PR agency Ketchum has launched a music-marketing division, Ketchum Sounds, to be headed by Marcus Peterzell, executive VP of entertainment for Ketchum Sports & Entertainment.
With expertise in brand strategy, tour sponsorship and activation, music licensing, artist endorsements and partnerships and digital platforms, Ketchum Sounds was formed in part to dispel some of the myths brand clients have built around working with the music industry.
"A lot of brands can be scared and find music difficult to navigate as far as rights issues and artist issues," says Peterzell, a music marketing veteran who joined Ketchum in late 2011 from sports and entertainment agency GMR Marketing. "So it was really just a matter of saying to clients across the board, 'Don't be scared. The water's fine, come on in.' "
And as music continues to become a line item on the budgets of many Fortune 500 brands in the same way that sports has been for years, agencies of all stripes have been beefing up their music marketing focus as of late. Talent agencies like CAA, William Morris Endeavor and ICM have all added music-branding agents to their teams, with CAA currently selling The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Nashville's Grand Ole Opry to potential sponsors. Interpublic's PR agencies PMK BNC and Momentum have teamed up for music branding efforts like American Express' "Unstaged" and Samsung's Summer Krush Tour in recent years, while Omnicom's media-buying group OMD partnered with Spotify earlier this year to develop music-related apps to amplify efforts of clients like Pepsi, State Farm and McDonald's. Sponsorship analytics firm IEG projected music sponsorship would total $1.17 billion in 2011, a 7.3% increase from 2010, with 2012 figures likely to balloon even higher with increased spending from consumer electronics, automotive and liquor/beer marketers.
At Ketchum, what sells clients on building music strategies vs. more male-skewing sports campaigns is "the fact that you can hit any demographic," says Peterzell. "We could be doing a program from Tony Bennett to a tween superstar and the fact that it's so scaleable is really appealing. We can hit just about any budget level. You'll still hear, 'Oh music's expensive and what does that mean?' It can be expensive if you want to do a program with U2, but those were the factors we were up against."
Recent music programs that Ketchum has helped amplify include Snoop Dogg's gig in a Doritos vending machine at South by Southwest, a partnership with its Omnicom agency siblings Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and OMD, a 2011 contest for Libby's fruits and vegetables in which Jewel helped created a new jingle, and earlier this month, Sharpie's sponsorship of One Direction's upcoming North American tour dates.
And though music can often be an add-on or afterthought to many brand campaigns, Peterzell says it's starting to become a point of origin for Ketchum Sounds campaigns. "There's two initiatives we haven't announced yet, one for a retail chain and one for a pharma[ceutical] client, where music became the lead idea, which was kind of unexpected," he says. "Normally, music is a support tactic within a program, but this was the firs time where a music strategy actually won us the business. We're trying to do our best to match the right passions between artists and brands, and that partnership philosophy is very much working for us."