Marrying The Music To The Corporate Brand

Marilyn Batchelor of Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records

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Who: Marilyn Batchelor, vice president of strategic marketing at Interscope/Geffen/A&M

Credentials: Before joining Interscope/Geffen/A&M, Ms.

Batchelore was vice president and head of strategic marketing for MCA Records before the label was rolled into Geffen Records in 2001. Prior to that, she marketed many artists on the roster as a marketing director. Ms. Batchelor started her career Virgin Records.

In her current position, she has helped put together national ad and promotion campaigns pairing Ashlee Simpson with Mattel, The Roots and Coca-Cola, Mary J. Blige and Reebok, and Mos Def and GM's Denali. She has also partnered the labels' other music acts with brands including Burger King, Nissan, Toyota, Chrysler, Hasbro, Samsung and Verizon, among others.

What is Interscope/Geffen/A&M's M&V play?
"We have recognized that the marriage of art and commerce is absolutely necessary. As a result, the development of this area [strategic marketing] has been inevitable. We have structured deals with corporate partners and implemented joint music initiatives. Out goal is to marry the music and the brand for a common goal of reaching the consumer more effectively. Some of the campaigns such as the U2 iPod, brokered by our chairman, Jimmy Iovine, and our new media team, also represent new innovations."

What can a brand get out of partnering up with a musical artist?
"There are so many advantages. First of all, everything revolves around music, from commercials to infomercials to TV, film and video. So, involving the artist takes it one step further. In some cases, consumers know the song, but not the artist. So it is the music that connects the two and gives the brand credibility with consumers."

What are some challenges you face?
"It is often difficult to connect the deadlines and timing of record release schedules with those of corporate marketing departments. At the labels, we are more impulsive and are able to react to change a lot quicker. So we sometimes miss great opportunities to partner with brands and agencies because there is not enough lead time in the campaign for them to react. The other challenge can be the educating process on both sides -- making sure the label/artist management and the brand and agency understand why the campaign should happen. That can be a bit time-consuming."

Where do you see the relationship with advertisers going?
"Music is a part of life, without trying to sound corny or overly philosophical. We do everything in our life to music, from the time we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. The connection to music influences everything we do. Together, with advertisers, we can embrace the consumer and continue to soften the hard sell approach."

What keeps you up at night?
"Ideas and my mind going at high speed.

I am always thinking. I keep notepads on my nightstand to wake up and write on."

What songs have you recently loaded onto your iPod?
"I love my iPod. I cover the gamut of music. I recently loaded the new Snoop CD; the Dana Owens Album (Queen Latifah's new CD); Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life; the new Rahsaan Patterson CD and Cece Winans, along with some other old-school music from Carole King to the Emotions and the Spinners."

Who are your mentors?
"They start with my mom to my first boss, Sharon Heyward, to music executive Jheryl Busby. And then there are a few who have no idea how much they inspire me, like new Motown chairperson Sylvia Rhone and my two bosses, Jimmy Iovine and Steve Berman, because they come up with such innovative concepts that give me hope for this business. They help reinforce the notion that art and commerce can truly work."
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