Urban Campaign Markets Beer and Music

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Marriages of marketers and musicians are not new, as the success of the long-running jazz festival sponsored in the 1980s by Kool cigarettes proves.

Now beer maker Heineken U.S.A. has put an unusual spin on the tried-and-true formula for reaching consumers with the help of its advertising agency, a newly launched entertainment marketing firm and a record label.

The most immediately tangible result of this combined effort is a compact disc titled Soul Searching, which includes tracks by top recording artists such as Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, Amel Larrieux and the Roots.

Red Star Sounds
Recorded on the newly launched label Red Star Sounds, the CD hits music-store shelves nationwide Oct. 9 and will retail for about $20. A red star is one of Heineken's symbols.

Heineken U.S.A. indirectly financed the project by establishing the nonprofit Heineken Foundation, to which it donated $3 million. Foundation President Scott Hunter Smith -- also one of three full-time brand managers for the beer maker -- used the money to pay recording and CD distribution costs.

Mr. Hunter Smith also hired entertainment consultant Stronghold,

See the full video spot on AdReview.com

The Red Star album -- 'Red Star' is a Heineken marketing logo.
which linked the musicians and Epic Records with the marketer and its agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners, New York.

Mr. Hunter Smith said if Soul Searching connects with consumers, it could do much more than just sell music and generate money.

Consumers are often skeptical of corporations purporting to be selfless, and makers of potentially harmeful products, such as alcoholic beverages, must be particularly careful when making good Samaritan claims.

"As a beer company, it is hard to do good things for a community," Mr. Hunter Smith noted.

Hence the CD, where the Heineken name appears only in small print. A portion of net profits generated from sales will be donated to nonprofit organizations such as VH1 Save the Music.

"For the brand, it is a rub-off," said Eric Cohen, a partner in Stronghold.

Three spots, created by Lowe Lintas, now airing on WB, BET, UPN and VH1 aim first to entertain viewers, and then push the brand -- but only lightly.

Music videos
The spots were shot to look like music videos. "We wanted to involve the artist in a story," said Shana Bellot, Heineken account supervisor at Lowe Lintas.

In 2000, Heineken sales rose 10% to 54 million cases in the U.S., putting it in second place behind Corona, according to drinks publication Impact.

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