Let the mu­sic do the talk­ing

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Here’s a ques­tion: do you like a haddi in your kabab? How about a big pot­hole right in the mid­dle of a road? Of course you don’t. No one does. And that’s ex­actly why most peo­ple hate ads. There you are, try­ing to en­joy your fa­vorite pro­gramme and all of a sud­den some­one am­bushes you, selling some­thing you have ab­so­lutely no in­ter­est in. Yes, I’m sure it’s very im­por­tant to clients that their new de­ter­gent mag­net­i­cally re­moves stains or that their new ce­real will sh*t-start my morn­ing, but trust me, when I’m in the mid­dle of an episode of Castle, that’s the last thing I want to hear about.

So is that to say we should stop advertising al­to­gether? Of course not. What it means is that like any suc­cess­ful in­dus­try, we need to take a step back, re-eval­u­ate and adapt to chang­ing trends. I’m not talk­ing about tak­ing the ha­rass­ment online and pro­vok­ing in­no­cent Face­book­ers with poorly an­i­mated ban­ner ads. I’m talk­ing about chang­ing the way we ap­proach and en­gage au­di­ences al­to­gether. For ex­am­ple, what if we stop in­ter­rupt­ing and start in­te­grat­ing by cre­at­ing con­tent that au­di­ences ac­tu­ally want to seek out and en­joy? Seems im­pos­si­ble? The truth is it’s al­ready be­ing done. It’s called Coke Stu­dio.

Coke’s deaf­en­ingly loud pres­ence

Let me be hon­est: although I’m a Coca-Cola fan, I’m ac­tu­ally not a fol­lower of the Coke Stu­dio se­ries at all. But de­spite that, even for some­one like me who gen­er­ally avoids main­stream media, Coke Stu­dio is pretty damn hard to ig­nore – im­pos­si­ble ac­tu­ally. Al­most ev­ery­one I know (mu­sic-lover or not) is al­ready talk­ing about the on­go­ing sea­son as if it’s the only mu­sic show on TV. They know the songs, all the artists, and have their own per­sonal rat­ings for each sea­son. But that got me think­ing. What did Coke Stu­dio do that MTV, Chan­nel V and all these other mu­sic chan­nels didn’t so many years ago? Why did it take a brand like Coke (that wasn’t in any way ex­clu­sively linked to mu­sic) to bring out the avid mu­sic en­thu­si­asts of Pak­istan?

In­stead of in­vad­ing our liv­ing rooms and bom­bard­ing us with con­trived rea­sons to guz­zle down cola, they made the smart choice and gave Pak­ista­nis what they were look­ing for all along: qual­ity en­ter­tain­ment And they did so with­out the over­bear­ing prod­uct place­ment and com­mer­cial val­ues that au­di­ences have since grown to re­sent.

Were they the first brand to ever ride the mu­sic train? Cer­tainly not. But Coca-Cola stuck to its guns and cre­ated qual­ity con­tent that peo­ple have come to love pas­sion­ately.

Let’s face it, to­day Coke owns the mu­sic plat­form. Pepsi, Clear, Nescafe and more have all tried to fol­low suit but were met with lim­ited suc­cess.

Coke Stu­dio, on the other hand, has be­come a sta­ple of Pak­istani pop cul­ture and the fans can’t get enough. When they’re not glued to the TV watch­ing their fa­vorite acts, they’re al­most cer­tainly down­load­ing videos and MP3s of their fa­vorite per­for­mances online. Need­less to say, Coke Stu­dio’s dig­i­tal pres­ence has cat­a­pulted the brand right into the hearts, minds, phones and iPods of mil­lions of mu­sic lovers across the coun­try, which is more than most

brands achieve in a life­time. And just like the drink it­self, the show’s suc­cess has al­ready tran­scended borders, pick­ing up speed in In­dia and the Mid­dle East. They have even started their own ded­i­cated mu­sic chan­nel here in Pak­istan (take that MTV).

Shut up and lis­ten Look, it’s sim­ple. Peo­ple want to be en­ter­tained and new media av­enues such as tor­rents, online stream­ing and Ap­ple TV have em­pow­ered au­di­ences to se­lect the con­tent they want to see, when they want to see it, while skip­ping ads in the process. In­stead of cling­ing to the tra­di­tional mode of advertising, smart brands (like Coca-Cola) will learn to in­vest in be­com­ing part of that con­tent, gain­ing sub­stan­tial loy­alty along the way. Yes, print, ra­dio and TV are still very much alive, but why waste time and money fight­ing over col­umn space and air­time when au­di­ences are busy pur­su­ing their fa­vorite con­tent else­where?

The bot­tom line: if you want your brand to suc­ceed, stop in­ter­rupt­ing and start in­te­grat­ing. Take a page out of Coke’s book and learn to sit down, shut up, and let the mu­sic do the talk­ing. For all you know, to most peo­ple, your TV com­mer­cials are noth­ing more than a much-needed bath­room break.

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