Festival of Marketing 2014: ‘95% of money brands spend on music is wasted’

According to music agency Pitch & Sync, 95% of the money spent by brands on music is wasted. John Lewis are the ones getting it right

According to music agency Pitch & Sync, 95% of the money spent by brands on music is wasted. John Lewis are the ones getting it right.

Pitch & Sync’s Alex Lavery and Simon Robinson were speaking at the Festival of Marketing, the two-day conference organised by Centaur Media’s Marketing Week, Econsultancy, Design Week, CR and Celebrity Intelligence.

They argued that predominantly music is treated very tactically for short term marketing objectives by brands and, as a consequence, rarely says anything strategically about them. To illustrate this, they played several soundtracks used by brands over the past year in commercials and asked the audience to name the brand – no-one could.

However the most money is wasted because of brands choosing the wrong licencing deals. Robinson cited the example of Durex’s Turn Off to Turn On Earth Hour film (above) from earlier this year. The brand had only licenced the track (a re-record of The Four Tops’ I can’t Help Myself) for three months. However, the ad proved immensely popular online. When Durex went back to the rights holder to renegotiate, the price was upped to such an extent that they couldn’t afford it and the film had to be pulled.

Pitch & Synch organised an innovative collaboration between Groove Armada and Bacardi whereby the brand had the exclusive rights to release new Groove Armada tracks for a year as well as securing their exclusive collaboration for live events, radio and blog content.

John Lewis, they argued, were the one brand getting it right in terms of using music strategically to meet the needs of the brand. “John Lewis’s values are about family – the music theyuse is warm and very personal. That comes from its production, the treatment of the vocals and the fact that they use cover versions,” Robinson said. “Covers provide that extra comfort blanket of nostalgia, while the lyrics [of the songs they have chosen] are relevant to what the brand stands for and its values. It’s a deliberate, strategic approach which has been consistently used so that they now own this ‘sonic space’. It’s almost got to the point where if you hear a track you’ll say ‘that’s a bit John Lewis’. They use music to add real meaning and value to the brand.”


The Festival of Marketing is a two-day conference organised by Centaur media brands, including Design Week, Econsultancy, Marketing Week, Celebrity Intelligence and CR. For details, see festivalofmarketing.com

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