The use of music as a promotional tool is growing in popularity. The medium is flexible and can be adapted to almost any brand, as Sophie McKenzie illustrates.

The use of music as a promotional tool is becoming increasingly widespread. Sponsored and customised CDs still have an important place, but many client companies are exploring other avenues as well, including link-ups with individual artists, bands and live music festivals. From a broader smorgasbord of options, each client is seeking the solution that best suits the needs of its brand. Product type and target market are important factors here, as the following two case studies demonstrate.

Soft & Gentle

Colgate-Palmolive this summer launched a major, music-based consumer promotion for its anti-perspirant deodorant brand Soft & Gentle. The promotion focused on the sponsorship of pop star Louise’s first solo UK tour in November, called the Louise Soft & Gentle No Sweat tour.

The deal co-ordinating brand and artist was put together by EMI Records. EMI commercial director Georgina Capp explains: “Soft & Gentle is a top brand with a fashion-conscious target market of 14- to 20-year-old girls. We needed to make the campaign high-profile, sexy and credible by linking the brand with a band or artist with which its market could identify. A few people were put forward but Louise was the most credible, sexy and smart artist and we knew we could work with her as a brand endorser.”

Louise’s endorsement is a million miles from the direct-sell of previous generations of sponsorship. Her support for the deodorant has been and will continue to be fairly subtle and subliminal. For example, in pre-tour promotions and at personal signings Louise may not directly urge girls to use the product, but she will be seen in front of the tour poster which, of course, features the Soft & Gentle name.

Capp adds: “This is more a link between two brands than an open endorsement which would be a bit passé.”

Advertisements and a series of interviews, competitions and advertorials in Sugar magazine will all make subtle reference to the sponsorship of Louise.

The promotional element of the link-up focuses on a specially mixed three-track CD which appeared on-pack in Superdrug in July and August, and in Sainsbury’s in September.


For all the differences between the brands Soft & Gentle and Carlsberg, their target markets do have one thing in common. Male beer drinkers are as interested in music as female deodorant users.

The type of music is, of course, quite distinct.

Carlsberg has for some years sponsored the rock festival at Reading and the Phoenix festival at Stratford-upon-Avon, which are both annual events. This summer the company went a step further and created a more mainstream one-off concert at Wembley Stadium. This one-day jamboree featured a selection of major musicians performing hits of the past four decades.

Carlsberg’s target market of 18- to 30-year-old males has four overriding preoccupations: music, football, beer and women.

Carlsberg marketing controller, lagers, Niall O’Keefe says: “This year was Carlsberg’s 150th anniversary and we wanted to mark the occasion with a massive football match or a big concert. It is hard to get footballers to do one-off games because the insurance for players is so high.

“With music it is easier to get big names together in unusual combinations. From this basic premise the whole thing grew to be more than a commemoration, into a big global event featuring artists like Bon Jovi, Seal, Rod Stewart and kd lang.”

All sponsorship and supporting promotions made reference to the main Carlsberg brand, rather than to any specific beers within the Carlsberg portfolio.

O’Keefe explains: “We find that all the beer drinkers in our target markets are represented at festivals and therefore no single brand is precisely appropriate for the whole event.

“A lot of drinkers choose from a repertoire of beers, perhaps Carlsberg lager for standard occasions, then a premium brand like Carlsberg Export when they want something stronger and then perhaps a premium-packaged lager like Carlsberg Ice Beer if they are out at a night club. To focus on just one of these might dilute our message.”

The link-up between beer and concert presented promotional opportunities far beyond the limits of the one-day festival.

“There were two real benefits for us from the whole occasion. Firstly, we raised awareness by being at the concert and on TV. Secondly, and most importantly we increased sales through promotions for the concert on-pack and in pubs,” O’Keefe adds.

Nearly 10,000 pubs and clubs participated in a huge promotion that gave drinkers the chance to win tickets for the concert. With every Carlsberg product purchased, a “Hits and Misses” scratchcard was given out. The card featured the name of a famous song and its recipient had to scratch off the silver panel to reveal the name of the band that performed the hit.

Winners could receive one of 2,000 pairs of tickets to the concert or one of thousands of smaller prizes, including instantly redeemed T-shirts, key ring bottle openers and Our Price vouchers. An on-pack promotion offered drinkers who collected 48 ring pulls one ticket for the concert and two tickets for 84 ring pulls.

The promotions were reinforced with TV and press advertising. The TV ad aimed to raise awareness of the concert in a humorous way. It featured a young woman searching for the perfect man who ignores several good looking hunks and settles on a partner whose key attribute is his height, as she knows she will get a better vantage point for viewing the concert when perched on his shoulders.

There could hardly be two brands less obviously alike than Carlsberg and Soft & Gentle, but then there is a world of difference between a Louise pop single and muddy rock weekend at the Reading Festival. What is clear is that music, in increasingly targeted and innovative ways, is becoming a universal and successful promotional tool.


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