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Grammys deliver marketing firsts

News, 17 February 2016

LOS ANGELES: From live ads to wearable hardware, this year's Grammy Awards witnessed several innovations involving brands, while the organisers were focused on the quality of the conversation generated by the event.

Target, the retailer, sponsored a four-minute commercial break that featured a live music video performance by Gwen Stefani that was in some respects indistinguishable from the preceding content, apart the occasional appearances of the Target logo in the background.

"It's believed to be the first music video filmed on live television," said Variety of the performance that took place on a sound stage across town from the actual event.

During the Grammys, Intel, the chip manufacturer, was central to Lady Gaga's tribute to the late David Bowie, as its technology powered a performance that included "digital make-up" that projected Bowie's different looks onto her face, provided the ability to control visuals via hand movements and projected a hologram of Bowie himself.

Steve Fund, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Intel, claimed the performance "set a new precedent for live music experiences and is a major milestone for Intel and the Grammys".

The company has a two-year deal in place with the Grammys and intends to do something similarly spectacular next year.

But not just anyone can avail themselves of the music awards' popularity. "We are in the privileged position of being able to choose the brands we want to work with – brands to which the Grammy can bring great value," Evan Greene, CMO for the Grammys, told Forbes.

"Unlike many properties or rights-holders, the financial component is always secondary to the high caliber of the marketing/brand fit."

His colleague Neda Azarfar, VP of Marketing Communications, took a similar stance as regards the buzz created around the event. "Our focus is not just on the volume of the conversation, but the context and content of that conversation," she explained.

"If the numbers spike because there was a wardrobe malfunction, does that really constitute success for us?

"On the other hand, if we see people talking about music advocacy issues … even if the numbers aren't huge, those interactions mean a hell of a lot more."

Data sourced from Variety, BrandChannel, Forbes; additional content by Warc staff