To paraphrase William Shakespeare's famous soliloquy: "All the world's a stage and all the products and brands merely players." Brands are increasingly becoming on-stage players as they look for new ways to interact with consumers and create relevant, engaging experiences through entertainment-based marketing strategies -- and increasingly this means music.
For example Starbucks, McDonald's, Pepsi and Coke are brands operating well in this area and are, in many instances, turning into entertainment companies themselves. At the same time, artists no longer fear "selling out" by being associated with brands and appreciate that brands can give them something that record labels find increasingly difficult to give nowadays: exposure, money and added value for their fans, which in turn rubs off onto the brands themselves.
All over the world we are seeing great examples of bands and brands coming together to benefit fans. This year Prince linked up with a top British media brand, The Mail On Sunday, to give away a copy of his latest CD, "Planet Earth," to more than 2.5 million readers. This promotion created a massive uplift in sales for the paper and publicity for Prince -- enough to sell out 21 consecutive nights at top British Rock venue the O2 Centre. Back in the U.S., Prince used the same imagery (using good old consistency in promoting the Prince "brand") in his promotion with Verizon, whereby the first single from the album was made available exclusively to owners of the V Cast phone.
At the other end of the spectrum, Toyota marquee brand Scion has now been building a very neat "anti-glitz" indie music grassroots campaign for a few years with internet radio stations, exclusive tie-ins with labels and compilation CDs. All of this has been done in a very altruistic, almost non-commercial way that's really in keeping with Scion's ultra cool and quirky brand image.
I've spent the last year totally immersed in music and entertainment, a significant departure from my previous eight-year stint at Interpublic, where I traveled across the global stage and worked with various multinational FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies as a key global executive for IPG's Initiative Worldwide.
I'll be giving an international perspective to Songs for Soap and looking beyond which songs appear in which ads, observing the ways that "bands and brands" interact to produce great pieces of communication that benefit both sides. Charlie and I will also be looking at new models, revenue streams and ways of working in both the brands and bands business.
If you have any interesting examples that you'd like to bring to my attention, please e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ ~ ~
Mike Tunnicliffe, former global advertising executive at Interpublic, is a music and entertainment entrepreneur and adviser on brand-integration development to a number of music-related businesses and clients. Tunnicliffe is also the business and personal manager of a select group of musical artists. Originally from Manchester, England, he spent most of his career in London and now resides in New York