Marketing Music-How Heineken, Coca-Cola, and Beefeater Connected With Consumers Through Song

“Audio is the most intimate medium,” Sarah Koenig, co-creator of “Serial”said at the recent Cannes Lions festival. It’s true of the podcast, and of music as well. Even as the popularity of visual marketing rises, music-based campaigns are proving they can engage consumers in a cluttered, omnichannel world. The format has the capacity to communicate authenticity and stick with listeners, and brands have come a long way from the jingles of days gone by.

Heineken’s Soundtrack for a City

For the past twenty years, musician James Murphy has had an offbeat idea to incorporate music into New York City’s subway turnstiles. He wants to give commuters a unique experience, and each station its own “sonic identity.” But in order to execute the project across the New York City subway system he needs support.

Enter Heineken and a new digital campaign. The beer brand is working with Murphy – and agency Wieden+Kennedy New York – to drum up support and is documenting the quest with a series of online videos, :30 and :60 second digital spots, a social media campaign using the hashtag #SubwaySymphony, and a website. It’s part of a greater brand campaign called Heineken Cities that includes photo-based city guides made up of curated content and city-specific bottles in 14 select markets.

“I want to turn the cacophony of the subway into unique pieces of music. It might seem like a small thing, but that’s exactly the point,” Murphy said. For Heineken, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to improving America’s cities and leave an indelible mark on the young, urban consumers that make up part of its target audience. “Heineken has deep roots in the music community, and it’s a natural fit to marry our love of music and musicians with our love of great cities around the globe,” said Ralph Rijks, vice president of marketing at Heineken USA of the Subway Symphony project, which is live now.

Making Music for a Cause

Coca-Cola was on the receiving end of some positive word of mouth recently when its musical 1907s TV spot “Hilltop” was fortuitously featured in the series finale of “Mad Men.” Indeed, Coke has a long history with music that extends to its current campaign. To celebrate this year’s Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, the company – founding partner and global sponsor of the Special Olympics – is behind the star-studded song that will be performed at this year’s Games. The brand has already launched a video for “Reach Up” that’s being promoted on social media.

For every video share using the #ReachUp hashtag, Coca-Cola will donate a dollar to the Special Olympics. It’s an exercise in social good that, in turn, stands to generate brand affinity and positive word of mouth.

Mapping London’s Music Culture

Spotify has proven its worth to brands with a slew of new ad product offerings, but gin brand Beefeater’s partnership with the music streaming service takes a different tack. Accompanied by a limited edition promotional bottle, Beefeater this month launched the interactive Beefeater London Sounds Map, which consumers can use to explore London’s “rich musical heritage.” When users click map locations they can hear snippets of songs from musical genres related to various areas and events spanning the last century. Sound experiences can be personalized to each user’s tastes, and full tracks – along with videos and interviews – are available on Spotify.


Whether brands are hoping to strengthen their relationship with music enthusiasts or create an earworm that potential customers will (happily) remember, music is becoming the medium of choice. It’s digital, it’s social…and it deserves some “play” in your next campaign.

*Homepage via shutterstock.

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