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A panel of experts reveals how the mixture of celebrity and brands that teens like can turn into a success story.
LOS ANGELES — With celebrities making themselves more visible than ever, mixing fashion and entertainment to grab a teenager’s attention becomes more important.
This is especially true since 88 percent of teens feel they have an influence on the music world and 78 percent of them feel that they influence Hollywood, according to Laura McEwen, publisher of YM magazine. Overall, teens spend an average of 39 hours a week on some sort of entertainment. A panel of experts in the entertainment field revealed some of their success stories when it came to mixing the two markets.
Kenetta Bailey, vice president of strategic marketing, BMG
“Our strategy in the past did not include us targeting to teens,” said Bailey, who has worked with a series of performers under the BMG Entertainment umbrella, including Pink, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne and Usher. “Today, we are changing that strategy by turning to partnerships.”
For Bailey, there is no better way to reach teens through two of their favorite things: music and brands like Coke, Nokia and Ford.
“Teens know they are being marketed to,” she said. “So together it’s up to us to be relevant, real, refreshing and responsive.”
For example, Bailey noted a series of successful partnerships between her artists and other brands, such as the contest on Coke product labels that announced Coke drinkers could win the chance to meet Tyrese, a popular R&B star. Also, she has partnered with Nokia to offer special ring tones on the phones from singers in the BMG group, and had a deal with Ford Focus, where teens could go to the Web site and vote for which car should be in the second Isyss video.
“It doesn’t always have to be the biggest artist — they can be very expensive,” she stressed. “Ford wanted to partner with a group that wasn’t so known. This can help grow the Ford brand and the artist.”
Bailey also noted the importance of mall tours with developing artists, which many clothing brands sponsor because it gets teens into the mall to hear the music and shop in the same visit.
Michael Eaton, head, commercial enterprises, 19 Management, North America
For Eaton, his greatest success story so far has been the development of “American Idol,” but he also oversees all endorsement, sponsorship and merchandising activity for the company’s family of properties, which includes “Canadian Idol” and “All American Girl,” and recording artists Annie Lennox, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Tamyra Gray, Christina Christian and the new stars of “American Idol 2.”
While Eaton said he is always searching for new partners to help market his brands, his biggest supporter for “American Idol” has been Coke, which many may criticize as having too much of a presence on the set. The judges have a visible Coke glass in front of each of them every week and the company completely furnished and decorated the “Red Room” where the contestants can be seen prior to their performances. Besides Coke, Eaton said YM magazine, Ford, Mastercard and US Weekly magazine have all had a presence on the show.
“Each partner is planned out and nothing just slips into the show,” he said. “Some are meant to be more obvious, others are not.”
Matt Jacobson, vice president, Quiksilver Entertainment Division, Quiksilver Inc.
Quiksilver’s entertainment division has made it a goal to not only get the word out there about the Quiksilver brand, but to highlight the skate and surf sports in order to make them as important as any other sport featured on ESPN. The result? Quiksilver’s own original programming with the Fox Sports Network.
The show, “0-5-4-3-2-1″ airs on the network for 30 minutes and features all the news in surf and skate. It highlights up-and-comers in the sports, as well as established athletes.
“The idea is not to just profile Quiksilver. You will see people wearing other surf and skate brands besides ours,” Jacobson explained. “It’s really to get the sports out there.”
In other partnerships, Jacobson said he is in talks to debut a women’s surfing show on MTV and the company also just launched a Roxy cell phone with Boost Mobile.
Laura McEwen, publisher, YM magazine
YM magazine also partners with MTV to put out the YM MTV issue, which profiles a large amount of MTV’s programming, as well as allows VJs to come in as guest editors. In turn, YM editors are regularly appearing on TRL in a “crave-worthy” segment that profiles some of the hot trends in music and fashion.
Michael Wood, vice president, Teenage Research Unlimited
TRU’s Michael Wood set some guidelines before entering a partnership with another company:
Know what the brand means to teens. For example, if Britney Spears is the biggest star of the moment, but her image doesn’t fit the brand, do not use her.
Be pervasive in teen life.
Evolve the brand along with its message.
Take educated risks.
Stay attuned to teen trends.
Evaluate the brand’s success.