TV Ads Are Not A Music Strategy

I found myself talking to a brand marketer today, who proudly told me that he was “doing things in the music business”…After asking some basic questions, I discovered that what he meant by this statement was that he had simply instructed his advertising agency to use some commercial music in a series of forthcoming ads…

Having run through what I’d considered simple questions about the choice of genre, artists, songs, lyrical content, pace of the songs etc. – simply trying to understand the thinking and what plans there were around the campaign in terms of activation and amplification – I realised I was opening up a can of worms.

I continued in my search for answers and asked whether there were any plans to work further with the artists, any plans for live activation, special releases or any social media support in the pipeline etc., I was met by a barrage of apologetic excuses and an explanation that his advertising agency were running the campaign and just focused on the TV ad. A wasted opportunity, for sure.

After asking myself who is the custodian of the brand (client or agency?), I proceeded to probe further in an attempt to understand the process this marketer had experienced in greater detail. To no surprise at all I discovered (and this involved the marketer digging into some emails from his agency) that in fact the music had been chosen by what appears to be a junior creative, who I would imagine had no connection with the audience the campaign was aimed at. My guess is that the choice of music was simply down to personal taste (of the creative) and, in fact, I would argue that what was chosen was probably not the right music nor genre for the demographic being targeted.

I was asked what I would expect to pay for the particular track which was used. The amount of money spent on the music appeared to be above market rate, meaning the ROI is likely to therefore be low (because of all the above) – all bad news, not just for the marketer, but actually for a music industry keen to attract brand investment in the future.

To get to my point, using music should be approached in the same way as any ‘properly’ strategically led campaign. I would always suggest (as a bare minimum) where possible to use insight to help plan before applying any creative thinking around the music. Then consider amplification (i.e. what can be done around the asset beyond just usage in a TV campaign) and be smart with the purchasing of the music, making sure you get ALL of the rights you need at the best possible price (which might not necessarily be what you are told it is going to cost). There are a few independent professionals out there specialising in music procurement.

The contact I met today didn’t only get his choice of music wrong for his audience, but is aiming at an audience who are not major consumers of TV. The budget spent on production and media could have enabled his brand to put on a really impactful live event (concert), which would have been shared by his own consumers, with additional amplification via online channels that his audience interact with daily (whether Snapchat, Facebook Live, YouTube, Spotify etc.).

To conclude: music strategies are not just about syncing music for TV advertising. There is so much more that can be done which is more engaging, has higher impact and enables marketers to track and measure ROI.

On top of this, do not assume an advertising agency can put together a music-based strategy for you. This is often not their forte (of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule).

The above may be basic to some but clearly not to some. There are so many opportunities for brands to innovate in the music space (i.e. beyond making yet another TV ad). Do get in touch if you are a marketer uncertain of how to break the mould. It’s not difficult working with the right team…