Corporate Brandstand

If you could choose a song to use in marketing your company, what song (or group) would you choose? Asks Julia Cupman in her latest Thursday Night Insight article.

It’s a difficult question to answer as music is highly subjective.

I remember shopping in one of the leading supermarkets in France several years ago and hearing a pop song playing on the loudspeakers that was popular at the time, with the lyrics: “Alice, Alice, who the **** is Alice?” I almost dropped the bananas I was examining at the time, shocked at how a supermarket could have such a song playing on its loudspeakers, but also amused at how the store was clearly oblivious to what it was exposing to its customers.

However, I’m not talking about background music played in stores, airplanes, hotels or wherever your trading environment may be. And I’m also not talking about background music in commercials.

I am referring to music that goes far beyond the promotional mix to the extent that it is included in your offering, such as Starbucks selling CDs in its stores.

It is the latest craze: companies like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nike, Converse, Bacardi and Red Bull are starting to promote and distribute music themselves. For example, Caress, a Unilever skin care product, commissioned a singer from the Pussycat Dolls to record a version of Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ that it showed on its website to promote its Brazilian Exotic Oil Infusions body wash. The extended product offering was a means of drawing interest in Unilever’s product that was in tune with the product’s tropical, sensuous image.

A musical brandstand of this kind is proof of how companies have had to revitalize their image and explore innovative ways of attracting their target audience. Indeed, a few years ago, the top artists would never have deigned to align their talent with the likes of body wash, but such a move is of benefit to the artists as well as the corporate brands. The music industry is facing tough times and companies seeking synergies with musical artists offer promotional opportunities and dual exposure for both parties concerned.

Anne Jensen, a brand-building director at Unilever, stated in the New York Times, “We don’t just want to talk to people. We want to give them something that adds value to their lives”.

Although adding value through musical offerings like these is unlikely to be appropriate for industrial markets, there may well be ways in which value can be added through extending your product offering that is more in tune with business needs. Companies like Unilever have simply recognized the needs of its audience beyond its core value proposition. Consider having music at your sales conference or at a press function, sponsoring a local band or orchestra, or taking customers (or staff) to a concert. Coutts (the private bankers to the Queen), for example, use musical events to soften their wealthy clients.

It doesn’t have to be musical artists on your brandstand. Extending your offering beyond your core products in a way that will resonate with your target audience will refresh your company’s image and yield a return on investment.

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