Monday, December 5, 2011

Ingrid Michaelson & Old Navy: Music Meets Advertisements

When I think about the incorporation of music into advertisements and the sharp increase of this practice that has occurred in the past few years, I automatically am reminded of the Old Navy ad a few years back that featured Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.” It was the first time, to my recollection, that I found a song that I enjoyed through a means of which I despise: TV commercials. Since then, musicians have continued to license their music for use in various advertisements and the question still remains: why do it?

Keeping the industrialization of culture approach in mind, it is easy to develop a greater understanding of why this practice has been so prominent in the past few years. Commercial mandates and distribution-exhibition practices are two of the elements of this model that seem particularly involved in the example of music incorporation into advertisements. The ultimate goal of advertisements is clear to everybody: to sell products. So why incorporate a cover of a song by Ingrid Michaelson into an advertisement to sell Old Navy sweaters? Firstly, it makes watching commercials more bearable. If people are clearly interested in the song that is playing during this commercial, the image associated with that song will resonate and the commercial will ultimately be a hit. The more air time it receives, the more people will see the commercial, and the more sweaters will sell. Strategically, incorporating music into advertisements is a smart move for companies. It helps to fulfill the commercial mandates set forth by corporations.

On the other hand, distribution-exhibition practices are executed on behalf of the musician: without having to do much work, Ingrid Michaelson’s voice and beat was sold to the majority of the United States. Her song instantly was recognizable once it hit radio stations and that was due in part to the part that Old Navy had played in distributing her music. This model is one that is effective for both the musicians and the advertisers: musicians essentially gain free marketing whereas advertisers are able to capture the audience’s attention through the use of work that is not theirs, but rather something that has been borrowed from somebody else.   

The Connection between Music and Advertising

There have been an overwhelmingly increasing amount of technological advancements within the last 15 to 20 years, and it has caused all sectors of the media industry to adapt to these changing times. Piracy is at an all time high right now, and no one seems to have the right solution for this problem. The music industry has been hit incredibly hard by piracy and is losing tons of money. One way to get back some of this money is through licensing their music through advertisements. Not only do the musicians get some money, but they also get exposure. People watching an advertisement that has a song in the background will likely remember the song along with the advertisements.
I think that association comes into play here, by connecting the song with an advertisement or an advertisement with the song; whenever they see or hear either of them the other one will be associated with it. The advertising industry is also facing a very competitive time, where money is very tight. They have to come up with good advertisements for the product they are working with so that it sticks out from other advertisements. One way to do this is to connect your advertisement with a popular song and artist. The most important issue for both of these media industries is adapting to the technological shifts of the 21st century.

Commercial Mandates and Innovative Distribution for AMC's "The Walking Dead"

The Gateway Film Center in Columbus shows AMC's The Walking Dead on their big screen for a commercial mandate. The three party system of the producer, the advertiser, and the consumer each offer something to another. The producers and the advertisers are giving the content to the consumer for their attentive "eyeballs." The content on the screen is already paid for by the advertiser and by putting it in the movie theater, the advertisers are guaranteed each person watching The Walking Dead to sit through every commercial because they can't change the channel. Even though it won't be recorded by the Nielsen Company, chances are it wasn't going to be recorded by them anyway, since the Nielsen survey size is actually quite small anyway.

Also, AMC's The Walking Dead is played in the theater in Columbus because it is an innovative strategy of distribution. It places the viewer into a movie theater experience which encourages them to watch the programming as well as buy food and beverage from the movie theater. The movie their is providing free admission to the viewers in hope that they buy a ticket to another movie and/or spend their money on popcorn and refreshments. This strategy is a win-win situation for all three party members. The advertisers are getting their guaranteed eyeballs to watch each commercial. The AMC is paid for the content by the advertisers. The consumers are getting their favorite TV content. And the movie theater is reaching viewers and gaining an audience in hope that consumers by other movie tickets and refreshments.

Music in Advertising

Our constantly evolving media driven society is now implementing popular songs into mainstream TV commercials. As we have discusses in class, this is just another example of how different forms of media and technology are overlapping and becoming a part of one another. This not only benefits the product that is being advertised but also the artist featured in the advertisement. The ads become personal and memorable for the audience and therefore they are more prone to remember the song in correlation to the product it is representing. A few examples of popular songs in ads are:

These are ads that I personally have seen, remembered, and wondered: “What is the name of the song from that commercial?” This is exactly the point of this strategy. As a consumer I remembered the product featured in the commercial and downloaded the song featured in the commercial. This is an example of a commercial mandate. The goal of this media is to create profit for the product and the chosen artist. Profit for the product and the artist are interconnected. A popular song from a popular artist is more likely to catch the attention of the audience. Songs are picked specifically depending on the product and the audience in which it is targeting. This also translates into the relationship between economic and technological mandates. In my opinion adding popular songs to commercials is a new development in technology which leads to an increase in economic capital and profit.

Musicians Partnership with Advertisers

There has been a notable increase of musicians licensing their music for use in the advertisement industry. This increase is most prevalent in the daily commercials that we see on TV. For example, Snoop Dog’s music is featured in a Sundrop soda commercial, music from Chris Brown is featured in a Doublemint gum commercial and Rihanna’s music is featured in a Nivea skin care commercial to name a few (click links to view commercials).

The ability for musicians to use their creative works for advertising products allows them to reach a targeted audience, as well as a way of marketing themselves. For example, Nivea is a very popular skin care line and when consumers of Nivea here Rihanna’s music in the background, this might spark their interest in Rihanna’s music. Also anyone who is a fan of Rihanna's that does not use Nivea, will be more likely to buy Nivea products in the future. The musicians work does not only benefit the artist but it also benefits the sales of the product. Implementing music in the backdrop of commercials is a creative way to increase both music and product sales. This creative practice in particular can also have a negative effect on the product. For example, during the Chris Brown and Rihanna scandal, the Doublemint contract with Chris Brown was canceled because of the legal situations. Wrigley’s feared that their product sales would decrease because it was associated with Chris Brown.

Moreover, artist turn to licensing their music for use in the advertisement industry as a new source of profit/ income. The music industry as a whole has taken an economic down fall due to technological advances including the ability to pirate and peer share music. Both the artist and the label are loosing economically thus they are forced to find ways to make profit. In this case they make money from the advertisers. In all the musicians partnership with advertisers has become succesfull.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Partnership Destined for Success

Music is a media industry that has experienced a significant amount of change over the past ten years. With this change has come the creativity of musicians to get their songs out to the public and hope for a large enough ‘buzz’ to generate revenue (the ultimate goal). Thus the economic condition and desire to sell songs has lead musicians to creating partnerships with advertisers. Through licensing music to advertisers, musicians are able to make a profit off select songs and advertisers are able to have a ‘catchy’ tune to help attract viewers to watch their commercial.

This partnership is incredibly useful for both parties and helps with the exhibition and distribution practices for both the advertisers goods and the musician’s music. Especially because with audiences ability to fast forward through commericals, pressure rises for advertisers to create attractive commericals. Popular music helps to catch the attention of the audience. Additionally, the two work together to create a commercial with music appropriate for the target audience/consumer in hopes of both the product and music being purchased. Finally, this partnership helps musicians enter further into the television industry, developing a new form of distribution.

The Walking Dead: Exposure and Ratings

AMC decided to allow Gateway to screen The Walking Dead on a weekly basis for a variety of reasons. As we have discussed this year, the concept of distribution is a tricky one these days and the promotion of television shows is becoming difficult. Networks need to think of different ways to promote their shows and promote them in a more effective manner than the competition. This example is a technique used by AMC to spread the shows popularity, and expand availability to a larger audience. Although it may not contribute to the series’ ratings, it promotes the show in different ways. More people are likely to attend the viewings and then follow the show later as the series progresses. It grabs the attention of a larger audience, and this larger audience then becomes attuned to keep following the shows progression. This larger audience is also inclined to then promote the show to family and friends, and the show is networked this way.

AMC attracts a larger audience and fan following for the show, and Gateway is able to make money off this promotional strategy. Considering The Walking Dead is the only show available at the screenings, people are forced to invest their attention towards this show and this show alone. It gives the show an advantage over other shows where these screenings are not possible. The increase of the shows popularity in turn is reflected on future ratings and the shows ratings are likely to increase. For this reason, AMC decided it would be profitable and intelligent for these screenings to happen, and I’m sure Gateway was in no opposition to AMC suggestion to do so.

Bringing the Living to the Walking Dead

AMC's commercial mandate is to make money by having the largest audience to their material and to get as many people to include AMC as part of their cable subscription package. This mandate is fulfilled by the use of this practice. By having the Gateway Film Center play AMC's The Walking Dead they are fulfilling this mandate by opening their content to even a larger audience than just AMC cable buyers. By giving people access who wouldn't necessarily have access at home, AMC has increased its chances to have potential new customers and viewers. AMC is known for having unusual shows, like Breaking Bad, and is usually viewed by smaller niche audiences than the larger audiences of broadcast TV. AMC is using this new technique of free views to increase that niche audience and making them aware of the type of content that can be available to them if they choose to have AMC in their cable subscription. Their is also the power of word of mouth and a community that is formed after seeing the show together. This gives free marketing and popularity to the show that continues to fulfill its commercial mandate

This technique also has a huge impact on the exhibition and distribution practices. The Walking Dead is played not only on AMC but also on Netflix. AMC has already been changing their practices by making their material available online. By having the show available on a movie theater screen. This is a whole new way of viewing the film, in a whole new location. This completely changes the show's traditional distribution practices and opens up a whole new way to view TV. By having the show online, on TV, in a movie theater, and later on DVD, AMC is covering all of their bases for distribution and exhibition, thereby increasing all chances of the show being a success and getting AMC's brand out to larger audiences.

Showing the TV show for free at a whole new place of exhibition for television not only fulfills the commercial mandate of AMC but also modernizes their exhibition and distribution practices.