Syco on how brands can help it create the next One Direction

Having recently been appointed marketing director at Simon Cowell’s Syco Music, Michelle Marks says the label is committed to finding the next One Direction and says there’s now a “greater desire” among brands and musicians to be aligned “than ever before.”

With 20 years of experience, Marks is a seasoned marketer having most recently left entertainment and content marketing agency Red Bee where she worked closely on campaigns for BBC and Disney.

She also helped craft the iconic Levi’s 501 jeans campaigns, which featured the music-obsessed “Flat Eric” character, while working for BBH in the 1990s.

Admitting that now is a “transitional time” for the music industry, citing the move to streaming and social media as an example, Marks says the label must start to “think differently” about the way it approaches marketing.

She told Marketing Week: “While the brand has been very successful already, I think it’s time to think differently about marketing our artists. We want to focus on finding brand partners that are inherently entertaining and on mobile, as that’s where the bulk of our audience sits.

“Syco would also benefit from utilising outside expertise and advertisers as we want to do more around content strategy and creation.”

Following the global success of the British boyband One Direction, who have become a brand in their own right through consistent product and brand deals, Marks says the label is focused on looking at all of its artists as “brands that need to be built up”.

Michelle Marks, marketing director at Syco Music.

The Syco Music label roster includes the likes of One Direction, Little Mix and Labrinyth – although the latter is a rarity, with the label used primarily as a platform for artists discovered on Cowell’s reality shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.

Marks believes the rise of social media and brand advocacy presents plenty of opportunities for musicians.

“We are ambitious for more success on the scale of One Direction, that’s a priority. I think the desire for brands and artists to work together is stronger than it’s ever been,” she added.

“As advertisers look to find ways to connect with audiences beyond paid media, artists can play a big role by giving them access to the right audience and generating real value. My job is to make each of our artists into an international brand.”

Over recent months, brands have upped their level of music endorsements. Earlier this month beer brand Corona announced plans to expand its Sunset music festival, while Starbucks recently announced a loyalty partnership with Spotify.


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