When most people think of how commercial music interacts with brands they think of a traditional music sync to an advert on TV. Growing up certain songs in advertising gripped me with their nontraditional approach to music sync. Mr Ozio’s ‘Flat Beat’ with Levi’s instantly struck a chord with my rebellious teenage years, and even 20 years on, every time I think of one, I think of the other.  On a different note, José Gonzalez’s poignant ‘Heartbeats’, paired perfectly with Sony’s bouncing balls ad, played deep and meaningfully in my late teens mind.

Many of us build a special connection with music over our years, and therefore it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that it is not the advert that made my rebellious or deep and meaningful self feel as I did when I first saw the ad on TV. Rather it was the music that gripped me and got my attention but done so via the power of advertising. Whilst TV adverts remain a key marketing tool and their choice of music is often critical to a campaigns success, brand marketers are now connecting with music fans in new ways.

At the end of 2017, Smirnoff showed how well music partnerships can be done. Made in association with the LGBT Foundation, Smirnoff cast DJ & Producer Honey Dijon and other prominent LGBT talents, to front Smirnoff’s ‘We Are Open’ campaign.  In addition, Smirnoff empowered Honey Dijon to team up with vocalist Sam Sparro to recreate a disco classic ‘Stars’, originally made famous by pioneering androgynous artist Sylvester, with the result synched to the brands TV and Online spots.

Add a significant contribution to charities supporting trans rights and you have a brand showing genuine interest into the scene they are investing in.  For that the campaign should be praised.  Beyond a traditional music sync in an advert, Smirnoff pieced together talent casting, music sync, and philanthropy into one campaign.  

Creating a positive impact whilst retaining the authenticity are difficult points to align when it comes to brand partnerships.  Yet, when done well though they make for truly memorable campaigns.   That was the challenge Morton Salt marketers faced when they were tasked to create the brand’s first campaign in its 168 year old history.

Around the same time, recently independent band OKGO needed the help of a brand to put together an exceptionally unique video for their song ‘The One Moment’.  The song describes moments that truly matter in life where you are most alive.  It synched well with Morton Salt’s new ‘Walk Her Walk’ mantra, a call to action people to step up and become a good force.   Add the fact that Morton Salt and OKGO both hail from Chicago, and the fit between brand, band and song became an authentic, although unlikely fit.

In the case of Dentsu Lab Tokyo and Bjork, what started as a music video collaboration, in the end became so much more. Dentsu approached Greenlight to provide potential music partners so they could highlight technologies they were developing. No artist was more apt in this field than Bjork.   A number of conversations later, a deal had been inked which saw Dentsu develop and introduce their technology into Bjork’s Mouth Mantra music video.

The video, an other worldly experience seemingly located in Bjork’s mouth, demonstrates that a partnership needs to allow for artist direction and development. Throughout the process, Dentsu listened and engaged with Bjork’s creative suggestions. Their participation enabled Bjork to extend her creative development and allow herself to be expressive and true to who she as an artist.  The partnership didn’t end with the video. Dentsu Lab Tokyo formed a further alliance with Bjork, helping create Bjork Digital, the immersive VR exhibit. The exhibit saw Bjork offer fans in sixteen countries a brand new and immensely exciting world in which to experience her and her music, with Dentsu Lab Tokyo being the technology that allowed this creative dream to come true.

Brands can engage with music in multiple ways beyond synch rights.  When brands deliver these campaigns successfully, they gain credibility, engagement, and the eyes of consumers far beyond traditional ATL marketing. In addition, the delivery of these messages provides greater value to the consumers a brand wants to attract, whilst surprising and exciting their current community.

Tim Waine is a Senior Client Manager at Greenlight UK.