music should be used in ads. Record company bosses argue that brands undervalue music, while the agencies accuse music executives of charging too much for tracks and for being too slow to clear the rights for a song they want to use. It is a dispute which can make record companies wary when negotiating deals for live events.

Discovering who actually owns the rights to a particular piece of music is rarely straightforward because the record business has traditionally been so reactive in its dealings with marketers. But as sales of physical music products such as CDs have declined, things have started to change – if slowly.

"Record labels, music agents, managers and the artists themselves have been forced, through the evolution of their own marketplace to become much more aware of the value of participating in commercial activity which will help them reach a wider audience," says Cameron Day, business development director at experiential agency RPM.

The right orchestration
Another specialist consultancy steering marketers through the mysterious and murky world of music licensing to support live events is Ricall. It helped one drinks brand select appropriate music for an integrated marketing campaign that included a series of nightclub promotions in Scotland. The song Fantastic Cat by Japanese artist Takako Minekawa was chosen because it was considered quirky, credible and ideal for different platforms, from live events and TV ads to ring tones.

"Brands must never forget music is a real touchpoint in people’s lives," says Ricall managing director Richard Corbett. "A good way to connect with an audience at an event is to use music that was popular when the target consumers were growing up."

Negotiations with the music industry will be smoother if the record company can see obvious benefits for itself and its artists in terms of extra sales if it signs a deal linked to a brand’s event.

In February experiential agency Iris organised the Gig In The Sky promotion as part of a pan-European campaign for Sony Ericsson’s Walkman phone range. It featured Jamiroquai, which is signed to Sony BMG and had a "Best Of" album in the shops at the time. The band performed on an aeroplane 35,000ft in the air in front of a select audience of 200 fans, press and retailers from 15 European territories. When the plane arrived at Athens airport the group played another gig in the terminal building.

"This event highlights how dealings with the music industry can and should work," says iris director Henry Scotland. "There were benefits for everyone involved. The consumer wants entertainment and engagement, the brand needs to be different and align itself with a certain image, the artist wants to be perceived as innovative and the record label recognises the PR and sales opportunities."

Marketing consultancy Billington Cartmell is so convinced that music will play a greater role at live events that it formed an internal music and entertainment strand in February. It is headed by Denzil Thomas who previously ran consultancy Eat Your Greens, producing commercial music marketing programmes for clients such as Toyota, Coca-Cola and Lloyds TSB. His new venture will involve Billington Cartmell’s experiential agency Closer and its broadcast unit Brave.

Thomas is convinced digital media has made the music market more fragmented and that this provides brands with a greater opportunity to ensure the music they choose does fit their own values and appeals to their audience. "It is helping clients find a musical theme and making it easier to persuade them to look beyond obvious mainstream artists," he says. "I spend a lot of time educating brands about up-and-coming acts that are very popular with certain groups."

Cultural awareness
When brands want to use music in an international campaign that will include live events in various territories they must be aware of musical trends and tastes in different countries. Unfortunately, this can create another layer of complicated administration as the rights to many artists and their songs are often controlled by several parties around the world.

Marketing communications agency KLP’s head of entertainment, Natasha Kizzie, says about 65% of the live events she works on involving music take place abroad. She says marketers need to work with agencies whose staff understand what will and what will not work in local markets. "Brands can fall into the trap of associating themselves with a certain musical genre but this will not work in every country," she says. "Clients know their target demographic, so have to find an artist in each country that appeals to the same audience."

She agrees that marketers must create as much noise as possible around an artist’s involvement in a live event. This means working closely with the PR team and planning guerrilla marketing and online and in-store activity prior to an event.

Hennessy Cognac brought in KLP because it wanted to be perceived as an aspirational brand in the US. It was struggling to change its image as a street brand which KLP pointed out was being reinforced by its association with reggae music.

"We demonstrated it needed an international musical flavour and had to work with artists from various genres to appeal to the people it wanted to reach. It then had to link everything to one big live event," says Kizzie.

KLP devised a global music experience called Hennessy Artistry aimed at younger consumers in their mid-20s. Hennessy prides itself on being a blend of eaux-de-vies so KLP mixed four acts from four musical genres – hip-hop, pop-rock, glam-electronica and international beats featuring the artists Kanye West, The Strokes, Goldfrapp and Carl Cox.

There was PR, above-the-line advertising and online activity promoting four acts, for one night only, at New York’s Capitale venue. Leading up to the event there was a 15-date US tour featuring other artists and DJs.

Millward Brown’s research reveals that of all the senses marketers can reach, sound creates the most excitement among consumers. Music is a constant reminder of the good and bad times in our lives and the brands that use it well at live events will be remembered too.

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