The Grammys are not by any means in the same league as the Super Bowl or even the Oscars for that matter when it comes to advertising, so I didn’t think we’d see much other than your usual car and soft drink commercials at this year's show. But I was pleasantly surprised. Here’s what marketers can learn from the Grammys:
Native Advertising Evolved
The Internet has taught us many things, one being that if you want to advertise and have people pay attention, you need to make your ads feel like they’re part of the website browsing experience. Native advertising rarely happens anywhere other than online, but this year the Grammys got a little “native.” Many of the ads that popped up between performances and award presentations — Leon Bridges’ spot for Squarespace being a great example — had music as the centerpiece, which limited the DVR ad-skipping that usually accompanies the watching of any television show these days.
If you haven’t been paying attention, the amount of well-known songs being licensed, or “synched” in agency speak, for commercials has been significant lately. Some of the standouts all seen in the Grammy broadcast include Acura’s use of Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devil,” Hilton’s use of the Stones’ “Satisfaction,” and Bud Light’s Lime-A-Rita use of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” By using these classic hits, it provides instant familiarity to the consumer and makes them sit up and say, “I think that’s David Lee Roth’s voice.”
The use of musicians in spots has grown immensely. This year we saw the aforementioned Leon Bridges talking Squarespace, Katy Perry and Zendaya selling Cover Girl, Alicia Keys wearing Levi’s, Lady Gaga computing for Intel, Steven Tyler screaming for Skittles, and a slew of alternative artists promoting Sonos, including members of The National, Run the Jewels, and St. Vincent. Even Joey Fatone found himself in a Progressive Insurance spot. If ads have become a skippable trend, it is up to the brands to make those ads more relevant to the viewer. What’s more relevant to a watcher of the Grammys, than an ad featuring a musician that is, or has been, a Grammy nominee?
I’d have to say it’s good to be a musician these days. While Grammy CEO Neil Portnow tried to remind us that low-priced streaming music hurts musicians in the pocketbook, watching the ads this year at the Grammy Awards made me think that there is hope for starving rock stars.
You still need a hit, even if it is just a viral YouTube video or an NPR tastemaker callout. But the glass is half full. Viewers might start to like commercials a little better if they use people and songs that we love, and musicians might be able to afford to record that next hit song.