From exclusive CD compilations to snacks marketed under the name of a pop-recording sensation, marketers are pumping up the volume of their promotions.
General Mills, Kraft Foods North America, Kellogg Co., Georgia-Pacific Corp. and Brach's Confections are among the manufacturers that have formed relationships with some of the hottest names in the music business, ranging from Radio Disney to pop group *NSYNC to country vocalist Lee Ann Womack to R&B legend Gladys Knight & the Pips.
While largely used in the cereal aisle, music promotions are expanding into other areas of the supermarket, including the coffee and frozen pizza sections. Even paper goods are getting involved.
Consider Georgia-Pacific's music strategy. The Atlanta-based company has created a strong relationship between its Sparkle paper towel brand and Lee Ann Womack, who received the Country Music Association's 2001 Female Vocalist of the Year award. Along with being Womack's exclusive tour sponsor this year, the Sparkle brand has begun using her in print and television ads. Womack also will be the spokeswoman for Sparkle's annual Clean Hands Month in the fall, an initiative aimed at educating children about the health benefits of hand-washing.
Georgia-Pacific also is exploring a partnership with Womack's record company, MCA, surrounding the release of her next record. Other possibilities include an on-pack sweepstakes offer, which would put Womack's image on millions of Sparkle packages, and perhaps a CD sampler.
"Music is a very powerful medium," said Steven Sage, director of consumer promotions, Georgia-Pacific. "It forms a strong connection to a retail purchase."
While music has long been used as a promotional tool in supermarkets, it's being taken to new heights now that other retail channels -- like Starbuck's, Pottery Barn and Victoria's Secret -- have used it successfully by marketing their own CD compilations.
Whereas in the past, music promotions would only feature B-list artists, today's most popular stars are eager to participate, said Shelli Hill, senior director, sales and marketing, EMI Capital Special Markets. This is a big change from the early 1990s, when many bands steered away from such relationships because they viewed them as being too capitalistic.
"Today's music environment is so competitive that exposure is important," Hill said. "Being featured on a cereal box is no longer viewed as a negative."
Music marketing comes in all forms: Web events, tour sponsorships, sweepstakes, in/on-pack premiums, games and advertisements. But
CD giveaways have been particularly attractive these days.
Such promotions range from the simple to the elaborate. Some marketers offer free CDs either directly in/on product packaging or through a mail-in offer. Others charge a nominal fee for a CD merchandised near the product itself.
Such was the case for an exclusive compilation that Kraft's, Northfield, Ill., offered in celebration of Black History Month in February. Called "Women of the Times," the CD featured 10 classic songs from female recording artists such as Erykah Badu, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight & The Pips and Sarah Vaughan.
Linda Crowder, senior director and multicultural marketing manager, Kraft Foods, said the CD was a way for Kraft to honor African-American women. She noted that Kraft products have had an important place in the kitchens of African-American consumers.
"This promotion celebrates African-American women -- the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and wives who have nurtured and nourished our families," Crowder said.
Each CD was offered for $2.99 with the purchase of three Kraft products. It was available in nearly 1,700 supermarkets in seven regions: Atlanta, Baltimore/D.C., Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and New York.
Songs included Sarah Vaughan's '50s rendition of George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Please Mr. Postman" from The Marvelettes, "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" from Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" from Gladys Knight & The Pips.
Kraft donated $80,000 from a portion of CD sales to the United Negro College Fund. Some participating retailers also donated proceeds to local charities.
While Kraft is still evaluating the promotion, consumer response exceeded expectations, according to Lynne Galia, senior manager, corporate affairs.
"Music is very popular with consumers," Galia noted.
General Mills, Minneapolis, recognizes this as well. This past holiday season, three hour-long holiday music CDs were attached to select boxes of Rice Chex, Corn Chex and Wheat Chex cereals. One featured pianist Lorie Line and her Pop Chamber Orchestra playing holiday favorites such as "Away in a Manger" and "Joy to the World"; another highlighted jazz group Moore By Four singing 11 wintertime tunes; and one featured 20 holiday classics by performers like Perry Como and Gladys Knight & the Pips.
While manufacturers are often the ones initiating music relationships, more record companies are making the first move. In doing so, they can reach population segments that may not be going into record stores, said Stuart Sullivan, manager, new business development, Universal Music Group's Special Markets, Santa Monica, Calif., which handled Kraft's "Women of the Times" CD.
"Music is an integral part of society; people have an emotional response to it," he said.
This seems to be perfectly clear to Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich., which is actively engaged in music marketing. This summer, for instance, Kellogg's will include a character-specific music CD on the package of its new Disney cereals: Mickey's Magix, Hunny Bs and Buzz Blasts.
The CD will be worth about $5. Kellogg declined to elaborate on the promotion.
The Disney campaign comes at a time when is Kellogg relying heavily on music promotions. For instance, consumers who currently buy Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats cereal get a preview of Radio Disney's Music Mix Studio CD-ROM.
Inside each package is a $3 coupon for the full version of the Music Mix, which lets kids record music jams and vocal tracks, add backgrounds and animation, and e-mail music videos to friends and family. Featured artists include Myra and Lil'J.
On the back, youngsters are encouraged to get the full version at www.disneyinteractive.com or a game retailer. Kellogg also offered a country music compilation CD through a mail-in offer on specially marked boxes of Kellogg's cereals. Produced in part by BMG Special Products, New York, a producer of music-based premiums and incentives, the "Driving 'Em Crazy" promotion offered one of three free CDs via a mail-in offer. Over 40 million boxes of specially marked Kellogg's cereals -- including Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes and Mini-Wheat brands -- were emblazoned with images of participating country music stars, including Martina McBride, Sara Evans and the band Three of Hearts.
Overall, marketers are getting much more deeply involved with country music through tour sponsorships, sweepstakes, compilation CDs and co-branded inserts that promote a packaged goods product, according to Rick Murray, senior director of strategic marketing, Country Music Association, the Nashville-based trade association for country music artists.
He said country music artists are easy to work with and fully embrace products they're paid to support.
"Most won't endorse a product that they don't fully believe in," Murray said, noting that Womack actually uses Sparkle paper towels.
Womack's relationship with Sparkle began four years ago with a freestanding insert promoting her as the "spokesmom" for Sparkle. The partnership grew the next year when Sparkle consumers could enter a contest to attend the CMA awards.
Last year, Sparkle began using Womack in all its FSIs. It also sponsored Womack's holiday tour and launched its first television ad featuring the singer, according to Sage. Sparkle is the only brand that Georgia-Pacific has linked to music. The reason for this is based on Georgia-Pacific's demographic research showing that consumers who buy Sparkle are also country music listeners. Additionally, about 70% of country music sales occur at Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target, said Sage. Since Sparkle sales are strong for these retailers, especially Wal-Mart, it decided country music was the way to go.
"Unlike its major competitors, Sparkle has a fairly low brand awareness," said Sage. "Using a spokesperson like Lee Ann Womack helps get Sparkle noticed."
Brach's is hoping pop group *NSYNC will do the same for its Hot Hits fruit snacks. The company is marketing an *NSYNC version of the fruit snacks. All five members of the band are featured on front of the product package, which reads, "Hot Hits featuring *NSYNC."
The 8-ounce package contains eight pouches emblazoned with the names of the band members and some of their most popular songs. Each package contains a variety of snack flavors, including a special, filled heart marked with the name of one of the band members. Buyers also get a free collectible backstage pass.