What can a brand do with an app that “just makes playlists”? Well, as it turns out, a lot! The rise of Spotify as an advertising platform by brands isn’t new. However, the use of it in different ways is definitely interesting and most certainly worth exploring, especially when most marketers’ choice of social media strategy still remains Facebook and Instagram (with TikTok thrown in here and there). We know Spotify exists; we know its capabilities. Yet, it continues to be a hidden treasure, full of innovation and possibilities.
Globally, Spotify is being leveraged in several interesting ways, making the marketing mix a lot less conventional – and a lot more engaging. There are four broad buckets which define the usage of Spotify by brands:
Type one: The quintessential brand advertisement
This bucket may seem like the first step that a brand can take in to the world of Spotify but it has the ability to go beyond mere display ads. If you’re a brand that is as loved as KFC, why not leverage on it and take that love one step further? KFC France’s "Bucket Bangers" is a great example that pays tribute to hip hop tracks that have referenced the brand through the years. And if being referenced 46 times isn’t testament to brand love, then I don’t know what is! Obviously, this gave KFC a chance to make a very lengthy playlist out of this.
Type two: Making the world of the brand come alive
This is a great way to establish a brand’s identity, set the brand’s mood and tone and, in some cases, even its philosophy. Essentially, this bucket helps to build a certain resonance and sentiment towards a brand even when you’re not directly engaging with it. If the brand is all about positivity, then that’s the kind of playlist to expect. If it is about energising you or getting you to work out, then that’s the kind of playlist a brand would build.
Previously, fashion brands such as H&M and Pull & Bear have used this platform as part of their content strategy. The aim was to popularise the ambience and image of their brands, using alternative and indie music via collaborations – be it festivals such as Coachella, or artists like Jamie XX and Beach House. Even luxury brands such as Prada dropped a playlist on Spotify inspired by its spring-summer collection in 2020 to get consumers immersed in the brand.
Type three: Using Spotify to establish a brand's utility
This is a bucket that definitely has a lot of room to play with, especially when utility has become so key to consumers today. A recent example (also one that inspired me to write this article) is of Barilla, the pasta brand.
The brand teamed up with Spotify to create eight playlists that that lasts as long as it takes for your pasta to cook – be it spaghetti, linguine, fusilli or penne. Today, brands are keen to double the value – the value of the product/service, and on top of that, the value of additional utility. This is a prime example of a brand going beyond its core function and providing ancillary value to customers through innovative means.
Another form of utility is through education – consumers also tap onto Spotify podcasts to gain access to more information and education about a category/industry they previously had lesser knowledge of. For example, HSBC Business Talks is a podcast series hosted by HSBC experts that provide perspectives on the Asia-Pacific market and its developments.
Type four: Using Spotify podcasts to build communities
Podcasts are well-known as a method for brands to build a more intimate experience with a consumer giving them elevated levels of attention and engagement. Whether you’re a music geek or you want motivation to exercise or even love to knit, there’s a podcast which caters to your niche needs. Moreover, this helps build communities where listeners can bond with brands based on their interests. For example, Sonos, the home audio brand, engaged music lovers through their podcast called "Dissect". Using host reads, Dissect deconstructs and analyses classic albums and songs to help music geeks foster their love and fandom.
Similarly, New Amsterdam Vodka created their branded podcast series called "Ebb & Flow" hosted by Jasmine Solano, an accomplished musician and influencer. The podcast series speaks candidly with hip-hop artists about their music journey and hustle, bringing together a micro-community of hip-hop music lovers.
Yes, Spotify is essentially a playlist app. And yes, it has podcasts. But more importantly, it is a portal full of possibilities. It’s exciting to see how brands are using Spotify as a medium to go beyond the regular display ads and partnerships. In a world where more and more people want less and less screen time, using this platform gives brands access to consumers especially when they’re mobile. Practically speaking, there is no reason for brands not to be on Spotify anymore. In other words, it can truly be the marketing sweet spot(ify)!
The writer is Aditi Anand, senior planner, TBWA\ Malaysia. None of the brands mentioned work with TBWA\.
Photo courtesy: 123RF