Domino’s campaign for A Bath Full Of Ecstasy – the seventh studio album from Hot Chip – was named Campaign Of The Year at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit in London yesterday (30th October).
It was one of five shortlisted campaigns that were put to an audience vote and it emerged as the clear winner. It was praised for the way in which it reawakened the band’s existing fanbase after a four-year gap from Why Make Sense?, their previous studio album. It also managed to position the band in front of a new Gen Z audience.
In our overview of the campaign, we said, “It worked on a mixture of traditional posts like playlists as well as fun artist posts. The attention to detail for all these activations was very strong throughout the campaign. This was a really ambitious campaign for Domino and they executed it really well.”
The other shortlisted (and extremely praiseworthy campaigns in their own right) were:
Columbia’s campaign for ‘Pieces Of Us’ by Mark Ronson (featuring King Princess) which pushed the envelope in terms of its use of UGC and Instagram videos. “The exciting thing about this particular campaign was that it was the first ever purpose-built video for Instagram Stories. It was such a great innovation around this video,” we said, highlighting how an official video sat beside a rolling fan-created video that drew on polls, lyrics, stickers and AR effects within Instagram.
Polydor’s Campaign for High Expectations by Mabel also drew a lot of respect. “One of the objectives was to establish her as a fully fledged pop star in the UK and also internationally,” we said, praising how it used weekly uploads and premiers on YouTube as well as teasing videos days in advance. We also liked its deft use of TikTok and how she worked with influencers in categories like make up and fashion to fuel her breakthrough, all the time having a bespoke strategy for each platform she was active on.
Warner Records’ campaign for Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Parts 1 + 2 by Foals which celebrated for its ambitious working of two separate (but linked) albums that came out in March and October. “It was a really content-heavy campaign and it was about keeping the momentum going across the year,” we said, noting the deft use of teaser content and how campaign motifs around the first album were deliberately controlled around the first album to then be hugely amplified for the second album.
The Orchard’s campaign for Lost & Found by Jorja Smith was the final one in our shortlist. “This campaign did an excellent job of running conversion ads,” we said. “There were many really key moments in this campaign and the team did really well to maximise exposure around them.” It maximised activity around both her Brits nomination (where she won best female solo act) and the video for ‘On Your Own’.
Centring all the assets around its core theme was a strength of the campaign and it used clever remarketing to people who had engaged with her in some way up until they bought the album. This ensured there was no ad fatigue among the audience and that her team not wasting money chasing people who had not engaged with her.
This celebration of five very different – but equally impressive – campaigns led into a panel discussion (moderated by Olivia Hobbs, founder & director of Blackstar London) where everyone was tasked with talking through a campaign they did not work on themselves but which they were enormously envious of.
Jessica Keeley-Carter, SVP of global marketing at Warner Music Group, chose outdoor clothing brand Patagonia for what she saw as an original and ethical approach to marketing. She praised it for expertly working through the three main steps of any campaign – building authenticity to build a community and from that building influence.
“Authenticity is one of the most important things for a brand,” she said. “You can’t reverse yourself into your mission statement through marketing; it has to live and breathe through everything you do both internally and externally.”
She noted how the company is meticulous in hiring people who both get and buy into its ideas and goals. She paralleled this with music where buying into the idea of an artist and their vision is key. “That filters into the external portrayal of what that artist it all about,” she said.
Patagonia, she noted, argues its marketing is about building a movement and the company is transparent about its supply chain as well as how it pays people. This then feeds into how authentic it is perceived as being, with its customers trusting the brand because of that. “Any strong brand is good at building a community of likeminded people around them,” she argued, highlighting the company’s Don’t Buy This Jacket ad from 2011. It was the antithesis of the Black Friday consumer cattle run and raised the issue of the wastefulness of much marketing.
On an ethical level, she noted how, if you build a community, you can drive change in the real world, noting how Patagonia is suing President Trump over plans to reduce the size of two national parks in Utah by 85%.
“They are actually driving that change,” she said. “For our artists, that is the biggest thing we can help them do. We can help support what they are about and what they are trying to achieve through marketing […] To bring it back to music, one of our artists who does this spectacularly well is Stormzy.” She gave the example of his awarding of scholarships to young black students wanting to study at Cambridge as well as his iconic headlining set at Glastonbury this year (where he made important political statements about life in the UK in 2019) as examples of this in action.
Tom Peacock, director of Beautiful Digital, picked the high-octane launch of K-pop supergroup SuperM this summer as the campaign he was most envious of. The group was only announced on 7th August and within a matter of weeks has secured a number 1 album in the US.
The campaign was like a Hollywood blockbuster that included the closing down of a street in LA for their debut live performance. Traditionally fans of one K-pop act have an intense rivalry with fans of other K-pop acts – and this was cleverly played on in this campaign, creating intrigue around the new composite act and galvanising this disparate fanbases around SuperM.
The Avengers Of K-Pop was the marketing angle from the off and they collaborated with Marvel to hammer this idea home. It was a no-expense-spared campaign and this was reflected in every piece of content looking and feeling expensive and well-crafted.
A month before it came out, the members of SuperM did an album unboxing and were able to drive phenomenal pre-orders without anyone even hearing a note of music.
“They didn’t reinvent the wheel,” he said. “They just did it extremely well. It was the theatrics of it all, the cinematography and the fan in-fighting.”
Alongside shutting down a street in LA for the weekend, they conducted fake press conference and did a live stream to Facebook in HD.
“It was akin to a massively Hollywood film,” he said. “It was like gods were descending on LA.”
Finally, Annika Walsh, who leads the artist and label marketing team at Spotify, picked the great Girls Aloud Versus One True Voice chart battle of 2002, where they both formed on TV show Pop Stars: The Rivals and competed for the UK Christmas number 1.
It not only set a boy band against a girl group, it also set Polydor against Jive. Both acts had two tracks to release and One True Voice made a video for each of their songs whereas Girls Aloud made one video (for ‘Sound Of The Underground’) and spent the rest of their marketing budget elsewhere – complete with a “Buy Girls, Bye Boys” slogan that became a rallying cry for fans.
“You really wanted them to win but you didn’t think they would,” she said of the drama around the campaign. Girls Aloud won the chart battle by some distance despite the odds being against them.
“If you take some risks, if you can be creative, if you believe in the artist and come up with a narrative [that can make a big difference],” she said of what we can take away from this campaign.
When asked what marketers could learn from these different campaign, Keeley-Carter said the most important thing to have is a brand.
Walsh added, “Have a clear identity that can forge that sense of community and belonging. Billie Eilish is a leader in that.”
Peacock said that having the space and budget to dream up something extravagant was what he was most envious of with regard to the SuperM campaign.
“There is so much noise and so much content going out there – and to just have the time to piece together the vision of something that can be truly amazing [is what stands out here],” he said, noting this is very rare and therefore cuts through massively. “The whole idea, even before execution, is brave and pretty insane.”
Walsh said of the Girls Aloud campaign, “I wish I was the person to say, ‘Why make two videos when we can make one and use the money for something else?’ And to just see the faces of everyone else in the room.”