Advertising Week 2015

How Beyonce Classed Up 'Mommy Porn'

Advertising Week Music Panel Also Tells How 'Minions' Invaded Coachella

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Credit: Beyoncé Knowles: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images; Fifty Shades of Grey: Universal Pictures; Composite by Ad Age

Universal Pictures has a close connection to music. It's the studio that produced "Pitch Perfect" and "Straight Out of Compton" among other blockbusters. Yet today at an Advertising Week panel on music marketing it was another of its films that got some attention: "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Doug Neil, exec VP-digital marketing at Universal Pictures, spent a lot of time talking about the company's integrations for the upcoming "Gem and the Holograms," but in discussing music's role in marketing he also brought up the less obvious example of "Fifty Shades."

"A big connection point was Beyonce," he said, who did some tracks for the film and generated the first tease for it on her Instagram account showing her recording them. This legitimized a movie that some considered "mommy porn," said Mr. Neil. "She classed it up."

He also noted that music is a great means to attach to popular culture and get buzz. For "Minions," among other marketing efforts, the studio tricked out the characters in tie-dye and placed them at the Coachella Festival in wild postings, which was a great success, said Mr. Neil, "until the Coachella police shut it down."

Others on the panel, which was sponsored by Vevo, were unsurprisingly music evangelists. JR Badian, VP-digital marketing and social media and CRM at MasterCard, touted its "Priceless surprises" campaign offering fans unexpected experiences with stars like Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake. The latter netted the company 800,000 social media mentions, he said.

Music also has been a big focus for Sour Patch Kids in reaching teens and millennials. Farrah Bezner, marketing director, Hall's and candy at Mondelez, discussed how the confectioner has been allying with up-and-coming musicians by offering them access to two houses in Austin and Brooklyn called the Patch houses. Here, they can stay for free and record -- while pushing out the experience on social media called Patch Sessions.

Though musicans on the rise will not offer the reach of a Beyonce, Ms. Bezner said the company is finding that the artists it is housing, such as the X Ambassadors, are getting more and more popular, and therefore drawing more and more attention to the brand.

Another panelist, Tricia Clarke-Stone, CEO of Narrative, outlined how her company helped UnderArmour link up with Pharrell and the NFL's Ray Lewis to create a mix tape for its "Natural Born Hitters" campaign. The effort allowed fans to remix the track and it was used on a spot that ran during "Monday Night Football."

The session started with some stats about music and millennials from a Vevo study. Among them: Music generates 126 million social media posts a month versus 11 million for TV and 8 million for movies. The study also segmented millennial music fans into four groups -- talent scouts, who use music as social currency; front row fans, who find music has an emotional connection; crowdsurfers who primarily view music as entertainment; and soloists, who internalize music and make their friends listen to only what they themselves like.

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