How This Major Brand Incorporates Social Media

an interview with
Evan Greene Chief Marketing Officer, The Recording Academy

Turns out a number of folks tuning into The Grammys last night didn’t know who Paul McCartney is.  Really.  See Buzzfeed. That’s just one of the challenges the folks at The Grammys face when marketing Music’s big night to multiple generations of music fans.  For the record, this particular boomer blogger thought the show rocked and the associated marketing was worth singing about too.  As such, I am working on a case study/article that should run next month.

In the meantime, I thought it would be timely to share part of my interview late last year with Evan Greene, the CMO of the Recording Academy, the folks behind The Grammys. Greene offers savvy insights into how his team developed their new campaign, how they measure success and how they integrate social media into their campaign from the get go.  (And by the way, if you are an app fan and a music fan, you’ll probably enjoy the We are Music iPhone app.)

DN: So, what are you doing new this year?
What we’ve really tried to do is continue to find innovation both from a macro and a micro standpoint, and as you and I have talked about, it really is about feeding the conversation, finding new and exciting and engaging ways to feed the conversation all throughout the year.   As we prepare for the Grammys again this year, we will again create a campaign that gets noticed, that gets talked about across the digital and social space and becomes more and more deeply into society and pop culture.  We’re going far beyond the idea of just promoting a television show or entertainment event.  We want to make sure that our message starts from a social standpoint and we emanate from there.

So, our campaign will be something that is easily translatable across all media, both traditional and digital media. It will be accompanied by a significant mobile presence, will be a micro site accompanying it, will be an app accompanying it.  We wanna make sure that we are part of the conversation in as many relevant and organic places as possible.  And it terms of sharing specifics, were about to launch the campaign and I can tell you that in terms of what I can share, I can tell you that in the past, you know we’ve really focused on music’s inspiration and its ability to connect us to a shared community.

DN: So this year’s idea is…
Its called, “We are Music,” and it’s about creating a visual interpretation of music, because if you look at the way music shows are traditionally promoted or marketed, its very simple, its “Hey, watch “x” show and see stars.  And the challenge is that its very one-dimensional and it doesn’t really say anything about the brand itself, and a lot of these award shows share talent anyway, if you watch one show versus another, you see the same artist in two or three or four of them. So, rather than just say the same thing as everybody else, how do we differentiate ourselves? We have to differentiate ourselves by becoming part of the story of people’s lives.

DN: Tell me more.
Were focusing on the idea that when we listen to music, we surround ourselves in it, it becomes who we are, part of our DNA, an extension of our personality, inexplicably linked with our identity, and our campaign, like music itself, is a driving pulse and is infused with energy and music.  So we think that just with that kind of simple concept that is executed very dynamically, that we’ve got something that will really excite people.

DN:  You said something really interesting in your intro; you said you wanted to make sure that the campaign starts in social. Why and what do you mean by that?
I think a lot of brands take the position that they’ll come up with an idea and then create a bolt-on digital solution or a bolt-on digital extension and what we’ve really endeavored to do and we’ve kind of indoctrinated this into our DNA here at the Academy, that everything starts from a digital place, everything starts as part of the digital conversation. Because, candidly, that’s how people are really communicating these days in a more aggressive and dynamic way, and so rather than create an idea that we think makes sense for a traditional “above the line” media approach, we started from the standpoint of “let’s create something that’s meaningful and organic socially” that can then and if we can achieve that, we think that the next natural extension is to be able to extend and engage across the board.

Because it’s hard to retrofit your idea into a digital realm and have it really make perfect sense.  So if you look at what we’ve done over the last several years, not only during the Grammys, but throughout the year, we’ve really been looking for ways to continue to feed the digital conversation around us.  And that’s really all that our campaign is, it’s another way to feed the conversation, its not the end all be all, the conversation’s going on, we’re all having the conversation all throughout the year, and the digital music conversation is certainly something that we’re part of for the other 364.  So really all were doing is finding ways to, more innovative ways to engage and get people interested in the conversation.

DN: I’ve seen the stat that showed that your ratings were up 35 % in 2010 due in part to the success of your “We’re All Fans” campaign. How did it go in 2011?
I’ll tell you, after 2010’s monster numbers, we were hoping that our campaign and our 2011 efforts would be good enough to remain flat but what we found was that our ratings were up over 3% in the aggregate, which is an extraordinary number for us. And the thing that’s really been gratifying and reassuring is that while we’re up 3% in the aggregate, we were up 4% in teens and young adults.

DN: Do you have an agency that helps you stay on the cutting edge?
We’re now on our 5th year of our AOR relationship with Chiat/Day, and many of these things that were talking about specifically related to our telecasted campaigns would not have been possible without Chiat.  We give them a brief of what we need to achieve and they do really some incredibly creative and dynamic things, so I couldn’t ask for a better creative partner than Chiat.

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