Brands Go On Tour

Leveraging live music resonates

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% In an age of media clutter and fragmentation, marketers consistently worry about their messages getting lost in the muddle. Brands believe that working with the $2 billion live-music industry can be a laser-sharp method to target a particular demographic.

Entertainment-marketing execs are quick to remind us, however, that pairing up with the concert industry is about more than hitting a bull's-eye. It's about connection— with both the audience and the music.

"It is not just about reach, it is about really relating to an audience," explains Bruce Eskowitz, president of national sales and marketing for Clear Channel Entertainment, the world's largest producer of live events. "We create events that people plan their [lives] around. We hit them where they are really passionate."

THE NAME OF THE GAME

Tapping into this passion requires more than slapping a banner on a stage, and marketers these days are savvy enough to know that. Integration is truly the name of the game when it comes to creating successful music partnerships.

"It can't just be 'let's pay for signage,'" says Steve Yanovsky, VP of branded-content marketing agency Buzztone. Advertisers are looking for "the big components that can really resonate."

This means pre-and post- tour tie-ins to stretch the value of the partnership. Kraft Easy Mac is embarking on a collaboration with the 2003 Vans Warped Tour, a festival show sponsored by the shoe company since 1996. A CD compilation with purchase, a "Rock the Mac Shack" at each tour venue, and an online contest to win a concert at school are all pieces of the puzzle.

All the elements help create personal brand experiences revolving around a love of music, says Eriko Clevenger, Easy Mac brand manager. "Having a personal experience resonates more with teens than mass marketing."

Artists welcome this integrated approach, says Julia Lipari, senior VP-special events and marketing at Jive Records, who has been instrumental in the branding of Britney Spears. "They are looking for the big wins," she says. "Our artists don't want to have thousands of ancillary relationships; they want one, two or three significant relationships. If the marriage is right, it is right on a broad scale."

"In past years artists were reluctant. Now they see the value of the right fit," agrees Kevin Gelbard of CAA. These multi-platform deals often help an artist launch an album or a tour, he added, creating a win-win situation.

MADE TO ORDER

Clear Channel Entertainment controls 135 venues around the world, which makes producing tours like the hard-rocking giant, Ozzfest, a natural extension. But marketers turn to CCE not just to attach their names to a massive tour, but also to reach consumers on a more personal level, Eskowitz says.

And what could be more personal than a brand creating its own tour? CCE is now working with Adidas' Adrenaline cologne on "A Night of Adrenaline"— a five-date customized tour featuring The Pussycat Dolls as well as select DJs. It is one of about 10 custom tours they will produce this year.

Creating a tour gives a marketer a chance to showcase the brand personality. And in some cases, they find they can get more bang for the buck by striking a deal with emerging artists, and not the big names.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% "It makes the brand seem more cutting-edge," explains Kevin Lyman, VP of Immortal Entertainment Events and Touring. "When you are helping launch new artists, there will always be that curiosity there." And, adds Lyman, it makes the brand seem like it really takes an interest in music, which resonates with the consumer.

The 2003 Sprite Liquid Mix Tour, produced by Immortal, offers music fans the chance to see up-and-coming artists like O.A.R. and Flogging Molly for just $10 a pop. This adds the perception that a brand is giving the audience great value, according to Lyman.

THE WILD WEST

But while many are doing it, entering into the music business must not be taken lightly, cautions Laura Caraccioli-Davis, VP-director of Starcom Media Vest Group Entertainment. "The music industry is like dealing with the Wild West. There are no rules."

Record labels, artists, managers, venue-owners, lawyers— all try to claim some ownership when it comes to scoring a big multimedia deal. But at the end of the day it is the artist that makes the decision, she says, so find a way to get close to the talent.

And there are judgment calls to be made on the corporate side as well. Caraccioli-Davis tells the saga of one marketer with whom she worked, which had to deal with the fallout from a postponed tour because of a band member's drinking problem.

The bottom line, she says: "Advertisers are going to have to be smart if they are going to play this game."

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