Walmart, Unilever Up Partnership in Retailer's Music Site

Marketer Promotes Its Products on Soundcheck With the Likes of All-American Rejects, Nickelback

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- As a means to sell more music and attract more visitors to its music microsite, Walmart has teamed up with Unilever for an entertainment- and shopper-marketing program that appears to be gaining momentum.

Bands like The All-American Rejects are featured alongside Unilever's products on Walmart shelves as well as the retailer's sponsored music portal, Soundcheck.
Bands like The All-American Rejects are featured alongside Unilever's products on Walmart shelves as well as the retailer's sponsored music portal, Soundcheck.
In the latest incarnation of the partnership, Unilever is merchandising its new Axe Hair lineup of hair-care products for the cheeky men's brand in stores alongside CDs from All-American Rejects, Gym Class Heroes, David Cook and Nickelback, while simultaneously sponsoring Walmart's Soundcheck microsite, which has been backed by the marketer's personal-care brands since earlier this year.

Backed Beyonce's new album
In similar fashion, Unilever backed the launch of Beyonce's "I Am Sasha Fierce" CD last month with displays that promoted the album alongside Suave products, as well as promoting another release from Beyonce's sister, Solange, who also had an exclusive interview on Soundcheck sponsored by Caress.

Unilever's Suave also sponsored interviews and exclusive video performances by Beyonce on Soundcheck in November. And Axe sponsored a studio concert performance and a free MP3 download by All-American Rejects earlier this month.

For its part, Dove in October sponsored a "Women in Music" program on Soundcheck featuring videos of nine artists, including Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill, at the brand's self-esteem workshops for girls.

Walmart's Soundcheck initiative dates back to 2006, when it primarily focused on exclusive concerts played on the retailer's in-store TV network operated by Thomson's PRN. Procter & Gamble brands such as Gillette Fusion and Venus sponsored exclusive content on the microsite last year.

Program takes off
But the online program appears to have taken off considerably this year in terms of viewership and in-store merchandising support, as Unilever has featured it in programs with most of its major personal-care brands. Unilever and Walmart have gotten mentions about its promotions and exclusive content on Soundcheck in the blogosphere, using a giveaway of a Danity Kane CD and Degree products, for example, on one blog this spring.

URLfan.com now ranks Soundcheck in the top 1% of the 3.7 million sites it tracks in terms of blog mentions, averaging a mention about one every three days. A preview of Beyonce's Suave-sponsored Soundcheck appearance last month has drawn about 844,000 views on YouTube, and a Soundcheck appearance by the lesser-known Danity Kane, sponsored by Degree deodorant, has garnered more than 400,000 YouTube views.

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