Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge reports on today’s interview session with David Jones of Havas Worldwide and Euro RSCG Worldwide…
What’s happening with brands and music? David Jones should know, as one of the most powerful advertising industry executives in the world – with Euro RSCG even having bought a record label – The Hours – to be its in-house label. Billboard’s Bill Werde interviewed Jones for a headline session today.
Why launch a label? Jones said there are parallels between the recent struggles of the music industry and the advertising industry – for CDs, read 30-second TV ads as a once-sure-bet that now isn’t. “I view us as being in the content world, and this [the label]is an extension of that,” he explained.
The label was launched in 2008, so has it met Jones’ expectations? “I didn’t expect how excited our clients would be,” he said. “Clients today are even more interested in the opportunity that music provides in the marketing space.”
However, he admits the main goal of the record label is “not to lose money” – the money comes more from what he described as the ‘music ideas’ side of the business.
One example from its French agency is an ad for Evian, which has been watched more than 95 million times online according to Jones:
He said the starting point for the ad was actually the Rapper’s Delight remix, rather than the usual ad agency model of making the ad then looking for a song. It’s now the most downloaded piece of commercial content in history, said Jones.
“It’s the power of social media. To get that level of views in the traditional world, we would have had to have spent 100 or even 200 times what we spent on the YouTube campaign,” he said.
Werde asked Jones if he had any advice for record labels who are grappling with the changes in the industry. While stressing that he’s not an expert on music, “I am an expert in marketing”: he said that too often “you still see the big deal where a brand writes a big cheque for a big artist… but it’s important to look for something that’s genuine and authentic and a good fit.”
Jones came back to the idea of the music being the starting point for ads, but Werde pointed out that labels often complain the opposite is still the case – ad agencies come looking for a song when they’ve already made the ad.
“Integrated on every level is critical,” said Jones. “Digital has fundamentally changed the way we market, it’s touching every area of the business. And music can fit with every one of those levels.”
What about ad-supported music – is that a viable business, and does it excite Jones’ clients? “No one’s actually figured it out,” he said, talking about social media business models. “But I don’t believe the interruption models will work. The models about ‘if you watch our commercial, we’ll give you music for free’ will fail. That’s the model from thirty years ago… Today you’re in an engagement model.”
However, he pointed back to the Evian campaign being an “unbelievable social media phenomenon” – so music companies should be looking to help brands have that kind of impact instead.
Jones did say that traditional advertising isn’t dead, citing the deal Dockers has done with Shazam around its upcoming Superbowl ad, to include interactive elements for a big-budget TV ad.
What are the big opportunities for labels and publishers when it comes to brands right now? Jones made the observation that “there are some incredible ways of making money in the digital world through music that are not necessarily record sales”. In other words, harnessing the social media world to sell stuff that isn’t the music itself.
He talked about other music-led campaigns, such as Ben & Jerry’s free festivals in the UK, and Motorola getting fans to download and share content while at a gig in New York. And also Carling’s Cold Beer Amnesty campaign at festivals, letting people swap their warm beers for cool ones on-site.
A question from the audience focused on why an ad agency needs a label in-house. “The answer is you don’t have to,” said Jones, saying it was about working more deeply on a strategic level. “The world is blurring – we play today in the content world rather than the advertising world.”
However, he stressed that the label has increased its revenues 300% since being bought by Euro RSCG, but said the company doesn’t have an ambitions to make it too big. “We want to be an indie label, not a major…”