Sunday, March 06, 2011

Coca Cola to use music to target teens, destroy teeth, ultimately ruin music

High sugar sticky water Coca Cola has outlined plans to make music a little worse in order to flog bottles of drink to young people. AdAge explains:

"There's a strategic clarity of growth objectives driven by the 2020 Vision," said Shay Drohan, senior VP-sparkling brands. "We can't afford not to talk to teens. You can't think, 'Teens already know us,' and skip a couple of years. Every six years there's a new population of teens in the world."
"... and the ones we'd been talking to six years ago are probably already too busy with type-two diabetes and dental visits to care about us."

So, the plan is to spume out the Coca Cola Music project. Coke and music go together like Ross and Rachel, in that it's a relationship that nobody really quite believes works, but they keep returning to it because the people in charge don't really have any other ideas and hope we all join in pretending it's a good thing and a plausible pairing.

Coke's previous run outs in music included The Moment When Everyone Realised Jack White Was Just A Hack For Hire; that Robin Beck single; the expensive flop of MyCokeMusic and setting Michael Jackson's hair on fire.

I know, technically that was Pepsi but, substantially, they're both the same thing and really any attempt to make people drink fizzy pop might as well work as well for one brand as the other, don't you think?

So, how are Coke going to impose themselves in teenagers' lives? Is it by getting to know them as individuals, taking care to tailor their advertising messages to them as close to personally as possible?
Given the rapid growth of the teen market globally, Coca-Cola plans to take the campaign to more than 100 markets. Six markets, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the U.S., will house half of the teen population by 2020.

Coca-Cola has been focused on making its efforts more global in nature, something it's done for its Olympics and World Cup efforts.

"Now there's a degree of global consistency, so everyone is [targeting teens] at the same time," Mr. Drohan said. Before, one country would focus on teens one year and then another year, another country."

The company views teens broadly as 13- to 19-year-olds, which requires the marketer to "look for the highest common denominator," Mr. Drohan said. "As we go around the world looking for insights and understanding, we say, 'Is this something local that we want to tap into or is this something more universal?'"
Well done to the top-paid marketing boffin Shay Drohan for backing the hitherto never-suspect idea that teens are, broadly, 13 to 19 year-olds. You wonder how many focus groups burned up time spotting that 12 is not pronounced twoteen.

But what a wonderful idea - why not conclude that a thirteen year-old boy in Swindon, once he hides the sticky magazines under his duvet and sprays some Lynx around to hide the smell, is substantially no different to a nineteen year-old woman in Lahore. And - hey - if teens around the world aren't actually a single blob of indistinguishable marketing types, at the very least Coke's advertising department will do its best to push them a little closer in that direction.

This is partly about that thing where "fans" will "work" with Maroon 5 to write a song, none of the royalties from which will flow back to the fans. To be fair, getting British fourteen year-olds to make entertainment products that they can't relate to, and won't share in the profits of, does bring their life experiences a little closer to that of Chinese 14 year-olds working to make ipods, so let's not dismiss Coke's ideas totally.

But Coke has other ideas, too:
Coca-Cola has partnered with One Night Only, an emerging band in the U.K., and Taio Cruz, a British singer and songwriter. One Night Only has written and recorded a new track called "Can You Feel It," which features Coca-Cola's signature five-note melody. It will be the soundtrack for a new global spot from Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam. Mr. Cruz will be working with artists selected by teens in various markets on a track he has created.
I'm sure One Night Only's track based around an advertising jingle is precisely the song they would have written anyway, and not the actions of an already dismal band cashing in the last of whatever integrity they might have had left to pass all editorial control to Atlanta.

Of course, you can't run a dead-eyed, heartless carnival like this without having the experts in that sort of destroyed dream on board. The big question is which of the RIAA Big Four are trying to hide the stench.

Step forward, Universal:
"We are working hard at Universal to bring our artists closer to their fans through unique experiences, and we believe that Coca-Cola Music is the perfect, innovative platform to continue this," Andrew Kronfeld, exec VP-international marketing, Universal Music Group International, said in a statement.
Yes. What better way to bring your artists closer to their fans than interpolating the presence of a multinational softs drink company to sell them fizzy drinks before they get to hear a song, eh?
"The artists taking part in the program are all excited to be part of opening up the creative process to teens around the world, and allowing their fans an exclusive chance to get involved with making great new music."
He continued: "You know, the fans could be out there making their own great new music, and indeed, most of the truly talented ones will be. After all, the real revolution of the internet has been to take the controls which used to make it hard for people to make and share and distribute music, which is why we're in this right old pickle having to team up with Mountain Dew or whatever to try and shore up our collapsing share of listening... oh, shit, I've gone off message again, haven't I?"
Indeed, Coca-Cola execs across the board, including CEO Muhtar Kent, have been trumpeting the importance of teens recently. "Our success in growing our sparkling category today depends on our ability to grow and connect with teens, the generation of tomorrow," Mr. Kent said at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference last month.
"Our sparkling category" - that's how they talk about their product, differentiating it from the Dansai and Glaceau, which I suspect they call the "tap water we've put into bottles" category.

To put Kent's comments into less mealy-mouthed words: if Coca Cola can't hook the kids before puberty does, we're sunk.

I can't help feeling that music probably deserves better than being used to sucker kids into that.