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The Influencers
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How Will the New Cannes Lions Categories Look?

Tracks & Fields, 6 months, 3 weeks ago

INFLUENCER: Tracks and Fields' Bryonie Carolan takes a look at Cannes 2016's new music categories

How Will the New Cannes Lions Categories Look?

Just last month entries opened for Cannes Lions 2016. Renowned as the festival for international creativity and advertising, this year’s awards see the introduction of brand new categories and awards, including categories: ‘Digital Craft Lions’, a revamped branded content category under the name of the ‘Entertainment Lions’, and a separate ‘Entertainment Lions for Music’.

With music now taking on a stronger presence in the ceremony, we at Tracks & Fields wanted to propose examples of how the new awards categories might look like in practice.

Best Music/Brand Partnership 

For this new award, the Cannes Lions are taking notice of musicians as influencers and awarding the best combination of musical endorsement and brand partnership.

The distinction for this category appears to be the use of music with brand identity.

How does this category look in reality? One of the clearest campaigns of music and brand fusion last year was Katy Perry and H&M’s Christmas campaign, which included an advert in the style of a music video, and billboard posters. The music, which features prominent lyrics about holidays, was written for the advert and perfectly fits with the brand’s holiday themed fashion collection. 

Another example of how music and brand partnership is working well together is the more wholesome holiday advert from Apple, which features singers Stevie Wonder and Andra Day. In this holiday spot, Apple comes across as a warm family-orientated brand, with a family singing around the piano and children decorating the Christmas tree.

Use of An Artist as a Spokesperson/Ambassador in Partnership with a Brand

In a similar style to ‘Best Music/Brand Partnership’, this award also praises musical endorsements. However, instead of portraying the brand through creating original music or starring in adverts, this award is for artists who use their networks and their personality to improve the ‘credibility’ of a brand.

For an example of where this category might look for inspiration, the partnership of Rihanna and fashion house Dior can offer a great example of how an artist has worked successfully with a brand.

This year the Barbadian singer-songwriter became the new face of Dior, making history for the brand, by becoming the brand’s first black woman to star as an ambassador. Speaking to Luxury Daily, Cenon Advincula, creative director at Walton Isaacson, hinted that Rihanna’s presence made the brand feel more inclusive. He told the website:  “Women of colour, especially black women, continue to be woefully underrepresented in the modelling business and the fashion industry in general. With this move, women and girls of colour can look at this campaign and feel that the brand truly ‘gets; them.”

Notably, the decision to partner with Rihanna, who predominantly attracts a younger and more social media savvy audience, marks the beginning of a modernising image for the fashion brand. Just one example of Rihanna’s modern influence on the brand is the decision to let the artist share the announcement of her Dior partnership via photos posted to her Instagram account.

Artist Event Appearance or Performance in Partnership with a Brand

In this category a stress is placed on artists performing at branded events, whether they are streamed online, for one-off exhibitions or part of a sport event.

With many examples to choose from, Gwen Stefani’s historic performance at this year’s Grammys provides a clear case for how the Lions’ vision of a brand and artist performance category might look.

The 58th Grammy Awards in February 2016 saw Gwen Stefani partner with retailer Target for an exclusive live music video of her new song ‘Make Me Like You’. The music video, which was filmed and broadcast during the commercial break of the awards, is reported to have cost $12 million for Target.

The video, thought to be the first live music video filmed on television, was a tremendous success for both Target and Gwen Stefani, and pre-sales of Gwen Stefani’s new album at Target are already surpassing her label Interscope’s expectations. It also boosted Target’s social output, with the brand’s Facebook Live Campaign hitting over 3 billion media impressions and counting, according to Target’s marketing chief officer Jeff Jones.

Music Video – Brand and/or Product Integration

This award is all about product and brand endorsement in a music video, which could be anything from an artist using a certain brand’s phone during a music video to drinking a branded soft drink.

With the buzz around virtual reality (VR) ever increasing, one campaign between the Grammys and Oscar-nominated singer The Weeknd and GoPro cameras stood out last year for us and fits the category’s description perfectly.

The music video, a remix of The Weeknd’s ‘The Hills’ featuring Eminem, is shot entirely on a GoPro camera, promoting the product from the forefront. The virtual reality experience is also brought to audiences with a further partnership with United Realities, who created the apocalyptic world seen in the video. Finally, as the icing on the cake, the video is interactive and Google Chrome users can move the video around using GoPro’s spherical content feature.

We reckon that a music video in this style hits all the right buttons for a technologically forward-thinking Lions this year, which has also introduced a new ‘Digital Craft’ category. Not only does it contain a widely successful artist, whose debut album was named Spotify’s most streamed album of 2016 with over 60 million listeners, but it also makes use of innovative technology and user interaction. 

In a more recent example of the kind of music videos the Lions had in mind with this new category, OK Go’s latest video provides a great example. The band, known for their choreographed viral music videos, made headlines when they filmed their latest video in zero-gravity and partnered up with Russian commercial airlines S7 Airlines.

The music video for ‘Upside Down & Inside Out’, which was shot in a single take on board a parabolic flight outside of Moscow, Russia, had the band prepare for 3 weeks in advance with Roscosmos, Russia’s Space Agency.

Not just making headlines for their creative music video, OK Go also made the news when they chose to upload the video exclusively on Facebook. Purposely choosing not to use the video-hosting platform, YouTube, the band also teamed up with Facebook in what adland suspected was a promotion of the social network’s increasing advertising revenue for video content creators. The music video currently has just under 50 million views on Facebook. 

Excellence in Trailer/Teaser Campaign

A clear sign of the Cannes Lions’ new musical direction and recognition for artists as influencers, this award does not look at brand partnerships but instead focuses on artists themselves as brands, through their own self-promotion in music video trailers. To be nominated for this award, a music trailer needs to provoke a clear call to action to audiences.

While it may seem that a trailer to a music video would not be anything special and worthy of awarding, the marketing strategy to promote artist Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ music video set the bar pretty high and can demonstrate the kind of high standard that exemplifies this award in practice.

Starting with the release of posters and photos from the video across her own social media accounts 10 days before the premiere, Swift then went onto create further buzz by enlisting Hollywood actresses, super models and fellow singers starring in her ‘Sin City’ style video to then promote their own participation across their social media channels; the call to action being to tune into the Billboard Music Awards to see the premiere of the video. Swift’s teaser was incredibly effective in reaching audiences who were not fans of Swift and were unlikely to watch the video. Instead fans of TV shows such as ‘Girls’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, whose lead actresses starred in Swift’s video, were tempted into watching a music video for an artist they didn’t listen to. 

Use of Social/Digital Platform

This award also looks at brand and artist partnership, but hints to Cannes Lions’ new digital direction by awarding social media websites and other digital platforms that work with artists. This does not mean a brand’s social media account utilising a celebrity endorsement, but instead social and digital platforms such as Twitter or Facebook partnering up with an artist to engage a certain audience.

For a clear and successful audience engagement campaign last year, the digital platform’s partnership with Macklemore is a good example of how the category might work.

Wix offers easy-to-use website building for absolutely anyone, whether a business or a photographer. The aim is to make website building as simple as possible. For their newest venture, Wix Music, Wix wants to make it easier for musicians to manage and create their own websites. In order to get their message across to musicians and other artists, Wix enlisted Macklemore to help promote them across social media on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and on their own platform at Wix Music.

What made this campaign so special? In terms of engaging a certain audience, up-and-coming bands, Wix offers them simple solutions to promote and maintain their brand. But the audience can also draw inspiration from Macklemore, who gained success without major record label support. Together the partnership works very well in engaging artists who are inspired by Macklemore’s success story.

Use of Licensed Music for a Brand Campaign:

This award is for the licensing of music in a branded placement and does not have to be created for a brand, but can be judged in terms of its suitability to a brand’s message.

Last year was a great year for licensed music in adverts, and for our example of how this category might be thought out, we found one brand’s use of music particularly memorable. In a campaign for John Lewis’ home insurance, one little girl embodies Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ and wreaks havoc on her family’s house. The sync-licensed music makes the advert, without Elton John’s song and lyrics the story would just not be the same. 

While we know how the new categories might look like in practice, we’ll be looking forward to seeing how the Lions will decide on the new category of music and branded content at the ceremony in June.

Bryonie Carolan is PR and Social Media Manager at Tracks and Fields