Iconic underground music company Ministry of Sound (MoS) is concocting a marketing strategy capable of tying all its sub-brands together under a premium positioning in the hope of forging a master brand capable of satisfying both loyal fans and newcomers to dance music.
Balancing the two sets of clubbers is a tricky task for any marketer but even more so in an industry that has arguably experienced the biggest fissures in the wake of the digital revolution. From the rise of streaming services that pushed MoS to begrudgingly strike deals with the likes of Spotify to the need to carve out new revenue channels through ventures like its radio station, the company has tried to be fleet of foot in order to be as relevant to dance music now as it was when it launched 25 years ago.
To do this, the business has to get better at transferring the club experience of dance music to fans “wherever they are and whenever they want”, whether that’s through technology, experiential or merchandise, explained Marcel Apfel, head of business and legal at MoS.
A siloed business structure has hampered these efforts to date though some internal wrangling at the start of the year means changes to the brand will likely come thick and fast. The internal revamp stemmed from the appointments of Matthew Kershaw and Alexis James to the newly created roles of group marketing director and commercial director, who have both set about giving the executive team a more holistic view of how the business could be connected under one vision, from the club to events, to its independent record label, compilations team and its digital offering.
The idea being that if all five parts of the business are aligned then its bosses can start looking at how they create a premium positioning and consequently win over new dance music fans. What started as a nightclub in South East London has become a global entertainment business that has yet to fully embrace the scope and opportunity that status commands, added James.
“We’re in a transitional phase,” he continued. “MoS and the sub-brands within it have been a sleeping giant and we’re definitely in an awakening period. It’s a very exciting time because for the first time in our history we’re actually opening ourselves up to other people. There’s a shift to start talking to a younger audience and addressing those 18 to 24 year olds.”
Consequently, brand partnerships, investments in its radio station and increased TV activity are all on the way as part of what is envisaged as a more expressive MoS.
“We’re going to be far more creative in how we market our audio range and the club as well as other products as we go forward,” said Apfel.
The company’s audio range, for example, launches this month and sees a host of devices including portable wireless speakers, headphones and Wi-Fi-connected mutli-room home speakers all positioned at the higher end of the category. Coupled together with the relaunch of the music and events brand Hed Kandi, it is clear MoS is wasting little time in laying the foundations for an approach that will eventually drive all areas of its marketing and more broadly the business.
Despite pumping more funds into digital, particularly its radio app, MoS still has love for TV. Last year it spent upward of £3.5m on the medium and plans a similar investment this year alongside some VoD for album launches and campaigns.