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A brand night at the Grammys: What to expect on the evening from the likes of Intel, Target & GoPro


By Doug Zanger, Americas Editor

February 13, 2016 | 4 min read

Tomorrow, the 58th Grammy Awards hits the airwaves on CBS. The artists up for (and not up for) the awards are not just “artists” but brands in their own rights — but the more traditional version of “brands” will be working to grab center stage in LA.

GoPro will have a camera in every trophy won, streaming footage as the winners collect the awards and take them back to their seats (we’ll predict a few awkward moments). Intel is collaborating with Lady Gaga on what is being called an “unprecedented, technology-infused Grammy moment" and Target is looking to up the ante from last year’s Imagine Dragons four-minute performance/ad with Gwen Stefani in a new ad/performance/rock video.

There may be a few other surprises in store (perhaps involving Kanye West?) — but that’s the beauty of live TV and especially the Grammys. With that in mind, we asked Larry Weintraub, Chief Innovation Officer and President of The Marketing Arm, who has extensive experience in music activations with the likes of State Farm, Hilton and Pepsi, to weigh in on what will likely be an interesting night.

The Drum: What brands will make the biggest impact at the Grammys?

Weintraub: It’s hard to know what most brands will do in advance of the Grammys, but I’d expect all eyes to be on Target to see how their partnership with Gwen Stefani will play out. Gwen is debuting and creating her new music video live during the Grammys broadcast sponsored by Target who will sell a deluxe version of her new album featuring four songs exclusive to them. It’s high risk for both Gwen and Target.

I’d also look for several brands to have commercials that use popular music to sell their products. The best example of that right now is Honda who has extended their Honda Civic Tour partnership with One Direction to television spots that feature the band. Additionally, Honda has breathed new life into Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream” by featuring it as the soundtrack to their constantly airing Civic ads.

The Drum: What surprises should we expect from brands at the Grammys this year?

Weintraub: I’m hopeful that a brand or two has created something special in the way of a TV ad or digital promotion that speaks specifically to the Grammys audience. The most memorable brands during an event like the Grammys are the ones that create something specifically tied to that event. It doesn’t happen often, but here’s hoping.

The Drum: Who will “win” or “own” the Grammys in the digital space?

Weintraub: Look for brands to be very active on social media. This has been a trend over the past few years, specifically through the use of Twitter, where you’ll see a lot of brands using signature moments in the Grammy broadcast to integrate their products (Arby’s 2014 gem is a perfect example). The same brands that have social “war rooms” set up during major live broadcasts like the Super Bowl, the Oscars and the World Cup, will also be there during the Grammys to seize on those pop culture moments. Also, watch how brands talk to each other during the broadcast (Again, Arby’s 2014). If one brand makes a mistake or says something inspiring, you’ll often see other brands re-tweet or call them out through their social channels.

The Drum: What Grammy-nominated artists will have impact with brands after the show?

Weintraub: The artists that have the most impact with fans are not always the ones that have impact with brands. Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd are examples of hugely popular artists, but are not the perfect fit for many brands. There are brands that would love to be in business with those artists, but the mega brands are very cautious to work with musicians whose lyrical content and off-stage reputation can raise eyebrows from consumers. Keep an eye on the country artists who are often very brand friendly.

The Drum: Bold prediction. Who will be the surprise winners?

Weintraub: I’d like to see Kendrick Lamar win best album. I’d be surprised to see that happen, but you never know.

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