The CMO of The Grammys on marketing an intangible 'ideal'

Being a marketer without a physical product is never the easiest job, but marketing a "representation of an ideal" is – arguably – even more difficult.

For Evan Greene, the chief marketing officer of The Recording Academy (or The Grammys as they are known as around the world), this notion is a reality of the job.

"The Grammys are traditionally held in late January or early February, and the other awards shows around that time are the Oscars, Golden Globes, DGA, Bafta and SAG," he told The Drum at the Festival of Media Global. "None of these specifically celebrates music, so what we offer is distinctively different.

"What happens on The Grammy stage really captures people's imagination and has galvanized audiences around the world for almost 60 years."

While the event may receive worldwide acclaim, Greene is conscious of the challenges associated with marketing an event only experienced by the select, and often US-centric, elite.

"We don't have a tangible product that we sell at retail," he explained. "We don't have a physical manifestation of what we do. Ultimately The Grammys represents an ideal and a concept, which is the pinnacle of achievement and the greatest musical acknowledgement that one can receive."

Greene continued: "When you have a brand that is steeped with that kind of history and heritage it's a really big responsibility, and it creates a different set of marketing challenges then trying to sell as many units as possible."

As such, The Grammys' marketing team has opted to communicate the omnipresent importance of music as whole, rather than simply their brand name.

"It's really about how music plays an important part in all of our existence," said Greene, "it's how music is that cultural connector that ties us all together because everybody's life has a soundtrack. We want to reinforce that and make sure that we continually talk about it."

Having a heritage brand helps with this tactic, and having the registered name of The Recording Academy halts any internal notions of being "just" an annual awards show, in a way that is similar to Bafta's presence in the UK.

"The Recording Academy is an organisation committed to giving back to, and supporting, the music community all year long, and The Grammys represents the culmination of this year-round effort," said Greene. "Therefore, instead of simply creating a pure 'tune-in' campaign each year, we attempt to craft a narrative that more deeply weaves The Grammys into the fabric of popular culture.

"Rather than attempting to differentiate ourselves from other properties who also hand out awards, we focus on truly telling a meaningful music-based story through our marketing - and it is this brand-based commitment to stewardship that sets us apart."

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