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.
McDonalds are doing some more music stuff. That’s about all we know at this time apart from it has something to do with their big digital push. In probably one of the most lacking bits of reporting for some time various marketing blogs are reporting that McDonalds are doing some music stuff and far be it from me to not join in the party. There is not really very much detail on what is going to be on offer.
In the not so distant past McDonalds did some work with Music Dealers around the Winter Olympics and then there was that time on band camp… I’m really sorry but all I can tell you at this time is that there is a big digital push that will bring together loyalty, mobiles and music. McDonalds certainly knows the power of music so I would expect something significant to be in the offing.
The day after Lilly Allen returned to the number one spot in the UK singles chart I re-read a recent article in Music Week, “The secret to music and brand success at Christmas” which explored the importance of music in brand campaigns at Christmas. The reason I thought I’d have another read was because there was a quote from Eric Sheinkop, CEO of Music Dealers and co-author of Hit Brands, suggesting that John Lewis has in some way become “a trusted filter for great music and consumers look to them to discover the latest upcoming releases”. As a John Lewis customer my immediate reaction was “Are you mad?”, I would never want to think my music consumption was influenced by this wonderfully reliable brand that my mother loves so much. So when I saw that Lilly Allen had returned to number 1 with her Keane cover I started to question whether the new home of music really is the Electronics department in the Oxford Street John Lewis.
Let’s look at the facts. John Lewis’ annual Christmas campaign has become a national music event that is on a par with the announcement of the X Factor winner in terms of selling records and social impact. This from a brand that not long ago would never have considered doing television advertising. So far, each year the campaign has been a perfect blend of creativity with engaging visual narrative and music that is both nostalgic and current. It is not a controversial statement to say that the ads have been on brand for both John Lewis and Christmas. I bitch and moan about the John Lewis ads for their downright niceness but I’m guessing that the brief each year has a massive lump of implied “BE NICE”. But we’re not here to talk about being nice, we’re hear to talk music and John Lewis gets it bloody right, for the masses, every year. I would have burnt my Hunter wellies, if I had any, in protest at the Smiths’ cover they did a couple of years ago but even I had to acknowledge it worked and it worked really well.
So does this make John Lewis my “trusted filter for great music”? Should I be searching for the John Lewis playlist on Spotify or looking forward to the new Lilly Allen Tour sponsored by John Lewis? NOPE. You see John Lewis’ Christmas campaign is a fantastic example of how powerful music is as both a brand and marketing communicator. Once a year we all wonder what track they are going to cover in a slow and wistful way, each year we either hate it or love it but we all get it.
What the “never knowingly undersold” brand gets really right is that it never knowingly oversells its relationship with music. John Lewis doesn’t come to us making out that it is down with the cool kids. It doesn’t put on a festival in Hyde Park with vol-au-vents and comfy sofas for all. It knows its place and because of this its relationship with music is even more powerful. It produces a mega music based campaign every Christmas, revels in the glow of its achievement and then goes back to selling tellies, cutlery and comfy kids shoes. So yes it is a “trusted filter” but only when it needs to be and only when it is relevant to its brand and its consumer.
Hopefully this is the last time I will talk about the John Lewis Christmas campaign for 2013 but I bet it isn’t. In the meantime feel free to go and buy the book Hit Brands written by Daniel Jackson (CORD), Eric Sheinkop (Music Dealers) and Richard Jankovich (loads of companies) and tell me what it is like as I’ve still not got my copy.
For all those interested in how music and brands can play nicely, here is a new book you should have a look at: Hit Brands: How Music Builds Value for the World’s Smartest Brands.
It brings together a trio of leading thinkers and business minds from the world of music and brands. You’ve got Daniel M. Jackson, founder and MD of CORD Worldwide, Richard Jankovich, who has loads of impressive job titles and has worked with some of the biggest brands, and Eric Sheinkop, CEO of MusicDealers.
Forget that Union J 2014 Annual you were thinking of buying and try this for some bedtime reading.
So it looks like the agencies are securing their positions in music. Music Dealers who have worked with a number of agencies over the years have tied a knot with Havas Sports and Entertainment giving their clients better opportunities in music. Click on this link to see the news as reported by MusicWeek