By the demo: music for the ages

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Teenagers pay close attention to commercial links and the wrong association can spell doom for a band, say industry executives.

"Advertisers are more interested in associating with hot new music, whereas several years ago they were missing opportunities," says Andrew Klein, president of Revolution Marketing. Marketers are having success by associating with narrow demographics adopted by age groups. Celine Dion songs may or may not help sell Chryslers to boomers, but Good Charlotte rocks likely Honda Civic drivers. Following are the marketing tactics used by top musical groups targeting specific age groups:

Act: The Wiggles

Music co.: Hit Entertainment, Dallas

Target: Preschoolers

The Wiggles were Australia's No. 1 music act among preschoolers in 1999, but they were unknown in the U.S. when Hit Entertainment, the Dallas-based keepers of the Barney the Dinosaur franchise, got behind their marketing.

"The beauty of marketing to tots is that every few years you get a fresh crop who is just as excited about good entertainment as the last crowd," says Sue Beddington, director of marketing for Hit, which launched the act here by tagging clips onto Barney videos. In-store promotion and live tours, not advertising, made The Wiggles stars, she says, plus a word-of-mouth pr push through the "mommy network" and an online message board for parents (thewiggles.com).

Launched by Lyrick Studios (acquired by Hit in 2001), The Wiggles are four Aussie men mostly in their 40s who studied early childhood education before becoming musicians touring around the world, says Ms. Beddington. Cross-promotion, all handled in-house, through Hit's various preschool franchises that include Bob the Builder, continues to drive the brand's success. Thirteen Wiggles videos have been released in the U.S.; "Magical Adventure: A Wiggly Movie" came out this year, and The Wiggles appear daily on Disney Channel's "Playhouse Disney."

Act: Hilary Duff

Music co.: Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Records

Target: Tweens

Tweens fell under the spell of Hilary Duff as an actress when she starred in Disney Channel's "The Lizzie McGuire Show" series beginning in 2001, but when she started singing last year, they made her into a radio star. First came the song "I Can't Wait," to accompany the TV series' soundtrack, followed by a Christmas album, which aired exclusively on Disney's radio and cable TV outlets.

The release this year of Disney's "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" and soundtrack with Ms. Duff's hit song "Why Not" whetted kids' appetites for more. This fall her music will be unleashed on mainstream media with her new album "Metamorphosis" from Disney's Buena Vista Records.

Although Ms. Duff, 15, has shot her last episode of "Lizzie McGuire" and opted against making a sequel to that film, Disney has two additional music projects in the pipeline with her, to be released over the next 18 months, says Damon Whiteside, Buena Vista Records' director of marketing. "Nurturing Hilary Duff's music career within Disney's own media channels provided powerful cross-marketing opportunities, but now we're branching out with her," says Mr. Whiteside. The new album will be marketed on MTV and in magazines ranging from Seventeen to Rolling Stone; all advertising is handled in-house.

Act: Good Charlotte

Music co.: Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records

Target: Teens

It took about three years for Good Charlotte's frontmen, 24-year-old twins Joel and Benji Madden, and their bandmates to become an overnight sensation among those between 13 and 20 years old. The original traction came from local buzz in their home state of Maryland, which ultimately translated to gigs in the high-profile Van's Warped Tour in 2001 and 2002.

Last year their breakout single, "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous," from their album "The Young & the Hopeless," gave Good Charlotte a broad following among teenagers. Key elements in their rise to fame included appearances on MTV and a heavily trafficked Web site (goodcharlotterocks.com).

For many of today's youths, a song only becomes real when they see it on video or "play it" on a videogame, says Steve Schnur, worldwide executive of music and audio for Electronic Arts. Good Charlotte's song "The Anthem," first reached kids in August 2002 on EA Sports' Madden 2003 football videogame. A month later its official release came on the album "The Young and the Hopeless," and its exposure boosted album sales considerably, says Epic. "The game sold more than five million copies and based on average game-playing patterns, that song has been played over 500 million times on the videogame," says Mr. Schnur. "Videogames are the dominant media channel for a lot of these kids."

Act: Missy Elliott

Music co.: AOL Time Warner's Elektra Entertainment

Target: Generation Y

Hip-hop's biggest female star, Missy Elliott, didn't even rap or sing when she appeared in a Vanilla Coke commercial with Chazz Palminteri earlier this year from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., proving her well-entrenched fame with young adult fans. She has also appeared in Reebok TV spots, and her music will soon help sell duds from the Gap in TV commercials.

"Artists used to shun TV commercials, but today TV has become a premium opportunity to reach fans-as long as it's the right fit," says Brian Cohen, senior VP-marketing for AOL Time Warner's Elektra Entertainment, which handles Ms. Elliott's music.

To reach this level, it took several years of grassroots marketing including live performances and hand-delivering her music to influential DJs and club promoters, says Mr. Cohen. "There are so many media channels these days, and each one has to be worked right down to the last detail," he says.

Ms. Elliott's fourth album, "Under Construction," was released last year to great acclaim. "We have more avenues to reach audiences these days, from local joints to online, contests and wireless text messaging, but managing all those avenues is very labor intensive," says Mr. Cohen.

Act: The White Stripes

Music co.: Virgin Entertainment's V2 Records

Target: Generation X

The liner notes of The White Stripes' latest album, "Elephant," declare no computer equipment was used to record it-typical of the quirky duo's originality and its appeal to jaded thirtysomethings. This year the fourth album from singer-guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White shot up the charts, making the Detroit pair's act one of the hottest tickets nationwide.

Virgin Entertainment's V2 Records used a sly ploy in its advance press for the album: only vinyl copies were sent. "No one would admit they didn't have a turntable handy," says Lisa Klipsic, V2's marketing director, "but it sure cut down on the number of people burning copies of the album and [illegally] sending them onto the Internet."

Another unique twist: The White Stripes appeared for four consecutive nights on NBC-TV's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," playing various songs from the album.

The White Stripes have never inked any advertising or promotional tie-ins, other than those that are routine to promote records through major retail chains. V2 is modeled like an independent label, and the band generates its own art. "There are just three of us marketing The White Stripes, and we keep it pretty basic," says Ms. Klipsic.

Act: Celine Dion

Music co.: Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records

Target: Baby boomers

Because celine dion appeals to a broad audience, TV advertising tie-ins and mainstream marketing are the perfect tool for promoting her music, says Piero Giramonti, senior VP-marketing for Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records Group. "A younger audience might be more skeptical about overt commercial tie-ins, but an older audience is receptive to mass media messages," he says.

The multipronged marketing juggernaut surrounding the release this year of Ms. Dion's album "One Heart" included four TV commercials for DaimlerChrysler via Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, Troy, Mich., plus auto dealer and trade show appearances. Epic has also promoted Ms. Dion's music through this year's opening of her Las Vegas show, which is slated to run for three years. Omnicom's Arnell Group, New York, also played a key role in the deal between DaimlerChrysler and Ms. Dion.

Using in-house resources, Epic has advertised Ms. Dion's new album through various print and outdoor channels. To reach new fans, Epic has used non-traditional promotional methods including sponsoring local TV weather reports and talk radio programs, as well as radio contests.

While Ms. Dion's music has gotten a boost, Chrysler's had problems moving its new Pacifica and Crossfire models. For now, the carmaker will use the singer's music in commercials but her days as the public face of Chrysler appear curtailed.