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More than a hit logo

More than a logo

Colm O Riagain

Music sponsorship in Ireland is on its way to saturation point as more and more brands create through-the-line campaigns that aim to hit the right note with consumers. But as brands rush to get in, they are getting involved with activities, largely sponsorships, that fail to capture their brand values and as a result consumers are not getting a valued experience and the brand often wastes its investment.

Part of the problem is that some music marketing campaigns do not fit with or are not relevant to consumers' lives and brands fail to achieve an authentic and credible link.  Brands need to understand that fans want an added value experience and any association needs to have a proper strategy that starts from the grassroots up.

Consumers, now more than ever, are aware of companies trying to get their attention through music in a bid to get them "on-side", brands must give consumers  ‘added value' - often in the manifestation of  something they cannot get elsewhere.    

A survey by UK agency, Entertainment Media Research, highlighted this issue.  When consumers were asked their opinion about brands working in the music space, 82 per cent of those surveyed said that there were few brands interested in music and the rest are just jumping on the bandwagon. As many as 86 per cent thought brands needed to do a lot more than logo placement to gain their respect.

More importantly for bands (not brands), 75 per cent thought that bands sell out too easily to brand sponsorship deals. These figures mirror the results from a recent straw poll conducted by Slattery Communications in the Irish market. Our clients include Nokia and Edward Dillon drinks brands Bacardi, Jack Daniel's and Hennessy.

The results highlight the need to get it right, to generate awareness and to ensure there is an emotional relationship between the brand and the consumer. Music is not a quick fix for brands. Those interested in marketing through music must have a long-term strategy in place and they need to ensure that their association is a collusion of brand, brand experience and interactivity that fits with music and the marketer's objectives.

More crucially, big brands should not settle for a trite association; they need to be a conduit and if the concept is not working really well after say three years, the likelihood is it never will. In other words, it is time to consider pulling the plug. 

Take a look at mobile phone operator 02. In a brave move last year, it opened its own music venue, transforming the much-maligned Millennium Dome in London's Docklands to The O2, a state of the art music venue with a 23,000 capacity.

When it was planning its involvement, O2 knew that it would be much more than a branding exercise and it pushed itself into unfamiliar territory. It was forced to look at O2's values and consider what kind of a space it would like to design.

Costing about £6 million a year, its success needed to rest on something stronger than a vision. Combined with the brand's other UK music sponsorships, including its Undiscovered competition and O2 Wireless festivals, the venture was proof positive that 02 was on its way to becoming a relevant  player in music sponsorship.

Reaching Out


Fans salute the Super Furry Animals performing at the first Bacardi-sponsored Lovebox festival in Malahide Castle. Developing links between marketing and the music industry is key in a market becoming overwhelmed with brands competing for attention. This summer's line-up of concerts in Ireland may tell all.


It is not all fantasy budget stuff. A less flamboyant example of a brand which is making a mark in music is Bacardi, which has been seen as a pioneer in experiential marketing, entering the music arena when brands traditionally flocked to major sport events to generate awareness and brand association. 

Bacardi B-Live has spent over ten years at music festivals in these islands, combining music, drinks and a production that gives consumers a unique experience and more importantly for Bacardi, a chance to expose the brand to music fans.

For every successful brand out there, there are numerous examples of ones that fail to hit the right note. Brands that have moved in and out of music, wasted their budgets and damaged their values because they have not achieved a successful link.

But it is fair to say that the Irish music scene would not be as vibrant today without marketing involvement. Brands have become part of the music industry and music marketing is a proven way for brands to engage with their target audience.

Colm Ó Riagáin is a music specialist with Slattery Communications 

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