The Timeless Tradition of Matching Artist and Brand

Black car, thumping beat, and a resurgent Chrysler rides through town. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” carries the narrative, as I find myself believing in Detroit. It was a brilliant composition of artist, music, and brand. Interesting, made the point, and it fit the brand.

From the jingle to the endorsement, the marriage of artist and marketing has always been about the right match. When that marriage works, it can become difficult to tell the brand from the art. When it doesn’t, artist and brand both lose.

At times the music itself is all the endorsement you need. That said, the presence of the artist speaks volumes. The artist in the ad is good. The artist with music in the ad is better. The artist as creative director.

Getting it right is easier said than done. Sometimes it’s an obvious choice. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith. The ideal approach is a mix of both imagination and doing your homework. Those who are the best at this feel for a fit, but they also sprinkle in a touch of data to help advance the matchmaking process. For example according to The NPD Group’s “BrandLink℠ Study,” Barbra Streisand fans are twice as likely to shop at Bed Bath and Beyond. How many Streisand fans are there? The survey, literally, says: “a lot.”

Do you want to grow? Partnering with a music artist includes taking a risk. A measured risk, of course. The “BrandLink℠ Study” tells us that Swedish House Mafia enthusiasts are major Bloomingdales shoppers. Consider the possibilities: Alabama Shakes aligned with Ikea; Diddy and Dove, Ben & Jerry’s partnering with Fun. Fans of these musicians are considerably more likely to shop there, use this, and eat that. Some choices may be “out there,” but the possibility of grabbing breakthrough and making the emotional connection is worth it. Don’t be too safe.

Now hold on a moment. You’ve been introduced. If you’re going to work with an artist, you should also get to know his or her friends. When we say Drake fans are a lot more likely to work out at Bally Total Fitness, we’re also saying that 60 percent of his fans are women. Surprise, thirty-six percent of “Beliebers” are over age 35. Are you curious about the 54 percent of female Eminem fans? They tend to shop at Forever 21 and Clare’s Boutique.

The bottom line is that partnering with a music artist can be a huge boon for a brand. It can help you expand or too often contract. There are a lot of combinations to consider, but before you develop the creative, get to know each other better.

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