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.
It is officially Autumn and what better way to fill the long evenings than with Billboard’s 2014 Music and Brand Roundtable. This year we have some serious people from the various corners of music and brand, and Lars Ulrich. Its not exactly chock full of drama or laughs, at times its feels like a negotiation, but as a resource on music and brand its worth your time.
I’m not sure choosing one of the biggest music stars in the world provides much insight. Mr Ulrich points out that brands come to him so his view of the music and brand relationship is fairly traditional. I think it would have been more interesting had they got a new artist with more of a need for brand relationships as they look to build a career. But then I guess if someone offers you Lars Ulrich you don’t turn them down.
The person you have to listen to is Steve Pamon of Chase. He explains so many of the issues that brands have when trying to work with music artists. His basic issue is the music business’ failure to act like a business. He does throw music a bone by pointing out its emotional impact on an audience and how valuable this is to a brand.
Listen also to Jennifer Frommer from SFX as she quickly points out the value of content. Rather than simply talking about putting a brand next to an artist she explains the importance of providing platforms and a variety of content that an audience will want.
There is no point in me describing the whole chat, I simply recommend that rather than watching X Factor you check out the films. The mix of people is good and the conversation, while not ground-breaking, is certainly worth some of your time.
My favourite quote is:
Lars Ulrich – “I think U2 are the coolest”.
Always leave them laughing.
Music and brand relationships don’t always have to involve Gaga or P Diddy/Puffy/Sean John/Diddy/Puffy/Brian. Just Eat, the online takeaway service, have saved their money and instead put their faith in the creative skills of their customers by telling them to “Sing For Your Supper”. For the record this has nothing to do with the Mamas and Papas cover of the Hart and Rodgers song “Sing For Your Supper“, despite it coming from their “Deliver” album
Just Eat customers have been asked to create songs inspired by takeaways and send them to the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages using the hashtag #SingForYourSupper. Each month prizes will be handed out to the best, the worst, the most entertaining and the most original.
The campaign will almost certainly uncover some genius, some tragedy and some annoyingly catchy stuff that the brand hopes will go viral. In an age of justification you have to love Just Eat’s marketing director Lucy Milne for her explanation for bringing together takeaways and music:
“There’s also an intrinsic link between music talent shows and takeaway, both often providing the centrepiece to a perfect night in.”
I think you’ll find the intrinsic link is between people who can’t be bothered to get off their sofas and people who can’t be bothered to cook. Whatever the reason for the doing the campaign it should be fun to follow, after all it has been too long since we have had the pleasure/pain of the Fast Food Rockers. To kick it off enjoy this from Duke Beatbox.
The campaign has been put together by the creative agency Ralph.
I’ve never been to SXSW and I’m not going this year. As I have never been to SXSW, I cannot make a judgement on whether it is getting better or worse each year but what I do know is that it is getting bigger. I’m sitting here in London reading and watching what I can of this year’s creative celebrations and trying to work out whether SXSW is starting to outgrow itself. The thing that really got me wondering about this was the confirmation of Lady Gaga as a Keynote speaker. What I’m debating is whether Gaga’s attendance is more a statement about her current situation in music or that SXSW is becoming a festival style music event.
Gaga has had an interesting few months. There have been stories about ARTPOP not doing as well as the label would have liked, Live Nation have had to come out and deny stories that the tour is struggling to make money and of course there was that ridiculous flying dress. Gaga’s approach has always been to grab attention through spectacle rather than her music, which is a bit confusing really when you consider that the music is generally very good. So the announcement that she will be interviewed and then perform at SXSW suggests she wants to engage with a “cool” crowd who should be interested in her creativity and bolster her credibility. Of course if that doesn’t work she can always hit the Doritos stage in an outfit crafted from Hot and Spicy nachos and be splashed across every entertainment blog in the known universe. I guess either way she will do pretty well out of SXSW.
With Gaga having nothing to lose will SXSW suffer from this leap into the mainstream? Gaga is the biggest name to appear on the Doritos stage and a significant leap from the previous headliners which have included Ice Cube and LL Cool J. Which leads you to wonder if a Gaga gig fits at SXSW or does it shift the event too far into being entertainment rather than education and exploration? Is somebody going to refer to SXSW as an edu-tainment event (may the inventor of this term be locked in a room with the Oxford English Dictionary for the rest of their days) in the near future?
Gaga is a big investment by a global consumer brand and an even bigger statement by SXSW. This is a significant leap into mass appeal for an event that has always seen itself as a little maverick and edgy. The true impact of all of this will be felt at SXSW 2015 rather than now. Who will headline in 2015? Who will be the sponsors? Most importantly, will the creative communities in film, music and interactive come or will they consider the event to have lost its identity?
I really hope this is not the start of the end for the SXSW I have heard everyone talk so passionately about for years. I still hope to one day make it over to Austin and I really hope it is not the year that 1 Direction headline sponsored by McDonalds. I guess it would probably be a good idea for some of the SXSW brand team to attend the talks about music and brand partnerships so they can avoid the pitfalls of always focusing on the biggest cheque rather than long term brand guardianship.
You’ve just flown half way across the world for a meeting, jet lag is about to kick in and you can’t decide whether you should eat now or try to get on the local timetable. You know what you need? A gig.
I don’t think that was exactly how the brainstorming session went but that is certainly what is on offer now at Renaissance Hotels following their announcement of a number of music partnerships. First off we have live entertainment mega brand, AEG, who by the sounds of it will be the driving force in this new music adventure. Then sneaking in through the VIP entrance are Universal Music Group and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to create a team of really big entertainment brands. The purpose of all this is to make Renaissance Hotels the only hotel group offering a “variety of unique activities and platforms”, music ones that is. The plan seems to be a combination of exclusive events for clientele, priority access to AEG events and a bunch of content for the in-room tv channels and various websites. One novel idea is that they are also offering “Meeting Discoveries” which will allow you to follow that six hour management meeting with access to special events.
The reason this partnership has lead me to write is that it is quite a bold move by a hotel chain seeking to gain more corporate business. Traditionally hotels look to sonic branding to create relaxing, comfortable experiences out of alien environments. The traditional use of music is to enhance the physical space with tranquility, cue pan pipes in the toilets and a pianist in reception. So for a brand like Renaissance Hotels to explore the idea of music experimentation is very much away from the norm and it will be interesting to see if the weary business travellers embrace this opportunity to choose a hotel offering live music over one with softer pillows.
The interesting thing here is not the output of the partnership but who is leading it, if Renaissance Hotels make this work it will be fun to see how the competition reacts. Maybe you’ll see Holiday Inns offering a spare TV in every room so you can live like a rockstar and throw one out of the window.
If you want to know more about this partnership you can read all the details here on twst.com (The Wall Street Transcript).
UPDATE: I couldn’t sleep last night as I kept having flashbacks of Universal Music Group doing something hotel-ly recently. Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but this morning I flicked back through my old posts and guess what they have, but with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. While not exactly the same kind of partnership there are definitely a few similarities such as live events in hotels. The key difference is the audience, Fairmont seem to be targeting people on holiday while Renaissance are after the business market.
In the same way there are supposedly only meant to be 7 story plots there are probably only a limited number of basic music and brand partnerships, the key to making them feel unique is in the implementation and that comes down to how well the brand and the music work together. After all you will never stop music from jumping into bed with somebody else.
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.
With CES in full swing I should be focusing on 50cent’s expanding range of premium headphones or maybe the new partnership between Harman’s Infinity speaker brand and Linkin Park but not this day. No today I will ignore the world’s biggest tech conference and toast the marriage of Diddy and Diageo, apparently they have just been good friends up until now.
There was a time when Sean “Diddy” Combs was best known for being good at music and rebranding himself every time he changed his pants. Nowadays he is best known for being a business tycoon following successes in clothing, restaurants and Cîroc vodka. Diddy or was it Puffy Daddy or maybe Puff, lets just call him Mr Combs for today, has joined up with his mates at Diageo to acquire the ultra-premium tequila brand DeLeón. Unlike Cîroc which is owned by Diageo, the newly acquired DeLeón will be a 50/50 joint venture with Combs Wine & Spirits (soon to be renamed Diddy Premium Booze).
If you want to read more about the emerging booze baron have a look in today’s Guardian . Mr Combs has been pretty effective at using his music reputation to create some solid businesses and brands so I would imagine all those other celebs working with tequila brands will now be looking for alternative premium spirits to attach themselves to. Pastis anyone?