The potential synergies between consumer brands and the music industry have never been more important to explore. With total ad spending down 15 percent in the first half of 2009 compared with the first half of 2008 and ad spending on music down 16 percent in the same period, it makes sense that an increasing number of marketers and musicians are interested in essentially doubling their promotional weight, both on- and offline. (Related: “2009: Trends in Music Branding.”)
Here, three campaigns whose clever creative strategies have boosted the profiles of both the brands and artists:
For Coca-Cola, happiness is a five-note branding mnemonic turned into a song heard around the world. The effort, a collaboration with Atlantic Records for the cola’s “Open happiness” campaign from Wieden + Kennedy, stars a genre-bending mix of artists: Cee-Lo Green; Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump; Panic at the Disco’s Brendon Urie; Gym Class Heroes’ Travis McCoy; and Janelle Monae.
Producer Butch Walker and Green co-wrote the nearly four-minute track released in March (the mnemonic was written by Human) via MySpace-where it’s been streamed more than 700,000 times — and iTunes, where it reached No. 27 on the Pop Chart in the U.S. The song was used in ads that aired in 31 markets, with spots including eight customized versions with local artists (such as Leehom Wang in China, whose version reached No. 1 on the Top 100 chart of search engine Baidu.com). In July, a music video — as stylistically fanciful as the animated “Happiness Factory” spots — premiered on MTV. And the song is keeping its buzz on: so far, it has inspired more than 100 user-generated versions on YouTube, and this winter it will be heard at various venues at the Olympics in Vancouver.
“One thing [that ‘Open happiness’] has proven to us is that music has the power to connect,” said Coke’s global music marketing manager Umut Ozaydinli at an Adweek and Billboard Music and Advertising Conference earlier this year.
According to Atlantic’s svp of brand marketing, Camille Hackney, the collaboration — orchestrated by companies including Brand Asset Group and Crush Music Media Management — is helping to keep the artists top of mind as they each prep upcoming releases.
In an eyebrow-raising switch of brand partners, U2 is working with BlackBerry to help promote its latest album, No Line on the Horizon. (For its last album and tour, 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, U2 partnered with Apple and released a special edition iPod and an exclusive historical digital catalog, as well as starred in an iPod/iTunes commercial touting its “Vertigo” single.)
BlackBerry’s campaign, which touts the message “BlackBerry loves U2,” includes exclusive sponsorship of the band’s 360˚ tour and a 60-second spot from Arc that launched in July. Timed to the album’s release and the tour’s kickoff, the commercial featured a live performance of the band in a shower of glittery sparks playing “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” In the fall, the deal’s most innovative element was introduced: a BlackBerry app that includes songs, videos, pictures, a link to the U2 mobile shop and a news feed that sends users updates every time a band member posts to the U2 blog. A yet-to-be activated social-networking feature will allow concertgoers to mark their seats on a map of each venue, and locate and communicate with other fans at the shows.
“We’re reinventing the album experience for the digital age,” said Jeff McDowell, vp, global alliances at BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, at the time of the app’s release.
Atlantic Records’ artist Estelle had a very good night at the Grammy’s back in February. Not only did a Crystal Light spot launch during the show with an upbeat song she wrote and sang — one of two spots featuring the song in a campaign from Ogilvy & Mather — but she later won her first Grammy for the song “American Boy.” (You can bet Kraft Foods, owner of Crystal Light, was pleased, too.) In the spot, Estelle belted out the upbeat “Star,” which she wrote for the powdered drink mix. The commercial included a URL where visitors could download free copies of a full-length version of the song.
Within the first week on the Web site, said Doug Scott, president of Ogilvy Entertainment, it was downloaded 20,000 times. A month later, it was put up for sale on sites including iTunes and Amazon. Ten months after its debut, Atlantic said the brand-inspired song is being considered for inclusion on Estelle’s next release, which is expected in mid-2010. The campaign, said Atlantic’s Hackney, “was another platform to help build [Estelle] and her brand. We collaborated and got a fantastic song out of it. … And you never know, we may make it into a single. We’re still having those discussions.