This year marked the launch of a new Entertainment event at Cannes Lions, introducing a fresh energy and obvious nod to the increasingly blurred lines surrounding branded content creation.
The musical lineup at this year’s festival alone, including artists by the likes of Usher, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and Poo Bear, was a clear indication that brands are well on their way to becoming some of the biggest investors in music properties and talent of the future. Their presence also signified that brands are engaging with music in a more meaningful way than ever before, and truly investing in culture with a fresh perspective.
While music will undoubtedly continue to be a prominent fixture in culture, the traditional model of creation is shifting. Music lovers no longer choose to pay for albums or singles, therefore leading traditional labels and publishing companies to take less risks and in turn pave the way for brands to step in and own music from top to bottom. So, with audience attention spans continuing to wane, marketers must bring their A-game when it comes to the type of music they’re attaching to a brand, and consider artists as their own brands while doing so.
This theme rang true throughout a number of sessions this year. A fireside chat between Justin Beiber’s main musical collaborator, Poo Bear, and Jingle Punks co-founder and president, Jared Gutstadt, addressed these issues by explaining the importance of music for brand building today, as well as how essential it is to make music part of a dynamic marketing strategy right at the upfront.
The notion of music as a conduit for brand affiliation can also be seen in television and film, with a whole new revenue stream opening up to artists who get involved in producing tracks for longer-form content, supported by brands/TV shows that no longer simply front the basic sponsorship they’ve done in the past. There is more of an importance for music to win over the consumer and influence behavior and decision-making preferences than ever before, and that sentiment has echoed throughout the Entertainment track.
Amongst winners of the inaugural Lions Entertainment for Music category this year was none other than Beyoncé for her acclaimed “Formation” music video, taking home the coveted Grand Prix Lion Award. While “Formation” may not seem like your typical brand campaign, the video symbolizes a complete repositioning of the artist’s personal brand, and its impact on issues around race and the perception of women in culture. This win has set the tone with an impossibly high standard for those shortlisted within the category for years to come.
All in all, it was evident at this year’s festival that the role of music in advertising should by no means be underestimated.