When it comes to audio branding there isn’t much that Coke has not excelled at. From its multicultural anthem about buying the world some fizzy pop through its omnipotent open happiness, the vegetable flavoured soda pop has long understood the power of music to sell. So with a new marketing strategy doing the rounds its no surprise that they are dancing to a new tune.
I have no idea what the brief was for this but what they have created feels a little miserable for a brand known for preaching happiness. Rather than worry about whether images of protest communicate joy and togetherness, lets focus on the music. Well my response there is pretty much the same. I’m sure someone will do some nice piece of research that says the new aggressively happy Coke has changed perceptions, reached out to the millennials and made Coke the drink of the bearded wonders but it just doesn’t feel right. Coke is generic and that is not a bad thing, so this attempt to create communications that exclude rather than embrace audiences feels a bit wrong.
I guess you have to admire the bravery but being brave doesn’t make you right.
While we wait for the outcome here’s something that is happy.
The regular readers amongst you will be aware that when it comes to covers in ads I am more than a little sceptical. There are two main reasons for this:
1. Covers of tracks that were the soundtrack to my youth, the originals are always better;
2. John Lewis Christmas Ads.
I was a little concerned when I heard that for the new Lynx ad Big Sync Music had chosen a cover of Guns & Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle”. John Lewis’ cover of The Smiths was bad enough but could I cope with this truly massive track from Axel and Co. being reinvented? And if the idea of the cover wasn’t challenging enough then factor in that it has been done by a fella called Novo Amor who is known for his “captivating ethereal, folk songs” rather than aggressive metal moments.
You know what, I think this is a brave and impressive cover. I don’t know which came first, the visuals or the music, but they work beautifully together. The surreal, filmic nature of the ad makes the reimagining of “Welcome to the Jungle” fit comfortably. The track is challenging which fits well with Lynx’s move away from its Lads Mag past.
Am I going to re-evaluate my issues with covers? Nah, after all John Lewis is currently planning their Christmas 2015 ad which I am sure will feature some version of a pop track from the 90s. But what I will do is acknowledge that covers can be really good if someone sticks their neck out and tries something a little more challenging.
Now, enough about the cover, its time for a classic.
I’ve got through January and I feel I avoided BIG DATA as much as possible. Now that February has arrived I think I can be allowed one mention of the BIG D. I am no fan of the marketing concept that is BIG D, for me just having loads of data is fairly useless. Data is an ingredient we need to create insight, what I would like to see more of is BIG INSIGHT. So I was very interested to see that GROUP M Entertainment, Sports and Promotion employed GROUP M NEXT to provide GROUP M with some proprietary insight on how people really quite like music, GROUP M, sorry I think I’ve developed a tick.
So the insight has been delivered in the form of a report called The New Music Model for Brands: How Live Events and Digital are Changing the Sound of Things. I’ll summarise it, people like music, they listen to it loads and they like brands when they help them listen to it. OK it’s a lot deeper than than but I think it is better if you read the report itself, its good stuff. If you don’t have the time just yell out “People like music, GROUP M says so” when you are stuck for something to say in a meeting.
The dream of any music agency is to become the single supplier of a massive conglomerate and today Big Sync Music announced they are in dreamland by becoming the exclusive supplier of music services to Unilever.
It is a big step for Unilever, a massive opportunity for Big Sync and a huge challenge for both as of them as they try to herd all their marketing agencies through a single music channel. But as long as the agencies play nicely then Unilever will now be in a position to implement effective sonic branding strategy across countries, territories and the world. It is a bold move for Unilever to commit to a single supplier but a sensible one as they now have the capability to create consistent and efficient identities for their brands and develop music strategies that are global marketing campaigns in their own right.
Exciting and exhausting times ahead for Big Sync Music. Now please wash your hands.
Here is the full story in Music Week.
This one has been bubbling under for a while, since Vincent Bolloré, head of the Bolloré family, the largest Havas shareholder, became chairman of Vivendi, owners of Universal, it seemed like a logical move for both businesses. Whether this was all worked out over dinner at Chez Bolloré, Havas’ chairman happens to be Yannick Bolloré, son of Vincent, or through some in-depth analysis of the music and brand market and a realisation that it lacked a super power, I will never know but it is probably the biggest commitment to cooperation we have seen so far.
So what is it all about? On the face of it and if you read the various press releases the whole thing is about data, lots and lots of data, I’m not going to say BIG DATA (doh!) as that is so 2014. They have even managed to sneak the word data into the collaboration’s name – THE GLOBAL MUSIC DATA ALLIANCE – which I think should be shortened to GLOMUDA for no real reason. There is loads of talk about combining all the numbers that both sides gather on their audiences and using them to work out better ways of combining music and brand to everyone’s benefit. At this stage then the focus is very much on building some really enormous databases and working out some spectacularly complicated algorithms to make sense of them. This kind of analysis will help prove the case for music and brand relationships of all shapes and sizes and I guess it will not be too long before GLOMUDA (trademark pending) becomes self-aware and Ed Sheeran is being hunted down by a cyborg from the future.
For music and brand geeks the GLOMUDA is an exciting project between two real powerhouses in their industries with the very highest level of executive backing. Where I think the real potential for this relationship will be is in a year or two’s time, once they have enough data to create accurate insight into music and consumer trends. If they take this insight and use it as a starting point for some outstanding and innovative creative work then Universal and Havas could be building a market leading platform. But it is just the starting point, both sides will also need to invest heavily in creative talent as translating insight into inspiration is the true key to success.
In the past partnerships like this have not worked as one side saw it as a bit of fun while the other considered it a way to get someone else to pay the bill. This partnership, however, could change that simply because of its scale, the board level support should ensure that the Havas agencies function collectively rather than competitively when it comes to music projects while Universal has a pretty progressive view of brand relationships. Plus if all else fails Mrs Bolloré can always step in and sort things out.
So to start 2015 we have a biggie and one that we will need to observe throughout the year, if anything so we can see what impact GLOMUDA has on Music Dealers (Havas) and Globe (Universal).
Here are links to the Havas press release and coverage in AdAge:
UPDATE: Well it didn’t take long for someone to ruin my BIG DATA avoiding 2015. This article on mediajobs.com gives a more cash focused reason for why HAVAS + UNIVERSAL = DATA, DATA = CASH.
How to market headphones
OPTION 1 – BIG BUDGET
1. Get a bit name celeb, ideally a sports star, to wear your headphones wherever they go.
2. Put a big name sports star in a really long music based ad, aka a music video.
3. Make the headphones really expensive.
4. Give your brand a sub-title featuring a hip hop star name.
OPTION 2 – LITTLE BUDGET
1. Try something creative.
Looks like Sennheiser have gone for option 2. Their products are not known for their bling value and so they have relied on things like sound quality and build to get them fans. In their latest marketing campaign they are trying to add some sex appeal, I’m not sure if you are into little moustachioed man dressed as headphones while he caressing a big ear. It is nice to see Sennheiser trying something different in the massively male focused world of big headphones for its launch of the Urbanite product line, lets hope it works as I’ve always thought they were way better than many big name medically backed products.
To build on the fun fetishistic ads they have also added a social campaign called “The Golden Ears“. Basically you use your Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr account to access the location of one of the Golden Ears in London or New York. Run like the wind to the location, find the Golden Ear and boom you get a lovely pair of £200 cans. If you get there a little late then you can still win by posting an Ear Selfie on Instagram. Its pretty simple, its not the most original idea but its simple and fun so it deserves some love and maybe a some “forbodan pleasure”.
Fun and nicely integrated, the campaign chips away at Sennheiser’s grey plastic image. It is always nice to see something different in the headphone space, Beats has become such a juggernaut that it is difficult for other brands to push to the front of the queue and it is also good to see something that doesn’t focused on the intensity and pain of being massively rich and famous.
If you have nothing to do this week and fancy winning some nice cans click here, take a photo of your ears, you know they are sexy (said in pseudo sexual German accent).
WARNING: ADVERTORIAL (My version of it)
It is rare that I get a chance to showcase creative work that I’ve delivered for a client. As I’m not a musician or sound designer all my work is done in the shadows so I wanted to share this recent work for the new Hudl 2 tablet from Tesco. The device has been getting a lot of rave reviews since it launched a couple of days ago and a lot of them have focused on the physical design, which is impressive. What people have not yet talked about is the audio experience of the new Hudl.
The Tesco Connected Devices team were very thorough in their approach to creating the Hudl experience and left no stone unturned in making sure everything communicated the values of brand and the purpose of the device. A key part to this communication are the sounds that the device makes as it does its thing. Not happy with the stock Android sounds they instead chose to create a unique sound world for the Hudl so that what the user hears matches what they see.
I was lucky enough to work closely with the device development team to create the sound of the Hudl. They embraced the whole process of translating the brand and user experience into sound and with the composition and sound design talents of Paul Sumpter of The Futz Butler we made the Hudl brand sing (and beep). The best thing about it was that rather than explore the safe and the average we were given the freedom to really experiment, you can read more about Paul’s work here and watch a video of him smashing things up in a calm and non-aggressive way.
A lot of the sonic branding created today is bland and generic because while its starting point is one of exploration the end point is usually one of mediation. For the Hudl sonic branding the aim was to simply communicate the brand and with that in mind we were allowed to focus on creativity and values rather than compromise.
I’m really proud of the work and I want to give huge thanks to the Joe and Danny from the Hudl team for their commitment to eating stinky lunches in the studio and allowing us to experiment, Martin Lawless for his amazing insight into the Hudl brand and reflections on the Hacienda days and Paul Sumpter for his superb creative work and comfy packing crates.
The best way of checking out our work is of course to go and buy one and if you want to learn more about how we created the sound of the Hudl or want to know more about sonic branding feel free to contact me.