I had two experiences today that had me sit down and write this article.
First, a conversation with my brother-in-law about how fans of regional bands are less willing to pay later in the year to go see that artist if they just saw them at a free festival during the summer (Hello, Chicago, Madison).
Then, I read about Coldwell Banker‘s most recent ad – the highest rated ad in the commercial real estate industry for the 10th year running. They simultaneously had the most effective marketing campaign AND reduced their production budget by 80%. The primary driver of both? Music.
It got me thinking about $2,500 #TaylorSwift concerts, and then quickly I was down the rabbit hole, relating it back to how brands sometimes spend $500,000, $1MM, $2MM on a piece of music because it’s a famous song.
ALL this led me to thinking about the perceived value of music based on CELEBRITY versus QUALITY OF CONTENT.
It’s very easy to want to jump straight to licensing a famous song for branded content. But is your consumer someone who’s always listening to the hottest hits? Does the brand ethos fit with mass appeal? There might be another better route that will return a lot more value for the brand.
Here’s a framework to start thinking about this. I’m sure you can see other distinctions based on your brand.
**Know that when I say “Quality”, I’m not insinuating that choosing a famous song does not produce a high quality product; I’m simply talking about the WAY that we choose music and the primary driver of value to the project.
Of course there are exceptions to both sides, and this framework is just to start raising questions about how your brand can make music choices. AND, there are strategic routes that can take advantage of the power of both, like creating a new, re-imagined version of a famous song, which I’m a huge fan of in the right situations.
Below, I give some examples to help get the ideas flowing.
What fits with the CONSUMER and the insight with which the brand is connecting with them?
- With Coldwell Banker, their target consumer told them in pre-launch testing that they preferred the music by an independent artist over a famous track. This had to do with who their consumer is and the message of “Dream” to sell your home and travel the world; one that goes against the grain and promotes designing your best life (intrinsic quality of life value vs. extrinsic acceptance). While quantitative testing is NOT a hard-and-fast guide, it often does steer us in helpful directions.
What is the role the BRAND plays in the consumers’ lives?
- I worked with a challenger, quirky retail brand recently. They’re working on building, making a splash against their larger competitors, and are also about self-expression and everyone being able to 1) express themselves and 2) afford their product. We licensed a very well-known song and made a fun and quirky new recording of that song that fits great with the brand’s unique personality, killing two powerful birds with the same stone. We’ve seen a massive uptick in brand recognizability and sales in the market.
What are the priorities for the COMPANY – And will this yield the ROI we look for (monetarily and not monetarily)?
- In the case of one of my clients, they launched an ad with random music; they knew they hadn’t quite cracked music, but they had to go to air with something. Then they were introduced to me, and the next quarter we switched out the music for a track from a signed talent but not a huge star, and we saw 10% jump in marketing ROI from one Q to the next. This resulted in many, many millions of dollars in additional sold goods and only $200,000 spent on music. The main priority wasn’t even to achieve this higher marketing effectiveness, per se. It was to connect genuinely with a new demographic of consumers…. Which we did and keep doing.
- SAVING money is a way of increasing return as well. In the case of Coldwell Banker, by choosing a track by independent talent, they saved 80% (!!) on production costs, increasing their return on investment exponentially.
Look for Value BEYOND Money.
I’m a proponent of looking at ALL forms of energy when making music (and life) choices. For some brands, building a legacy, shaping culture, contributing to a cause, et al. are more important than getting your bang for your buck. And, it’s very possible to accomplish several of these goals simultaneously. Getting clear on what you’re out to accomplish and running through an exercise around how choosing music based on celebrity or quality will automatically have you make aligned music choices.
Questions to You –
Where does your brand – or different lines, sub-brands, or campaign/projects – fit within the celebrity and quality of content paradigm? What makes the most sense for your brand? I’d love to hear.