Branded Entertainment x Adweek


Excerpt:

Branded entertainment, in general, is primed for high growth. According to PQ Media’s “Branded Entertainment Marketing Forecast: 2008-2012” — released before the financial crisis hit Wall Street and beyond — the sector is expected to reach 13.9 percent growth this year, with ad expenditures projected at approximately $25 billion. Last year, ad spending on the sector was about $22 billion. The report suggests double-digit growth through 2012, and notes ad spending will likely surpass $40 billion.

Read the full article – which features input from ACME’s David Caruso – here.

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Dedicated to My First Love: Hip-Hop

“…Told her if she got an image and a gimmick
That she could make money, and she did it …
Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal
She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle
Now she be in the ’burbs lookin’ rock and dressin’ hip
…who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop”

– Common

Loving hip hop, in the past, meant following the newest trends, as well as to perform acapella renditions of classic hip hop songs with my friends. It meant observing and sometimes following urban fashion trends. It meant religiously listening to Hot 97 to be up on the newest songs, and avidly watching Free and AJ host BET’s 106th and Park to learn the latest dances. It meant disobeying my mother’s wishes to switch to a musical genre that didn’t frequently use offensive language. I loved hip-hop so much I fantasized of acquiring an internship and eventually landing a job at a major record label such as Def Jam or Atlantic Records. The internship I got instead exceeded any daydream I had, let alone any expectations I had for the internship. So like Common, I took loving hip-hop to the next level the summer of ’08; I committed to her.

My desire to be closer to hip-hop led me to Acme Content Co, a branding company. The opportunity wasn’t necessarily what I had in mind, but I was willing to give it a shot. I was told that corporate giant P&G, was looking to successfully market their body spray, TAG, by differentiating the product from the competing body spray. P&G and its companies observed that there were no body sprays that targeted young, urban males. P&G and Acme agreed that the best way to successfully market to urban, young males was through hip-hop. In order to believably market to this demographic, they decided to team up with the living hip-hop legend, and coincidentally, the president of Island Def Jam, Jermaine Dupri to start a record label from the ground up. These perceptive observations led to TAG Records’ birth, a little before I signed on to work for the internship. I started working just as they were deciding between two acts. They finally agreed on the lyricist Q da Kid. I must admit, I was fairly impressed with the decision to sign Q, because the other act would’ve been a much safer choice because of the whole N.E.R.D./ Lupe Fiasco/Kanye West vibe the group had going for it. But instead Q was chosen, despite his rawness. They saw potential in this dude from Brooklyn, who was also committed to hip-hop and decided to take a chance on him. I respected that. I also respected their decision to give him creative freedom with very reasonable limits. So learning this, I felt pretty confident that I would soon feel comfortable joining the team that would help to make both P&G’s and Q’s dream come true.

I courted hip-hop mainly through TAG’s Myspace page. I communicated with other music lovers, and fans of both TAG and Q. I also helped to build our network through Core Djs’ networking site. I officially became the intern/community manager. Every day I listened to our friends’ music and help to decide which artists would make “Spotlight.” I also made sure I was up to date with the ever-evolving music industry by reading blogs. I also loved the perks, such as free music, attending commercial shoots and other major events as well as meeting hip hop celebrities. Like all relationships, it wasn’t always easy, but if you love what you do, then all the work is worth it.

All in all, the summer internship at Acme was a very unexpected, but thoroughly, enjoyable one. Through the internship, I am still fervently committed to hip-hop and in this relationship for the long haul.

– Ernestine Belgrave, ACME Intern

Lauren Conrad + mark x MTV

Lauren in ‘The Club’

Lauren in ‘The Date’

ACME on NPR, TAG at Rucker Park and more!

We have tons of interesting updates covering what has been a whirlwind of activity over the last few weeks.

Some beautiful mark spots have been all over mtv for the last two weeks as part of an integration with The Hills.  We will post the videos up here as soon as we get our hands on them.  Check out the video player at thehills.mtv.com and the Lauren Look Book located on SeenOnMTV.com.   We will provide more insight into this program soon.

David and Adam Weber are featured in this NPR story on the merging of music and brand marketing.   I love how they used audio from YouTube videos as sound bytes.  Very clever and very effective.  They even threw in some classic Q music that they must have lifted from Myspace.    Listen to the story here.

TAG @ Rucker Park

TAG kicked off the Survival of the Freshest tour at Rucker Park on August 14th.   The true survivors stuck it out through the rain and the evening wrapped with a killer mc competition (see video below).   Jermaine Dupri, Q, Russell Simmons, DJ Envy, Michael Bivins and others all turned out for the event.  Congrats to both Sandman and Cash Flow for doing their thing in front of a tough Harlem crowd.

Music + Brands: The Credibility Question

The Credibility Question. If you are at all dialed in to the music + brand partnership space, you no doubt hear and read about it often, whether in blog posts, blog comments or even in the New York Times. Reporters and bloggers cannot let any commentary about a brand’s foray into music slide without a ‘Yeah, but will it be credible?’, said in a variety of ways, depending on whether you are reading SOHH.com or DisenchantedOldMarketingSnob.com. At this point, we totally expect that. We have heard it from the outset, but always laughed it off. Here is the rationale.

I am convinced that any brand diving head first into millions of dollars worth of investment in the music space (ACME-led or not) would expect credibility to be a given. Brand managers – whether sitting at a label managing the release of the new Nas album or at BILLION dollar consumer packaged good brand – understand the underlying need to be credible, if anything at all. So why would either turn off the credibility filter when they join marketing forces? This is why Converse hires Pharrell. Or why Nike and Absolut hire Kanye. And why P&G forged a partnership with Island Def Jam and Jermaine Dupri. All of these parties are so inherently credible when they do what they do, the credibility conversation rarely comes up at all.

Do you think someone went to Pharrell and said “Hey Pharrell. Make a hot song for Converse. Oh, and uh, make sure it’s credible.”

The biggest irony in The Credibility Question is the fact that the consumers are seemingly the ones questioning credibility the least. These music/brand relationships typically serve to add value to their lives and by all indications, brands are delivering for consumers. The TAG Records Myspace profile received just under 1 million views in 2 months. Multiple artists have created original music for the brand – unsolicited. Aspiring artists have dedicated huge portions of there Myspace profiles to TAG Records, and have loudly expressed their dedication to the brand, simply because the brand is listening to them like no other brand/record label has before.

Converse is giving away a free Pharrell song. It happens to be a great song, and now has a great video. Pharrell grabbed a couple of friends, produced a killer track and groundbreaking video, and it would have never seen the light of day without Converse. Yeah, but is it credible? Stupid question.

The first few seconds seem to be all it takes for a consumer to sniff something out, and if any of these deals were suspect, they would have fell flat right out of the gates. Let the music speak for itself. I firmly believe… “If a 40+ year-old, balding, blogger thinks our youth-focused programs aren’t cool, we are probably doing something right!”

And the biggest question of all… what do the skeptical reporters and bloggers consider credible these days anyways? Apple Bottom jeans? Boots with the fur?

American Brandstand: TAG & ACME Featured in New York Times

This is actually the third NY Times piece that has covered TAG Records – which must be a sign that we are on to something to special. This particular article happens to highlight the fact that TAG is just one of a number of brands that are currently jumping into the music space in interesting ways. All of these programs (Bacardi, Red Bull, TAG, and Converse) are getting major buzz upon announcement, but the real test will be how any of them move the sales needle. Now we all watch, unless you are actually part of one of the campaigns – and the work is really just beginning!

Indeed, brands are getting deeper and deeper into the music business, but they are not exactly forcing themselves in. Savvy labels and artists are embracing the right types of branded programs, and if you were around 5-10 years ago, it simply wasn’t the case.

“When I started in this business 10 years ago, it was hard to get an artist to stand in front of a sign with a logo on it,” said David Caruso, the co-founder of Acme, the agency that negotiated the deal between Island Def Jam and Tag.

Now artists are actually calling brands. Seems crazy, but I like to think they are getting smart 🙂

Read the entire article here.

TAG Records Launch Party – A Huge Success!

Lots of heavy hitting members of THE hip-hop elite came out to help celebrate the launch of TAG Records! Everyone from Nelly and Slim Thug to Nas and Bill Maher hit the party at the soon-to-open  Kress. Blog coverage has been huge, but here are a couple of videos and some pictures that help document the scene:

and from Rap-Up:

Pics from Wire Image here and here.