Music Dealers

Music Branding News Dump
April 2, 2009, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s a round-up of some of the more interesting latest happenings and goings-ons from the world of band/brand alliances.

  • Puma has licensed Magnetic Field’s song, “Underwear,” for use in a new TV spot.  Though the lyrics make it a peculiar choice to sell shoes, the music definitely sets the right tone and mood for this bizarre ad.  And this isn’t the first time Fields founder/leader Stephin Merrit has licensed a song for a commercial, as he previously let their  “Wheels On the Car” track be used in a Wrigley spot.  Merrit definitely understands the value of advertising as a platform to get his indy band’s music heard.  And here, he even got in a commercial that has the softest sell I’ve ever seen, and is actually more like a music video.


  • On the other end of the spectrum, Grammy-winning pop singer, Duffy, has sworn off appearing in ads following some controversy surrounding her appearance in a Diet Coke spot…because she rode a bike at night without a helmet or reflectors.  Seriously.  Unlike Magnetic Fields, Duffy isn’t in need of the same type of exposure – right now, anyway –  which allows her to make claims such as “I only have 100 percent to give and all of that goes towards being creative” and thus, we won’t be seeing her in any commercials any more.  Not sure if that’s a promise or a threat, but I think we’ll all survive without more Duffy during our commercial breaks.

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  • Following Visa’s use of the Smashing Pumpkins “Today”  in a commercial (previously discussed here)  they have now gone with Moody Blues classic “Tuesday Afternoon” in a new spot.  Though the song fits the story of the ad, this one seems more like a case of a baby boomer senior exec who attended the original Woodstock wanting to squeeze one of his favorite oldies into one of his company’s spots. But it could be worse I guess.  The song does give this tired Visa campaign a little juice.  And it’s better than hearing boomer standards like “Born to be Wild” or “Sweet Home Alabama” again.


  • For Pink Floyd fans in the eastern hemisphere, comes the Pink Floyd Converse sneaker below.   You can see Converse went with the “Dark Side of the Moon” theme.  Not too bad I guess.  But only available in south east Asia for now.  Of course.  When I think of Pink Floyd fans, I immediately think of Asia.

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  • And finally, we previously discussed the partnership that Kohl’s/Candies entered with Britney Spears here.  Well, the first print ads from the partnership were released today, including the below pic.  Sure, this is photo-shopped and air-brushed to the max.  But I don’t care.  This is the best use of integrating music into a brand that I’ve seen in awhile.

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Geico Dusts off 80s Classic for New Campaign
March 27, 2009, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By now, you’ve seen Geico’s latest campaign that features the wad of cash with eyeballs and the 80s hit, “Somebody’s Watchin Me.”  Geico’s CEO recently sat down with Brandweek to discuss the background of this campaign, including the selection of this song.  


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This is just the latest of the bizarre yet original Geico advertising mascots, following the talking gecko and sensitive cavemen.  And this one is getting equal buzz in large part because of the resurrection of this lost 80s track from one-hit wonder, Rockwell.  As Geico’s CEO affirms, “the song is usually the toughest part” of a TV spot’s creation, but “This one came right out of the shoot.  It was spot on.”
I don’t know about it being “spot on,” but it definitely makes these spots (6 in total) memorable and break-through….as if the cash with the eyeballs weren’t enough.
Geico is also offering a free download of the re-mixed “Somebody’s Watching Me” that they use in the TV spots on their website.  This mix was done by Mysto & Pizzi, who according to the site, are “up and coming producers” from Queens that “are quickly establishing a name for themselves in the world of Pop and R&B,” and have worked with R. Kelly, Kelly Rowand, Justin Timberlake, and Ciarra.  You can download the song and read more about it at – 
I don’t know why they had the song re-mixed in the first place, as the 1984 version would’ve worked just fine.  But I guess it made them feel like they were putting a more modern spin on the 25 year old song.  You can hear the original version in the below video, which is vintage 80’s videos at its finest.    
Naturally this song would be used to sell car insurance twenty-five years later.  And if that doesn’t make you paranoid about taking a shower in a pink tub, then nothing will.  

Band Changes Song Based on Brand’s Feedback
March 25, 2009, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s a new one – and an example of just how far bands are willing to go to partner with brands.  Alt-rock band, Parachute, took some creative direction on one of their songs from personal care company, Nivea, and adapted it accordingly so that they would use it in a commercial.

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Although the acceptance of bands linking up with brands has come light years since the days it was deemed to be “selling out,” this one will certainly still raise some eyebrows.  This is not a case of a band simply letting a brand use one of their songs for commercial purposes.  Or even a band writing a song specifically for a brand.  This is a band changing an already written and produced song based on feedback from a brand’s marketing department so that it can be used commercially.  And for women’s body lotion nonetheless.

The success for the brand and band is equally startling.  Nivea’s sales increased between 15% and 18% (depending on product) when the spot aired, while the song was purchased and downloaded more than 20,000 times during the same period.  The two will soon extend their alliance as Nivea will use Parachute’s second single in their next TV ad, and they’ve negotiated a deal with Target where consumers will get a dollar off every Nivea product when they purchase the Parachute album and a dollar off the Parachute album when they buy any Nivea product.

Parachute rubs on some Nivea smooth sensation body lotion before they rock outl_899df3bd7a8a48f394ca88c2cadc6c20

I think the coupon idea is brilliant and representative of innovative thinking between band and brand that benefits both parties – and the consumer.  But I’m a little weary on changing a song based on the direction from a brand.  This even bothers me more than writing a song directly for a brand.  At least there’s no hidden motives there and it’s all transparent.  But taking something sacred you supposedly created based on your own inspiration and which has some type of emotional connection, and then manipulating it based on feedback from a brand so that they can use it for a commercial seems like it may cross a line….at least for real bands like this one who write their own music.  And it seems to give brands some dangerous power.

But if a band is fighting for survival and this is what they have to do, then I can’t argue with it.  And as the article points out, “the success of Parachute’s deal may mean that retrofitting pop tunes for TV spots may soon be replaced by even greater collaboration than beforehand.”  So, we’re likely to see more of this.  Which is better than retreading classic rock songs or dated artists in commercials I guess.   But not quite as entertaining as this Hispanic Nivea spot.

If they’re going to make bands change their songs for them, can’t we at least get some more Gisele rubbing lotion on herself?

Music Dealers @ SXSW
March 20, 2009, 3:12 pm
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“Gomez Well Understands the Impact Song Placement Delivers Today”
March 20, 2009, 3:10 pm
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With SXSW currently in full swing and our Music Dealers team down there right now, thought it would be appropriate to post this interview with British rock band, Gomez, who will be performing at SXSW themselves…and are big fans of music licensing.

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Gomez is a band who understands the value of song placement for artists like themselves. They have no qualms with that space and see it as a viable platform to get their music heard. As they affirm, “The reality is that it does have a lot of impact and it has massive potential. If your’e not played on the radio and you’re not really a commercial band, how in the (expletive) is anybody going to hear your music?”

Gomez has accepted the reality that there aren’t a lot of outlets to get their music heard today and song licensing is no doubt a key reason why they are still a thriving and successful band. Their “greatest marketing tool” has allowed their music to be heard by millions of people who otherwise likely would not have.

Gomez gets how the industry works today. And based on this article, they also like to drink a lot. So, they’ve got the brains and the rock n roll spirit. They’re truly a 21st century band.

Coca-Cola Releases New Single by Super-Group
March 19, 2009, 5:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Coca-Cola Company has partnered with Warner Music Group’s Atlantic Records to produce and release a new song featuring some of the hottest acts from the music world – to be used exclusively for Coke’s marketing efforts.


So, the “Open Happiness” single features Cee-Lo, members of Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Gym Class Heroes, and Janelle Monae – and was produced by Butch Walker and Polow Da Don, who have been responsible for such acts as Usher, Pink, Fergie, Avril Lavigne, and Katy Perry.  It’s truly an all-star cast of today’s pop stars that would seem destined to dominate the pop charts…but that’s all for a soft drink.

The track is airing in a new Coke commercial and is the third installment in their “Happiness Factory” campaign, although the first to feature original music from these artists.  In addition to the spot, consumers can hear the song on Coke’s MySpace page, purchase it on iTunes, and there will be a music video released in May that will feature all the artists.  And Coke is planning to eventually integrate the song into brand marketing efforts on radio and online as well.

It’s pretty obvious why Coke would move forward with such a venture, and easy to see how music can help their own marketing efforts.  As Coke’s global music marketing manager confirms, “Adding a musical element to our popular Happiness Factory franchise in a natural progression to really making it a trans-media property.  We believe through the use of music, we are able to enhance this message and help people to connect and have fun with the campaign.”


Janelle singing for Coke


While it’s a little surprising so many bigger artists signed up for this one-sided of a commercial partnership that doesn’t feature any of their own music, it still could benefit them in the long run by getting some increased exposure.  As Atlantic Records SVP of Brand Partnership and Commercial Licensing affirms, “At Atlantic we strive to create career artists who make music with worldwide resonance.  The pairing of the artists on this song with the Coke brand is a perfect match and we anticipate it being a huge global success.”

It’s not something I’d be interested in, but I see the logic from both parties.  It will be interesting to see how this is received and plays out, as any type of success will no doubt lead many other brands to enlist popular artists to create similar jingles for their marketing.  And it just goes to illustrate how far the music industry has come.  Ten years ago, music fans and the music industry alike would have scoffed and been outraged at such a blatant form of commercialism on the artists part.  But today, all these artists singing a special Coke jingle is being touted as a groundbreaking step for artists.  We’ll see. If nothing else, it definitely beats another Pepsi commercial featuring Justin Timberlake.  Or anything featuring the over-exposed falsetto.

“Today” is Right Time to Sell
March 13, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you’ve seen Visa’s latest spot and are over 21, you should recognize that grungey guitar anthem in the background.  

Yes, Visa has licensed the the Smashing Pumpkins 1994 hit, “Today.”   Even though the uplifting lyrics are only heard at the end, they do offer an appropriate closure to the spot, and the song’s overall tone fits the strategy and execution nicely.  And beyond the story-telling aid, the instant recognition of the song makes it a valuable component for the spot as well.  So, it’s a good choice by Visa.

However, it is slightly startling that Billy Corgan agreed to this.  Sure, the Pumpkin’s frontman is always looking for attention and a way to stay in the public eye and make some extra loot – and artists of all shapes and sizes are licensing their songs for commercial purposes these days.  But given his past public defiance for using “Today” in this manner, it’s surprising he agreed to license this particular song.  In a 2004 Newsweek interview, he said he turned down “heavy, heavy money” to license “Today,” because, as he put it, some things are sacred.  

The record company’s literally begging me: go ahead and take these commercials. At this point in my life, I don’t feel comfortable. Those songs are the reason I’m alive. If your music is not sacred to the point where it’s a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what’s not for sale?  

Guess anything is for sale when you’re no longer relevant.  But Billy is just the latest in a long line of artists who once vehemently opposed allowing their music to be in commercial endeavors, deeming  it as “selling out” – but now see these opportunities for what they are: a viable platform to get their music heard and achieve some exposure amidst a landscape of shrinking outlets that are failing artists.  
So we could cut Billy some slack for his 180.  But he didn’t make those statements back in 1994 when the song was released and the music industry was radically different than it is today.  He said that just five years ago in 2004 when the music industry had already dried up and artists were proactively looking to marketers for exposure.  But I guess like his foray into electronica and the ill-fated Pumpkins reunion, Billy’s just a little a late to the scene again.