The Music Biz 2016 conference in Nashville continued Tuesday (May 17), with panels focusing on brands and strategic partnerships.
The panel titled Fan Insights & How They Fuel The Future of Brand Partnerships welcomed consultant Barry O’Connell, UMG Nashville VP Marketing Brad Turcotte, Director of Business Strategy for Bose’s Consumer Electronics Division Eric Scheirer, Vector Management’s Head of Strategic Marketing Jim Stabile, and CAA Music Partnership Agent Megan Sykes to discuss the art and science of aligning artists with brands for marketing and activations.
The panel was produced and moderated by G7 Entertainment Marketing’s Head of Brand Partnerships & Digital Strategy Wayne Leeloy.
Though panelists say brands look at an artist’s Nielsen numbers and social media numbers, they emphasize that large numbers of social media followers may cause brands to take notice, but it does not tell the whole story.
“Brands are trained to look not at the big number but the engagement numbers,” said Stabile.
“We care about what those people, those followers, will do and how to get them involved in our brands,” said Scheirer, who then offered advice he has heard: “Think of your followers as minions, not as followers. What can you get them to do?”
Turcotte advises artists seeking brand partnerships to lead with a story, not hard data. He also says to remain open to changing course.
He offered two stories of successful UMG artist-brand partnerships for Ram Trucks with Chris Stapleton and Ford trucks with Clare Dunn.
“In my pitch I do not let data drive the brand I contact or drive the story. I had put together a pitch for Chris [Stapleton] and Nissan trucks, based off the title track of Traveller. But in meeting with Chris, he said, ‘My song is not about a road trip, and I don’t drive a Nissan. I drive a Ram truck. “Traveller” is about something passed down from generation to generation.’ So the pitch became, ‘Tell us, Ram drivers, about what you passed down generation to generation.’ At that point, there was no data in the pitch to the company.”
He noted that the Ram truck campaign began in June 2015, before Stapleton’s career trajectory skyrocketed and his album sold more than 1 million copies after his performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards.
With Dunn, Turcotte took her passion for Ford trucks and took that story directly to the brand.
“She was playing Detroit and we took her to play for Ford representatives,” he said. “They wanted an EPK to send to staff, so I made my own and sent it.”
That EPK featured Dunn emotionally discussing about how she grew up using Ford trucks, from the family’s 1996 Power Stroke to her 2012 F-150 “Black Betty.”
After seeing the video, Ford’s social strategist reached out to say they wanted to reach more females and they thought it might be a good fit.
“They posted that video and it had 100K hits in 24 hours,” said Turcotte. “We put together a five-part series, and went to Clare’s ranch to show how she uses other Ford equipment. We are saving that for the album launch. It’s authentic. We still haven’t asked for any money. Ford has like have 5 million social fans, so it’s not always about money, it’s about reach.”
Scheirer advised artists to try to think in marketing terms, to find what message a particular brand is trying to get across to consumers, and how they can align with that message.
“We need to tell stories to rise above the competition. There are different kinds of stories. One might be, ‘Hey, we are Bose and we care about certain things and so do you.’ That’s like Chris and Ram. That’s the highest level of branding story. Or, it might be, ‘You’ve heard of Bose, but you don’t know about this new product.’ If we can engage a musician and show off a new product, that’s an angle. Another is ‘We love music and want to see rising musicians succeed. We can help move industry forward.’ If the music industry is succeeding, then that is more people who will potentially purchase our products. What is the story the brand wants to tell? Can you help them imagine a story the brand hasn’t told yet?
Later in the day, New Heartland Group’s Paul Jankowski spoke on the importance of brand building and cultural marketing. He has worked on campaigns with Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, and more.
Jankowski, also the author of How To Speak American: Building Brands In The New Heartland and Speak American Too: Your Guide To Building Brands in the New Heartland, said that 60 percent of consumers reside in what he calls the “New Heartland,” which includes the Midwest, Southwest, and parts of the Southeast.
For New Heartland consumers, the keys to their culture are food, sports, music, outdoor activities and social activities.
He offered several statistics revolving around the values of these consumers. For example, they prefer college football to pro football by a two-to-one margin. For these sports fan, football becomes a generational piece to be passed down through families.
Additionally, they tend to hit life milestones earlier, including marrying earlier, and having children at earlier ages. They tend to listen to country music more often and are more politically conservative, when compared to consumers who live on either coast.
Among the other various speakers Tuesday were Nielsen’s Erin Crawford and Matt Yazge, UMG Nashville’s Doug Philips, FlyteVu’s Laura Hutfless, CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner, Live Nation’s Lauren Ryan, GLADD’s Zeke Stokes, Q Prime South’s Jessica Phelps, Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s Ted Goldthorpe, RIAA’s Josh Friedlander, Warner Music Group’s Jeff Stevenson, The Recording Academy’s Maureen Droney, and more.
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About the AuthorJessica Nicholson is a staff writer with MusicRow Enterprises. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine, TasteofCountry.com and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]
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