As brands strive to become part of the culture, music marketing is becoming a mainstay

In a crowded marketing environment, brands today are making an effort to appear more authentic to the culture rather than appearing obtrusively around it. Brands like Mars Wrigley’s 5 Gum and General Mills hope their investments in music marketing will help.

“From a marketing perspective, when music is really used appropriately and strategically, it can be a huge catalyst for brands,” said Mauricio Barreda, head of strategy at Mother in Los Angeles. “It can really help you build that affinity, that connection with your core audience, with the groups and communities that you’re trying to reach.”

Last month, 5 Gum recruited rapper JID to release a new song that was only available to five fans. It’s unclear how the stunt was pulled off as the brand is still finalizing the campaign. Financial agreement was not provided. This builds on last year’s work in which the gum brand launched a collaboration with rapper Yungblud. This collaboration resulted in 5.5 billion earned media impressions, a spike in web traffic, social engagement and share of voice, according to Scott Paul, 5 Gum’s brand manager. He did not provide further figures. This work will continue next year, he added. It’s unclear how much the Mars Wrigley brand is spending on music marketing, as Paul declined to offer specifics.

Meanwhile, General Mills created its own song, remixing “Monster Mash,” to promote its Carmella Creeper cereal ahead of Halloween. Lactaid, the maker of lactose-free dairy products, has teamed up with singer-songwriter Kelis to remix her original song “Milkshake.” Perhaps the most adventurous is Coca-Cola, which went so far as to create Coke Studios, Coca-Cola’s music platform that creates original songs.

For agency executives, advertisers are increasingly looking to music to break into the crowded digital marketplace — whether that’s through original music, partnering with an artist or using a nostalgic sound in an ad. Unlike video games, movies or other forms of entertainment, music can also be a gateway to fashion and other parts of culture, according to Alex Booker, executive creative director at BBDO NY.

“The way we see it, music in particular plays a huge role in setting the tone of culture, mainly because music has never been just about music,” Booker said in an email. “All of those reasons are why we’re seeing brands go into music — it’s shorthand for saying, ‘Hey, consumer, we’re into the same stuff.’

Marketers using celebrities for music or even creating their own songs is not a new phenomenon. But according to agency executives, TikTok’s ability to make sound go viral has changed the music industry itself and fueled marketers’ interest in sounds. Game companies are also getting in on the trend by partnering with musicians to create original songs and content.

It’s unclear how much brands are spending on music marketing this year. But advertisers can expect to pay at most six to seven figures in anticipation of licensing, publishing, entertainment and the music label’s commission, which facilitates the brand-agency relationship with decision-makers in the music space, according to an agency spokesperson.

However, brands need to be sure they are aligning with the right artist. “Sometimes brands think they can borrow or buy their way into an identity so they don’t have to build it themselves,” Mother LA’s Barreda said.

Stacey Wade, CEO and executive creative director of NIMBUS, a black-owned marketing agency, echoed Barreda, saying there’s a fine line between appreciation and appropriation when it comes to music marketing. “You don’t just use the music,” Wade said. “You use the personality and the artist that comes with the music.”

With music streaming one of Gen Z’s most popular media activities, according to Insider Intelligence, expect music in marketing to be a trend that continues, executives say.

“This trend we are talking about will continue. Attracting artists to real locations is something that has started to take hold as a trendy thing. That will continue,” Wade said.

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