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).
Whether you love or loathe Apple one thing you have to say about them is they are consistent. Their products have an incredibly strong design language and so does their brand communications, visually at least. When Apple released their new brand video focused on their green credentials the most interesting thing for me was not the content but the person delivering it. Welcome stage left, Tim Cook the lord and master of Cupertino. The video itself could easily be replaced by this piece of creative genius from Dissolve but Mr Cook’s first foray into the world of voiceovers made me wonder: What does Apple sound like?
Apple’s visual style for brand and product films has always been talking heads intercut with people using the product or products floating around in white space. This has meant that we are visually introduced to the voices and told who they are via captions featuring names and job titles. There have been a few celebrity voiceovers for TV ads but on the whole they like us to focus on the product, it is a very clean and efficient approach, more Apple branding.
This film is not about a new product, it is all about brand and most importantly the values that form it. So it makes sense to wheel out the big gun for this one and have the very man who is ultimately responsible for everything that Apple stands for and creates to be delivering the message.
From a brand perspective using Cook as a voiceover is the right thing to have done. It is no Oscar winning performance but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that rather than paying some professional voiceover to add enforced brand values to the message, Apple are using their chief brand guardian to deliver a significant message on Earth Day. Using internally sourced voiceovers isn’t always the right route, it depends on the message. The key to success is finding the message where personal delivery is the most powerful option and adds value to every word.
It could be argued that nobody recognises Cook’s voice so where is the value in using it. By the looks of all the coverage today around the launch of this film the PR department are working overtime to let us know that it is Apple’s leader that is preaching the green message and this should go someway to building the narrative.
Most significant of all, Cook has achieved something that Jobs never did. Jobs only ever did one voiceover but then refused to allow it to be used, somehow it made its way onto YouTube. He’s actually pretty good and maybe he should have considered a career doing credit card and short-term loan ads rather than making us all slaves to the iPhone.
Earlier this year we saw the start of Schwartz’s “Sound of Taste” campaign from Grey London, you can check out the post on it here. After making a studio look like the Holi celebrations have wandered through it, Grey London has come up with a neat and tidy expression of the “Sound of Taste” in partnership with cool tech/print company Novalia. Audio enhanced posters are nothing new but Novalia and it’s founder Kate Stone really take the idea beyond what other people do, check out her TED talk to see what I mean.
I’m not expecting the Schwartz posters to be all over town, it is a bit of a gimmick but you know what it shows that Grey have really thought about how they are going to implement this idea of the “Sound of Taste” and that should be applauded. Experimenting with sound is fun and the more brands need to do it rather than relying on big music and brand partnerships or obvious syncs. Technology is making sound far more accessible for brands and consumers so I suggest we should follow the lead of Grey, Novalia and Schwartz and play around with it.
Samsung have launched a new creativity and brand promotion called Launching People. The idea is to give undiscovered talent, in one of the following disciplines; Film, Photography, Food and Music; an opportunity to work one to one with celebrity mentors and get their mitts on some new Samsung product. The chosen few will appear in a TV programme. Let me know if this is all sounding a bit familiar?
To add something different to the usual talent search competition Samsung has drafted in what can be described as a very credible bunch of mentors. Rankin is covering photography, Gizzi Erskine is doing food, Idris Elba is on film and finally the Paloma Faith is in for music. Then add global megabrand Samsung with their deep pockets and cutting edge technology, we should now have all the ingredients we need for something cool.
No nodding off now, things are about to get exciting, Honest. The public will get to vote on who will be the chosen few to get the help of the mentors and some Samsung kit. The winners in each category will then get to work with their mentors over 2-3 weeks to figure out how they can fulfil their potential. This bit will all take place while they live in a house kitted out with the latest Samsung products, expect to see those product placement warnings before each episode and the house available for purchase soon after the show airs.
Look, don’t get me wrong I love the idea of giving talent a leg up but there has to be a more original way than this. The mentors they have put together are top drawer, who wouldn’t want to be shown how take great photos by Rankin or taught how to sing by Paloma Faith. But with great talent comes great responsibility and Samsung’s agency has just gone to the shelf of “same old ideas”. To add to the averageness of the activation they have hosted the whole thing on Facebook.
I know I’ll turn up to some event in a year’s time and see a case study about how successful the campaign was, how they had thousands of likes on Facebook and loads of Twitter activity but you know what that doesn’t make a campaign great or even effective. If they find great talent then they’ll have achieved one goal, but the true purpose is to promote the Samsung brand and make it stand out as a brand that empowers creativity through great product. I’m no Apple fanboy but I have to admit when I compare this campaign to Apple’s film to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mac I very clearly know who is helping creativity thrive.
Honda are well known for their love of quirky car advertising so it is no surprise that they’ve done something interesting again. They’ve not stuck an ageing Hollywood action hero on the top of a Civic, instead they’re singing about how great everything is.
The ad comes from the minds of RPA and features a specially composed track put together by Hum and the band Vintage Trouble. It is a music driven, pardon the pun, film and once again Honda’s agency does as much as they possibly can to focus on the brand and not the product. I’d like to state now that I own a Honda Civic so I fully appreciate how dull the majority of their cars are.
Honda’s campaign is titled “One More Thing to Love about Today” and also features a partnership with Spotify that will allow participants “to create a unique, social media and music mash-up by connecting their activity on various social platforms and set the scrapbook to music they were listening to at different times in their lives”. That sounds to me like its adding your Spotify history to your Facebook posts but I’ll have to wait to see if I am right about that. They are also teaming up with SoundHound to provide full track previews somewhere. Oh wait they are also going to offer 8-track stereos in all their new models and reinvent Opera. Alright I made up those last two bits.
Honda has a nice piece of creative here but maybe the “go-faster stripes” they’ve added with the digital music platforms are not really adding much. We’ll have to wait and see but in the meantime #LoveToday.
When people think Music and Mobile it is likely that they will think Apple and iTunes or maybe Nokia and their instantly recognisable ringtone. But when it comes to understanding the importance of sonic branding in the electronics world few can hold up a candle app to Samsung. For years now Samsung’s Sound Lab have been developing the sounds and music that are an integral part of both their brand and products.
You know what, they just get it.
Engadget visited Samsung’s Sound Lab and wrote all about it including what they get up to with glasses of orange juice, keyboards and a slightly unnatural obsession with getting everything perfect. It is well worth a read and check out the slide that explains how visuals dominate brand experience but if you want people to remember you then use sound.
One thing I would like to point out to Mat Smith at Engadget is that it is not the practice of sonic branding which is “insipid”, it is crap creative output that is.
Its been another busy week in the music streaming world. Musicians have once again been moaning about how they earn nothing from streaming and Spotify has responded with the launch of Spotify Artists, a new service that allows musicians to see how little they are earning on a nice graph with full analytics of the audience that is not making them any money.
The latest news is that we all need to make a little bit more space on our iPhone screens for another streaming service. We’ve known it was coming for a while but Ian Rogers, CEO, has announced that the new Beats music streaming service, Beats Music (it does what it says on the tin) will be arriving in the US very soon, probably January.
The only reason it’s worth talking about another streaming service is that this one will get to enjoy the full Beats marketing experience. Dr Dre’s massively successful brand has been the poster child for celebrity brand partnerships for a few years now. Their use of sports and music stars has made Beats big cans a must for anyone who wants to tell the world they are listening to something better and has made headphone deals the top of most artists’ riders.
The other thing worth noting about the launch is that Beats Music will go to market with a mobile partner in place on day one. AT&T already has a relationship with Beats Electronics and it looks like they will be trying out a threesome by inviting Beats Music to join in. Details of the partnership have not been announced yet but it looks like the trend for music streaming services dating mobile networks is going to continue for a while.
I’ve got high hopes for the launch campaign but of course I won’t get to actually use the service for a while. In the meantime if you are in the US you can head to their websiteand register all your details.