Marketing Lessons Learned From The Grammys

The 65th annual Grammy Awards returned Sunday night, delivering big-name performances from contemporary stars, newcomers, and iconic veterans alike.

It was also a night full of history as Beyonce became the artist with the most Grammys ever (32!) while Sam Smith and Kim Petras became the first non-binary and transgender artists, respectively, to win the best pop duo/group performance. 

While it was an amazing night of celebration, let’s face it -- The Grammys, and all awards shows for that matter -- have theirs ups and downs.

We’ve all been there asking ourselves the same questions: “Do I really want to watch this?” “Will the host actually be funny?” “Are the performances going to be any good?” At the same time there’s the curiosity that draws us in: “Who will be the best (or craziest) dressed?” “Is someone going to do something crazy – a la Kayne at the 2009 VMAs?”



The only way to answer these questions is to tune in -- or in today’s reality, watch the TikTok highlights after.

But what doesn’t come from viral TikToks are the lessons brands and marketers can take away from the Grammys.

At its core, music is a celebration of culture. It’s authentic and grounded in meaning, something every brand, and marketer for that matter, should strive for. From the collaborations to the introductions, and the speeches there was something for every brand to consider in their marketing strategy going forward: 

Create Authentic, One-of-a-Kind Collaborations: Motown legend Stevie Wonder and country powerhouse Chris Stapleton probably aren’t the first two artists anyone would expect to be singing together, but the reality? It worked. There was a natural respect and admiration as the two sang “Higher Ground,” pushing each other as they traded solos.

It’s the kind of partnership any brand would be lucky to have – one where each party brings their unique voice and pushes the other to do better. In the end not only does each brand win, so does the consumer. 

Don’t Forget About Your Biggest Fans: Throughout this year’s Grammys, fans and loved ones took the place of celebrities to introduce the performers.

Brandi Carlile’s wife and kids introduced her, while Lizzo was introduced by Jayla Rose Sullivan, a transgender dancer featured on Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrls and thanked the star for “opening up doors for women of size, women of color and people with all the different gender expressions.”
When Beyonce won for Best R&B Song for “Cuff It” she said, “I’d like to thank the queer community for your love and for inventing the genre.”

This all goes to say that acknowledging and making fans (or loyal customers) part of the brand story goes far beyond a sale. It creates advocates and gives others a reason to believe. 

Know Your Voice: When it came time to accept the award for best pop duo/group performance Sam Smith and Kim Petras took the stage together, but Petras did the talking. She began her speech by saying Smith wanted her to accept the award for their duo, “Unholy” because she is the first transgender woman to win.

While Smith also made history in the category as the first non-binary winner, they understood it was a moment for Petras to shine.

As people and brands, we all have our moments in time to be heard. A brand can’t be everything or everywhere all the time. What matters is that the brand voice comes through in the moments the brand really stands for. This not only creates an unmatched authenticity, but just imagine the brand advocates it could create. 

Be a Cheerleader: Harry Styles won Album of the Year, and frankly, not everyone was happy. As Styles accepted the award, he was heckled by fans shouting “Beyonce” and “Beyonce should’ve won” – maybe some of these brand advocates took it to far, but it was the reaction of others -- particularly Taylor Swift -- that showed us how it’s done.

Swift stood throughout Style’s entire acceptance speech, watching and listening with purpose. Not only that, but throughout the night Swift was shown on camera giving standing ovations, applauding, and showing her support for fellow artists.

Maybe it’s because of her experience with Kanye at the VMAs in 2009, or maybe it’s because Swift has built a brand empire and understands the value of lifting others up.

Not every artist or brand will win, and healthy competition makes us all better as brands and marketers. Not to mention the support and camaraderie we build by supporting each other could lead to the next big collaboration. 

At the end of the day, many musicians, just like brands, are looking to sell more.

Although the products may be different, the fundamentals are the same: authentic collaborations, loyalty, knowing your voice, and lifting others up.

While these won’t solve every brand problem, they will enable a more meaningful connection with consumers whose attention and dollars are limited.


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