Giles Fitzgerald, Trends & Insights Editor at FRUKT, filters the GRAMMYs noise to find the brands making their mark on Music's Biggest Night
As the Super Bowl of music wraps up for another year, just what have we learned?
Kanye West is doing re-runs; Pharrell has other stupid hats; the world missed the memo on Ed Sheeran’s album title; Kristen Wiig wears a wig: AC/DC Devil Horns come with restrictions; and Katy Perry is clearly going to be haunted by the shadow of Left Shark for a very long time to come.
Oh, and apparently Lily Allen’s cousin won four major awards.
Looking beyond the glitz and glamour of the awards show itself, you’ll find a host of big name brands out in force, eager to strike a credible alignment with Music’s Biggest Night; whether it's in the much-coveted ad breaks, the week preceding the event, or by supporting the star-studded after parties. Here‘s our ‘all you need to know’ run down of some of the stand out brand-fuelled music moments
MASTERCARD SERVES UP PRICELESS SURPRISES
Continuing with its long-running Priceless Surprises campaign, the brand hosted a major pre-Grammy bash ahead of Awards night, which saw current ambassador Gwen Stefani preforming her first solo concert in eight years, live in front of a select audience of 2,000 fans and competition winners. The event, held at the Orpheum Theatre, also saw the singer and former The Voice judge debuting a new track ‘Start a War'.
This is bold move again from MasterCard, delivering a host of unique experiences for fans in the run up to the exclusive pre-Grammy event, bringing them into greater proximity with their idols and the celebrity lifestyle. Stand out moments include an LA scavenger hunt with fans having to track down ‘Gwenabees’ to net concert tickets, and surprising a group of fans that requested a Lyft ride with a VIP bus (complete with a selfie machine), tickets to see Gwen in concert, a makeover and photo-shoot, and VIP tickets to the Grammys.
TARGET REIMAGINES THE AD BREAKS
In major departure from the brand's 15 year Grammys ad heritage - which has largely consisted of multiple 30-second spot buys – the big box retailer dropped a four minute live concert experience from Imagine Dragons (complete with 360 degree cameras and helicopter viewpoints) into the Grammy’s ad break. The brand also drove earned media by utilising Twitter’s ‘Flock to Unlock’ tools, getting fans to share tweets in order to unlock behind-the-scenes footage.
Positioned under the #MoreMusic banner, this kind of stunt doesn’t come cheap (circa $8M for air time alone), but it certainly packs a memorable punch in terms of entertainment value, not to mention the knock-on promotional benefit for the band ahead of their album release. What is most notable here, is how the brand effectively hijacked the event with a Grammy worthy live production that made the ad undistinguishable from content you’d expect to see during the actual broadcast.
ADIDAS GLOWS ON THE RED CARPET
Pharrell Williams showcased his ongoing partnership with the sports apparel brand by pitching up on the red carpet with his wife (model Helen Lasichanh), both of whom were decked out in full adidas attire. Pharrell’s seemingly understated suit quickly became one of the evening’s talking points thanks to unique 3M light-reflective fabric, which made the garment glow bright white in photographs. The singer also sported a jewel-encrusted pair of yellow Stan Smith’s later in the evening whilst on stage.
Given the furore over his hat last year, this was always going to be a tough act to follow in terms of social media reach, however, adidas managed to instigate one of the evening’s more innovative stunts, with the reflective suit making full use of the red carpet pap frenzy to drive PR momentum. Not to be outdone, Kanye West also provided adidas with plenty of screen time and social chatter by debuting his new ‘Yeezy Boost’ adidas footwear during his long-awaited Grammy performance.
HYUNDAI AMPLIFIES ENERGING ARTISTS
The auto brand inked a further three-year deal with the Recording Academy to support its GRAMMY Amplifier series, activity supporting up and coming artists. This year it was the turn of Uptown Funkster Mark Ronson, The Band Perry, Ziggy Marley and Allen Stone to judge - and ultimately go on to mentor - three emerging artist/acts. The brand also netted spots on the red carpet and at the after party for its vehicles, as well as chauffeuring the stars across LA.
Unlike many promotions this one doesn’t turn out the lights on its activity when the Grammy’s curtain comes down. A smart integrated partnership that runs throughout the year promoting the chosen acts at various events, even showcasing the previous year’s efforts during the Grammys ad breaks to highlight the brand’s commitment to music. As a side note, much like Target, the brand also gave a massive boost to Imagine Dragons - featuring their hit 'Radioactive' in multiple TV spots.
DELTA AIRLINES OFFERS MID AIR MUSIC BUSINESS ADVICE
Delta Airlines celebrated its 8th year as official airline partner with a star-studded party at Soho House, with Charlie XCX - following in Lorde’s footsteps from last year’s event – performing a six song private showcase, with a pre-set warm up from The Roots. In the run up to the event Ryan Lewis (of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) flew from Seattle to LA as part of Delta's 'Innovation Class' mentorship program, offering music business tips to an aspiring singer for the duration of the flight.
This pre-Grammy party was all about netting big name impact, with notable guests such as Adam Levine, Victoria Justice, DJ Zedd, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra and Emily Ratajkowski all assisting in grabbing plenty of press headlines. Away from the photo opportunity of the PR world the Ryan Lewis effort feeds in nicely to the brand’s 'Delta Artist Spotlight' platform, which offers up new artist discovery in flight for Delta customers.
APPLE PUSHES ITS ALL IN ONE MUSIC STUDIO
The world’s most profitable brand amped up its creative music associations ahead of the Grammys with a new ad featuring a mix of cutting edge artists, including Swedish singer Elliphant, LA-based producer Gaslamp Killer, and English DJ Riton. The ad showcases the three artists collaborating on a remix of Elliphant's track "All Or Nothing", using production based apps – from songwriting to filming - available on the iPad.
iPad sales, much like their precursor the iPod, are declining in an increasingly price competitive market for Apple. This ad aims to refocus Millennial (and arguably post-Millennial) interest in the device as a creation tool as opposed to a consumption device, thereby separating it out from the mass of also ran tablets in the market. It’s a slick production, and sets up its creative mantra with clarity – exactly what you’d expect from Apple.
LEVI'S ASKS US ALL TO BE MORE DOGG
The jeanswear brand teamed up with Snoop Dogg to promote its new line of 501 CT (Cutomized & Tapered) jeans and the forthcoming release of Snoop's next album, with a pre-Grammy party. The Snoop + Friends event, held at the Hollywood Palladium in LA, notched up an impressive roster of artists, including Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, Chaka Khan, Skrillex and Dilpo , plus it was topped off by a brand new collaboration – entitled ‘Peaches n Cream’ - with Pharrell.
Levi’s, like many long-standing jeanswear brands, is having a tough time selling in the notion of Denim to younger Millennials and this is a concerted push towards the urban demographic from Levi’s as it looks to its musical heritage to plug a cultural and generational gap. Despite a distinct absence of Levi’s branding – which may well be intentional – Snoop (resplendent in a blue velvet blazer and 501s) made sure the Califonian clothing brand was front of mind by yelling “Shout out to Levi’s 50-motherf**ing-1’s” at one point in the evening,