Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Surprise! Your Favorite Summer Jam Is Really About Chewing Gum

Wrigley's 'Seeds' Chris Brown Track for Later Jingle Campaign

Chris Brown
Photo illustration: Charlie Moran
A story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal went behind the scenes on a story first featured in Billboard a couple of weeks back about rapper Ne-Yo, R&B performer Chris Brown and country singer Julianne Hough (a professional contestant on "Dancing With the Stars"), who have all reworked classic Wrigley's jingles for a new campaign. Ne-Yo will rap about Big Red with a reworked "Kiss a little longer" jingle, and Hough has recorded a "twangy" version of Juicy Fruit's "The taste is gonna move ya," but Brown's contribution almost works in reverse.

Last year, after reportedly writing the new Doublemint jingle in 30 minutes, Brown and producer Polow Da Don expanded it to a full-length song and "seeded" it as a single called "Forever," well before the campaign was announced. It was included in his 2007 album "Exclusive," which was re-released last month, and the song shot to the top of the Billboard 100. Only now has Wrigley come out and revealed the intent and funding of the track, whose subtle references to the classic Doublemint jingle ("double your pleasure / double your fun") will be emphasized in an upcoming TV spot.

The deal was put together by Interpublic's Translation Advertising, who commented, "By the time the new jingle came out, it was already seeded properly within popular culture."

While hip-hop artists have plugged into virtually every high-end brand from Cartier to Versace in their song lyrics, this is the first time (to our knowledge) that a branded song like this has been delivered to the public in such a covert fashion. It was well-executed, but we don't necessarily see this as the start of a big new trend. Luckily for Wrigley, the song is a hit, but a feeling of deception may leave a bad taste in some consumers' mouths.

Full disclosure: SFS would have picked t.A.T.u. and dressed them up as the Doublemint twins.

Here's the full song:

Will Live Nation Get a Nickelback From Their New Signee?

Concert Promoter Adds Another Big Act to Its 360 Roster

The Live Nation 360 train continues full-steam ahead with the tour promotion company now finalizing a major deal with Canadian rockers Nickelback. This latest move, which comes less than a week after the company announced a 360 deal with Latin superstar Shakira, is, according to various media reports, a three-album, three-tour deal encompassing multiple revenue streams, including merchandising, live, album, endorsement, secondary ticketing and DVD sales. It's said to be worth between $50 and $70 million.

The post-grunge band, fronted by Chad Kroeger, has sold over 26 million albums and still has two albums left to release through its current label, Warner Music's Road Runner Records, before it can record any albums for Live Nation.

UPDATE: Wall Street doesn't like Shakira, but does like Nickelback. Draw your own conclusions about the dubious musical tastes of stock traders.

According to the promoter, Nickelback's last North American and Australian tour in 2006-07 made more than $67 million. The band will join a growing superstar roster at Live Nation that, in addition to Shakira, also includes Madonna, Jay-Z and an extended relationship with U2.

As we've reported before, Live Nation has been pursuing an aggressive strategy of signing major artists to these types of deals, which has led to some discord among the senior ranks of the company. Chairman Michael Cohl resigned recently after disagreements with CEO Michael Rapino, who wanted to slow the pace of new signings.

If this is a slower pace, I can't wait to see what Live Nation will do when they decide to speed things up.

Live Nation Seeks to Reassure

With Shakira 360 Deal

Latin Pop Star Signs 10-Year Contract Estimated at $70-100 Million

According to The New York Post and the LA Times, Live Nation has signed a $70 million to $100 million "360" deal with Latin superstar Shakira. Once the deal begins, Live Nation will receive revenue from her concerts, recordings, merchandising, digital and other aspects of her career for 10 years.

The concert promoter has been pursuing an aggressive strategy of signing major artists to these types of deals, whereby the company receives a stake in all of an artist's revenue streams. Last year, LN signed a reported $120 million deal with Madonna, a reported $150 million deal with Jay-Z, and, this year, it completed a major deal with U2.

This latest signing comes on the heels of Live Nation Chairman Michael Cohl's resignation last week after an apparent dispute with CEO Michael Rapino over the speed and aggressiveness of pursuing these 360 deals. Cohl was a proponent of upping the intensity of the signings, with the Rolling Stones rumored to be his latest goal.

According to the New York Post, Live Nation and Shakira have been in talks for about 10 months, but sources said that after last week's negative press from the resignation, Rapino wanted to quickly finalize the deal in order to reassure employees the he was committed to the 360 strategy of the Artist Nation division.

Shakira still owes SonyBMG's Epic Records another English-language studio album, expected next spring, as well as a greatest-hits compilation. This means Shakira likely won't deliver her first album to Live Nation until late 2009 or early 2010, at the earliest. Prior contract commitments mean Madonna and Jay-Z are not expected to release Live Nation albums until then, either.

Pantene Lets Its Hair Down, Picks Unknown Singer-Songwriter for Spot

P&G Brand Releases Digital Single of 'Shine' Concurrent With Commercial

This week, Procter & Gamble's Pantene shampoo released two commercials created by Grey Advertising that featured original music sourced from a user-generated contest held earlier this year at the MIDEM conference in Cannes.

The competition, which was overseen by Grey's director of music, Josh Rabinowitz, stipulated the following entry criteria for the winning song: "a main-line, loved-by-all sound; makes women feel strong and empowered; immediately branded but never a jingle; works as an instrumental in varying lengths and formats; creatively interprets the brand message of 'shine' and 'let the best of you shine through.'"

Both spots are set to use the winner, the original song "Shine," co-written by Rosi Golan and Human, a New York-based music house. Those parties will receive a majority of the income from the song, although, according to Billboard, P&G will retain the publishing and master recording rights. Golan said, "Artists like me who work hard and make very little money, one of the few ways to make money is through touring and iTunes." The song will be sold on Apple's digital music store beginning the same day the spot airs.

While this is being billed as a successful example of "user generated" content for marketing purposes, it's really a better example of an unsigned artist who was used to create a track with both a "cool" factor and the production values of a hit song. Among advertisers, these twin factors are becoming more important.

Apparel Brands Cozy Up to Artists

Three Deals Announced in Recent Weeks

First up, rapper Nas has announced a one-year partnership with Fila whereby the apparel company will offer financial support for his upcoming tour as well as the print and TV campaign for his new album, out July 15. In return, he will wear Fila products and co-create an apparel line that draws from fashions of the late '80s.

At the same time, Soulja Boy has signed a multi-year sneaker and apparel contract with Yums Shoes, which is fast becoming a major force in urban streetwear. There will apparently be an exclusive Soulja Boy-designed range, and the rapper will appear in both television and print advertising for the line as well as five webisodes that will run across the Yums and Soulja Boy websites. Soulja Boy will also be teaming up with graffiti artist and designer Tex to promote his own signature Yums "Block Star" sneakers as well as an apparel line.

Finally, although there aren't very many details yet, Kanye West told Women's Wear Daily that he's working on a men's shoe line with Louis Vuitton. While attending an LV show in Paris recently, he also told the Guardian: "I'm here for Louis. I grew up with the Louis look, you know. I just love the style." He's also expected to unveil his own women's clothing line, independently, this fall. If Carlton Banks in drag is your thing, stay tuned ...

Thanks for the tip, Sasha!

John Oates' Mustache to the Rescue

Hairy Superhero Carries Back Catalog Into the Future

No sooner had we written about the need for artists' back catalogs to be marketed in more creative ways -- via tailored ideas and exploitation strategies -- than Primary Wave Music Publishing announced "J-Stache," a cartoon about John Oates' mustache.

According to Billboard, the formerly mustachioed half of Hall & Oates could appear in a new cartoon series that portrays him as a modern-day family man who finds himself enticed back to the rock-star life by his superhero facial hair.

The series has a twofold objective: to help portray Oates in a new modern-day light while reminding people of the great songs from his back catalog. As Oates says in Billboard: "Just as I'm represented as the John Oates of today, the mustache is the John Oates of yesterday. The focus of the music will be on the back catalog, but it's an open-ended situation."

"J-Stache" is the brainchild of Primary Wave Senior Creative Director Evan Duby, who commented: "I thought to myself that this guy could be a pop icon on a completely different level. I wanted to be part of bringing John Oates to a younger generation." Primary Wave -- which is quickly building a very cool collection of heritage-based music, including the songs of Steven Tyler, Kurt Cobain and Greg Allman -- is currently shopping the Oates concept to the networks.

Music Supervisors Get to Sit at the Adult Table

Ad Festival Season Demonstrates Prominence of Music, Sonic Branding

The advertising festival season -- in full swing for the past two months -- has seen an ever-increasing focus on music, says Josh Rabinowitz of Grey Group.

In a recent Billboard piece [sub. required], the prominent music supervisor highlights the importance of music at all the leading awards shows, ranging from The Clios to the Cannes Lions and all the shows in between, such as the AICP, the One Show, the Bessies, the 2008 AICE Awards Show, the Fab Awards and the ADDY Awards. In his column, Rabinowitz says these shows not only give awards to music-led creative, but they are also popular places for advertisers to discover new sounds.

This theme was echoed in USA Today, which last week reported from the Cannes Lions with a feature titled "Jingles out, cool songs in," which highlighted the importance of advertising to music publishers, labels and songwriters alike, and how music business executives were in attendance at the festival looking to drum up more business. The report went on to say: "Advertisers' appetite for hit music in ads, or songs composed to sound like hits, has largely sent the old hard-sell jingles, with campy music and product lyrics, the way of vinyl LPs."

This is leading to much higher levels of sophistication in the music selection process, with clients increasingly seeking to develop "sonic branding" guidelines that take on the same importance as brand identity and developing music strategies that drive how they leverage music in all forms of communication.

Beatles to Join Licensing Gold Rush?

Financial Times: Fab Four-Themed Video Game in the Works

Guitar Hero
A report in the Financial Times suggests that representatives from (the Beatles') Apple Corps are in talks with both Activision and MTV Games, the companies behind the highly successful "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" games, respectively.

Whilst the notion of a Beatles video game is interesting in its own right, the report also suggests that this could be the precursor to a broader licensing of The Fab Four's back catalog for more commercial opportunities. Martin Bandier, chief executive of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls more than 200 Beatles copyrights, told the FT: "To my view, it's only a matter of time before we see Beatles songs that are the original recordings in motion pictures, in television work, and yes, maybe even one day in a commercial."

SFS thinks that this is exciting news and further adds to the notion that we've been pushing in recent posts and on conference platforms, that music-brand partnerships are going to develop into a major part of the fabric of the music business going forward. Our post on Led Zeppelin/"Stairway" earlier this week pointed out that not only does a broader approach to licensing tap into rich and growing revenue streams but also gives some of the "oldies" an opportunity to introduce their music to a younger audience.

It's great to see music licensing grow, but the licensing of songs is almost always a reactive business. There must be dozens of songs from our heritage artists that are not "sweated" as hard as they could be, and they could benefit from their own tailored marketing plans to help attract more interest from brands.