Musician on stage, image by Michael Hemmingsson

Sounds authentic

20. May 2016, Editorial

Advertising without music is like a product without a name. Both are missing something essential. Some brands don’t even bother looking for the right song - they go straight to musicians.


red bull

There’s a proven recipe: Take one product, find a well-known pop song, mix well by laying image and sound tracks, and voilà! – it’s an advertising nosh-up. Good whilst being consumed with a solid finish. However, for advanced advertisers, there’s a second approach to preparation. One that allows brand and music to meld into one another and mutually reinforce each other. More time is invested in the process, and often more money, but the end product becomes an acquired taste – and worth the money.

Music is at least as important to Red Bull as its primary ingredient, taurine.

Red Bull understands how to hang music on its brand the way no one else does and to create an image that reflects the way they want to be seen. That’s why Pharrell Williams casually dances through the advertisement spots, and the cool Awolnation regularly adds soundtracks for videos. The company wants to communicate a feeling of life that fits its image. Young, adventurous, hedonistic. Red Bull takes the initiative by getting involved with many musicians very early on, and by getting involved in music scenes. The company has a label, twelve recording studios and organises an annual workshop to bring new talent together with established names in the music business. It’s about long-term partnerships between brands and musicians from which both can benefit because they jointly generate maximum attention.

The Converse company makes use of its decades-long cult to increasingly use musical brand messages.

Converse’s ambitions are similar to Red Bull’s but quite a bit more ‘cultish’. Rock musicians have been putting on shows in their Chuck Taylor All Star trainers since the 50’s, and when the Punk scene rediscovered them a few years later, there has hardly been another shoe model on feet. That’s why – conversely – the company also now uses musical brand messages. CMO Geoff Cottrill said, in an interview with Fast Company magazine: “For us, our primary customers are musicians and artists, not just people from whom we can profit by increasing their level of coolness”. This mutual support with Converse is also reflected in two projects. “Three Artists, One Song” is a project in which successful musicians are invited to group sessions. And “Converse Rubber Tracks” gives rising bands the opportunity to record under the direction of a well-known producer in one of twelve professional studios – free of charge, and still keep their copyrights. The only agreement is about their shoes in future appearances – a style element that is marketed to fans along with the music.

The question is, as always
in marketing: Is it authentic?

Because, in the end, it’s all about selling the advertised product. Equal partnerships, common events, all that is secondary. The most important ingredient remains believability and credibility. Not every brand fits every musician, and it isn’t the best marketing strategy for everyone. Sometimes it is completely sufficient to choose a well-known pop song as background music for a good video. For Red Bull and Converse, the symbiotic relationship with the musicians works because the brands already draw from the lifestyle spring of the music scene. It’s all brilliant, young and very easy.

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