Many years ago, Louis Banks created a four-note jingle for Britannia and ‘ting ting ti-ting’ became an inimitable part of the food major’s brand identity. Cut to 2021, brands are still looking for the perfect notes and the perfect voice; just that their acoustic identity is not restricted to jingles anymore. Music has become a part of the marketing strategy for legacy and new-age brands in India.
Brands across categories like automobiles, electronics, gaming, and esports are signing up music labels, independent composers, and singers to create original music that resonates with their target audience. According to marketers, music is being used to boost engagements and drive growth in reach and access amongst millennials and Gen Z.
Individual original tracks, music albums, music events and even NFT (non-fungible token) series are being created by brands to add to their marketing tool kit.
Gaining cultural cachet through music
N Chandramouli—CEO at brand intelligence and data insights company, TRA Research—says brands are done creating a visual image for themselves. “Creating a MOGO is working better for brand recollection these days. The collaborations with music is a newish communication channel parallel to advertising. While advertising is direct, brands are working with music to be subtle about their messaging and yet create a desire for the brand.”
Just last week, Hyundai announced the launch of 'Hyundai Spotlight' in collaboration with Universal Music India. Hyundai Spotlight is a platform for budding artists across India to showcase their talent. This platform will feature six original songs in its first year with multiple surround content programmed to represent different regions and languages across India.
A similar long-running successful brand-led music platform is Coke Studio, which was created in 2008 by Nadeem Zaman, marketing head at The Coca-Cola Company, in Pakistan. Today Coke Studio is an international franchise.
For Tarun Garg, Director (Sales, Marketing and Service) at Hyundai India, the music platform initiative is a way to reaffirm the brand thought —Beyond Mobility.
Explaining how the collaboration works for them, Garg says, “A significant part of Hyundai’s consumer base is millennials and Gen Z, and the profiles keep getting younger by the day and music is a favourite category in the age group."
Spotlight will help and empower budding music talent across the country; strengthen the connection between Hyundai and innovators of art, and create a tangible association with our customers, he adds.
The power of music
According to Devraj Sanyal, MD and CEO of UMG, India & South Asia, the total addressable population between UMG and Hyundai is common. Hence it helps both parties in the collaboration. “It helps us to discover talent with Hyundai’s network and marketing power and it helps it in giving their customers what they love, which is music.”
Hyundai, however, is not the first brand Sanyal has worked with. UMG (Universal Music Group) has had multiple strategic partnerships with brands to create original soundtracks for them. Two recent partnerships were with popular gaming brand Garena Free Fire and Free Fire City Open Championship in India.
Brands, music and NFTs
Gaming and esports are also taking the musical route to reach out to their customers. Digital entertainment and tech firm JetSynthesys recently partnered with Sonu Nigam to launch the Indian music industry's first-ever NFT series.
Rajan Navani, vice chairman & managing director, JetSynthesys says, “With tokenisation of digital art becoming a global phenomenon, especially in gaming and global pop culture, including global music, Indian music couldn't stay far behind. As enablers of the project, we are looking forward to catering to the diaspora globally and the Indian music fans back home.”
More than that, Navani believes the overlap between the audience in gaming and music is the game-changer. According to him, the NFT will create personalisation, connect and engagement, increasing the value proposition for the brand.
Evolving sonic strategies
The idea of brands using music to reach out to audiences is not new, says music director, singer, lyricist Amit Trivedi. What has changed, according to him, is creating personalised, region-specific stories through music.
Trivedi says, “Brands roping in musicians or singers to create brand-specific music is becoming more common. This helps brands reach a much larger audience. The ability to create regional sentiments yet create powerful narratives is what musicians can do combining entertainment and stickiness.”
Trivedi’s team is in conversation with a host of brands for collaborations. “The market is only opening up since social media, music, Spotify, etc, now help in reaching consumers without needing the conventional faces,” he says. Trivedi is currently working with Skoda on a project called Škoda Sonic Roots.
The project is a collaboration between AT Azaad (Trivedi’s music label), The Back Benchers Company and ŠKODA Auto India, and will have Trivedi travel across India to connect with earthy Indian voices, traditions and stories to create new songs.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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