Entertainment Marketing: Its Not Just About The Music

KeithUrbanEscapeTogetherAs we wrap up Keith Urban’s Escape Together Tour for Kingsford and KC Masterpiece and launch into a new program for a financial services firm in 2010, I’m reminded of how complex and emotional the entertainment marketing business can be.

For marketers it can be a double-edged sword. You want to partner with artists who your audiences like, while staying true to your brand. Not to mention, members of your team and executives alike may have different opinions on who the right artist is to represent your company. Unfortunately, these decisions are all-to-often wrought with personal preferences, and sometimes made without fully evaluating opportunities against business objectives which can lead to failure in generating Return on Investment.

Here are a few thoughts to help you balance the the emotion with rational criteria as you play musical chairs with artists, sponsorships and program activation.

Audience: Do the demographics of the artist’s audience match your brands target audience? Tools like NPD music watch can help you understand what music consumers buy, where, and why they buy. This database includes market share by specific artists, genres, companies, labels, and titles as well as consumer behavior, attitudes, and demographics.

Brand Alignment: What are the key attributes of your brand? What are the attributes of the artist? What is the subject matter of their songs? Determine which elements align, and which do not. The fit should be as natural and organic as possible. The story should not feel forced. If there are any showstoppers, the artist can be easily removed from consideration, if there are elements that are not detrimental to your brand, but not necessarily aligned, that’s OK. A perfect match is extremely rare. If you can get a 70% alignment, you’re doing very well.

Reach and Star Power: What is Marketing Evaluation’s Q Score for the artist? What is the magnitude of the artists tour? How are recent music sales? How active is their fan base? All of these factors can be used to determine the opportunity of your brand along with the artist to make an impact on your target audiences.

Artist and Agent Flexibility: Is there an opportunity for your brand to truly leverage the artist as a brand advocate? Can you negotiate the right deal points to activate your sponsorship? Often the more prominent the artist, the less flexibility you have. Less prominent artists may entertain more options and view the relationship with your brand as more of a partnership where there is a mutual exchange of value. Marketers have a balancing act here, and finding the right balance can make or break the success of your sponsorship.

Cost: This is a huge factor. Even with the largest investment, many ‘A’ list artists will make more money selling merchandise during a few concerts, than you have to provide in sponsorship dollars for an entire program. Keep this in mind when trying to negotiate deal points with each artist and understand every request and every negotiated point is significant. Prioritize the elements which are critical to the success of your program and ensure these are included in the deal.

Burt Helm and Ronald Grover write in their post, BTW Celebrity Endorsers Have to Work Harder “With marketers trying to squeeze more out of every dollar, celebrity endorsers are being asked to do more than just pose beside a product.” These are interesting times in the music industry and brands offer a compelling solution to artists who are looking to reach broader audiences, sell more music or loosen the grasp of labels on the industry and their income. Whether its a presenting sponsorship deal, an endorsement or secondary sponsorship, brands can do well if they take a strategic approach to their entertainment marketing program. Remember entertainment marketing is not just about the music, its about the marketing. Identifying and exploiting an organic fit between your brand and an artist is no easy task. If done well, it can foster a mutually beneficial partnership and relationship that can drive demonstrable business success for both artist and brand alike and add value to your audiences.

Originally published on AMA Boston Blog, September 15, 2009.

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