Contact: MSN Search Hums Along

Earlier this year, Microsoft, and its agency McCann-Erickson, San Fran-cisco, sought the right music to accompany a campaign for the msn Search Engine. It needed to entertain viewers, but most of all it had to inspire them to try msn Search. McCann turned to Hum, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based company that specializes in "music branding."

"Music branding means composition, sound design, and licensing and that's what McCann wanted for four tv spots for its search engine campaign," says Jeff Koz, the creative director and founder of Hum. The agency suggested that Microsoft and McCann endorse its "big picture" philosophy of music branding, which specifically means that instead of simply licensing a few music tracks, Hum would also gather an eclectic slate of artists and songs and pair them with live re-recordings for the spots.

"We felt strongly that compelling full-length versions of the licensed songs, performed live by the artists themselves, could serve as value-added assets to be purchased and downloaded from the msn Music Web site," Koz says. Hum worked closely with McCann to determine that two spots would be licensed for re-recordings  one spot would feature original music, the other sound design.

With approvals from both McCann and msn, Hum secured the participation of John Doe (formerly of the early '80s punk band X), and Blackalicious, an alternative hip-hop collective, to re-record the songs for the spots. Hum also handled all business-related issues regarding the music, including budgeting, negotiating rates, and contracts. Hum's involvement in the process also included negotiating the artists' album placement on the msn Music site, which was crucial in securing the artists' participation in the campaign.

Since their debut in February, msn's search engine spots have aired in major markets during high-profile events including the Grammy Awards, The nba All-Star Game, The Academy Awards, and the Super Bowl.

Koz is hoping to work the same musical magic for Land Rover's upcoming spring campaign. "Agencies are 80 percent of our client base, so as a strategic partner on the msn campaign, we try to remind marketers such as msn and McCann how powerful music can be in establishing and reinforcing brand identity," he says. "And a couple of cool cover tracks by John Doe and Blackalicious doesn't hurt, either."

Next story loading loading..