Seven years ago, McDonald’s tapped Justin Timberlake in a multimillion-dollar deal to launch “I’m Lovin’ it.”
Now the marketer and a bevy of other brands such as Coca-Cola are bypassing the big stars — and in some cases the record labels — to become incubators for tomorrow’s superstars.
The fast-food chain is the launch sponsor for Artists & Brands, a music-media agency that aligns up-and-coming artists with campaigns that suit their style, a far cry from the marketer's earlier practices of shelling out big bucks for jingles on spec. In the new model, artists get exposure, while marketers save on fees and get cool points for introducing people to new music.
“In the prehistoric days, like when I started in advertising, you used to say ‘ wish I could have’; — name a big-time band — and then you’d negotiate a lot of money to get them,” said Marlena Peleo-Lazar, chief creative officer, McDonalds's USA. “But so much has changed with the music industry, technology and the internet, you certainly still can go and get Sting if you're so inclined — and have a blank check.”
McDonald’s isn’t alone. Frank Cooper, chief consumer-engagement officer at PepsiCo Americas Beverages, pointed to Green Label Sound, a platform for independent artists that quietly promotes Mtn Dew, as an example of how brands will shape the music industry.