Case in point: Atlantic, whose artist Bruno Mars not only headlined the Halftime Show but was also featured via synchs in spots for Pepsi and Hyundai.
“We started the conversation with Pepsi at the very beginning of his album cycle in that they were some of the first people to hear Bruno’s latest music,” says Camille Hackney, Atlantic’s EVP-brand partnerships and commercial licensing. “Three months before the album came out [in 2012] we brought them in for a private session, and ever since then we’ve been trying to find a great way to work with them. They were fully supportive of him as the Halftime performer and we all realized that this was the best way to work together. And that his song 'Locked Out of Heaven' was featured in their TV commercial called "The First Halftime" that ran for several weeks leading up to the Superbowl made it all come full circle."
The focus on current vs. catalog extended to some of the night’s most-watched spots, particularly Passenger’s “Let Her Go” from Budweiser’s latest Clydesdales commercial. Several more recognizable songs from the past were in the running, including Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” and a planned re-recording of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” -- before the current Hot 100 Top 10 was selected. Brand-new tracks from Zedd and Afrojack were also featured in spots by Anheuser-Busch, the night’s most active advertiser.
“We’ve had some synchs on it before, but now we’re starting to see it move and people talk about it,” says Brian Monaco, exec VP of Sony/ATV’s commercial music group, says of the Passenger synch. “Anheuser-Busch really took a lot of chances this year.”
The focus on newer music also meant higher synch revenue for artists, many of whom signed one-year broadcast-plus-online deals and commanded as much as low-six figures apiece for both publishing and master fees. U2, however, kept their compensation from (RED)’s 60-second spot pro bono, in keeping with the free iTunes downloads of new single “Invisible” the band was promoting in partnership with Bank Of America.
Could the hit-based trend continue next year? As long as advertisers continue to see positive results from helping break new music, say publishers. “Online viewing has really given these spots a decent shelf-life -- it’s become a critical component ,” says Brian Lambert, Universal’s exec VP-head of film and television music. “Spots that used to be talked about for maybe a week are now being seen for a month or 13 weeks or even a year, so you want a song that’s going to give it some legs.”