Music tie-ins climb the teen promo charts

While cross-marketing has long been a key component of the film biz, music tie-ins are evolving into a more important part of the mix in the record industry's marketing arsenal, which includes the key tools of music videos and radio singles,...
December 1, 1999

While cross-marketing has long been a key component of the film biz, music tie-ins are evolving into a more important part of the mix in the record industry’s marketing arsenal, which includes the key tools of music videos and radio singles, as well as co-op programs with retailers, print ads and sampling, says Julia Lipari, VP of special projects marketing at Zomba Label Group, part of New York-based The Zomba Group of Companies.

Established two years ago to respond to changes in music marketing and to more fully exploit Zomba’s assets and master recordings, the special projects marketing division scouts promo opps for artists signed under the Group’s eight music labels-including the most teen-skewing of Zomba’s label roster, Jive Records. Representing established pop phenoms like Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears (which, at press time, had the number one and two top-selling albums for `99 in the U.S. respectively with Millennium and . . . Baby One More Time*), as well as a slew of up-and-coming teen artists, Jive is keeping the division busiest when it comes to cross-marketing. Zomba’s alternative and pop label Volcano also boasts such teen-targeted artists as Matthew Sweet, Tool and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.

Developing Jive pop artist Don Philip will draw young teens’ attention this spring in a tie-in with Scholastic School Book Clubs, which is turning to music to fuel interest in reading. The promo will be Scholastic School Book Clubs’ first teen outreach with Jive, and will invite teens to enter a lyric-writing contest through Tab book club, for grades seven through nine primarily. The winner will fly to New York to spend a day recording his or her lyrics and will meet the 23-year-old singer. The initiative will kick off in the Tab teacher’s catalog in February, and will be supported with a poster for classrooms spotlighting the contest and the artist.

The promotion is based on previously successful preteen tie-ins with Jive for Arrow book club for grades four to six. Music has been a ‘largely untapped’ way for Scholastic to reach preteens and teens, says Liz Loftus, creative marketing manager. This past spring, a Backstreet Boys lyric-writing contest granted the winner a classroom visit from band member Howie Dorough. The two companies continued their partnership for the Camp Arrow summer continuity reading program, running May 1999 through May 2000. A cassette with a single from a different Jive artist, and a poster are bundled with the program’s monthly packages. This is the first time Scholastic School Book Clubs has coupled books and music in a continuity program, says Loftus, and the tie-in has generated higher response for Camp Arrow this year than previous years. Scholastic School Book Clubs hopes to do more teen music tie-ins next year as it continues to develop its teen presence.

Launching Jive pop artist Aaron Carter, the younger brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, is also poised to take center stage in tie-ins this spring. At press time, Dr Pepper/Seven Up and Jive were negotiating an instant-win sweepstakes for a CD featuring Jive platinum and developing artists. The promotion will be showcased on more than 50 million bottles of various beverages in the Dr Pepper/Seven Up family (which includes A&W Root Beer, Sunkist, Squirt and Crush) and on refrigerator magnetic clings and barrel cooler wrappers at retail in the U.S. Aaron Carter will be the highlighted artist on bottles, and several developing artists will appear on the clings. The effort is skedded to kick off around May and run through the summer.

Dr Pepper/Seven Up is no stranger to the music cross-marketing machine. Earlier this year, the beverage company undertook a music and home video tie-in for Dr Pepper with Sony Music in the U.S. The promotion ran from February through April, and offered a trip for a family of four to New York, 10 Sony PlayStation systems and certificates to be used toward any of 800 CD and home video products in a Sony Music catalog. Roughly 6,500 certificates were given away through bottles and cans sold in vending machines, and the promotion will repeat next year.

The company is looking to focus music tie-ins more squarely on teens in the U.S. next year, says Mike Martin, director of corporate communications, with the Jive effort and a to-be-announced initiative for 7 UP with Web-based digital music.

Also intended to spotlight Aaron Carter is a potential Valentine’s Day tie-in with Target that will include an exclusive multiartist CD and supporting TV advertising. Jive is also in discussions with JCPenney for a spring promotion involving an exclusive multiartist CD with the retailer’s teen magazine Noise.

Another bricks-and-mortar retailer tapping into teen tunes is Sears, in a wide-ranging Backstreet Boys tie-in, negotiated through the band’s L.A.-based management, The Firm. The retailer’s main objective was to connect with the youth market to drive purchases during the major selling periods of back-to-school and fourth quarter, says John Lebbad, director of event marketing and sales promotion. Sears was also rolling out Pulse Card, a U.S. youth loyalty program that entitles cardholders to discounts and other promotional offers.

The retailer signed on as presenting sponsor of the band’s North American Millennium Tour this fall. At the national level, the tie-in included a TV spot-featuring the Boys and their latest single ‘Larger than Life’- to promote a sweepstakes to win a US$2,000 shopping spree with your favorite Backstreet Boy and a trip to the concert in Tampa, Florida. Two image spots with the band and three product spots using the song were also shot. At the local level, radio ads touted a chance to win front-row seats, a limo ride and a meet-and-greet with the band. The tie-in was geared to girls ages 13 to 17, with secondary targets of teens’ moms (who still shop for their kids) and teen boys.

Sears is thrilled with the results of its first teen music tie-in. The national effort drew the second-largest number of entries since Sears began doing national storewide promotions of this scale in 1994. Sales in its Mainframe juniors and related departments lifted, Backstreet Boys poster and enhanced CD gifts with purchase vanished within a week, and the tie-in helped position Sears with teens ‘differently than they probably have ever seen us before,’ says Lebbad.

Breaking nationally the week of August 1, the Sears tie-in served as a well-timed lead-in to the release of ‘Larger than Life’ and the opening of tour ticket sales in mid-August. Zomba’s special projects marketing division is keen on tie-ins that work with the label’s schedule of album releases, says Lipari, adding that tours, music video and home video launches are also key times.

For Zomba, an additional appeal of tie-ins is the ability to reach an artist’s desired audience directly through venues and media the company wouldn’t normally have access to. Scholastic’s book clubs, for example, communicate with kids and teens in the majority of classrooms throughout the U.S. Before Britney Spears’ debut album release last January, a tie-in with Claire’s Stores boosted her exposure when she appeared on the cover and inside the November 1998 issue of store catalog Just Nikki:). The now-defunct teen fashion catalog was mailed to 2.5 million teen girls throughout the U.S. Anyone who ordered from it received a Britney Spears sampler. ‘When you get a firm, targeted hit like that,’ says Lipari, ‘that’s pretty great.’

* According to SoundScan (up to the week ending November 7)

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