What Do Beethoven and John Lennon Have In Common? | DMA

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What Do Beethoven and John Lennon Have In Common?


It’s fascinating if you stop and think about the role that music plays in everyone’s lives, not just in the auditory sense, but also anthropologically and linguistically. Music’s importance in human culture has stood the test of time, evolving through centuries of stylistic and socio-cultural change. In many cases, whether directly or indirectly, music has been used to affect the way we interact and transact with each other. There are countless books on Music Psychology and Sociology which highlight this, but I think a good summary of the application of music to human behaviour comes from Beethoven:

Music is the electric soil in which the spirit thinks, lives and invents. All that's electrical stimulates the mind... I am electrical by nature.

Beethoven would have been a great modern-day marketer, aligning music with as precious a commodity as electricity! The phrase does ring true in today’s terms, though. Here’s how:

‘Music’ can be taken literally as a commodity, and as an auditory communication of a message;

‘Electrical soil’ and ‘all that’s electrical’ can be a stimulus or vessel bringing music to a public, such as marketing;

‘Spirit’ can reflect the human psyche (a person’s conscious/unconscious mind and unique outward personality);

We’ll refer to this as the ‘Beethoven model’. (Which would have been music to his ears, apart from the fact that he was deaf. Anyway, another time...)

Let’s move away from music in the literal sense, and focus on its capacity to affect human behaviour in marketing. The above will factor in, though. It’s not as simple as saying that using happy music in an ad will make people happy and reach for their wallets. Rather, it’s more about understanding music’s role in helping to convey messages which make creative used in content marketing contextual, engaging, and sticky. These three elements are key to affecting behavioural responses to advertising, be it generating affinities with a brand, likelihood to disseminate content, and/or make purchasing decisions (the goals are limitless).

Maintaining continued digital engagement with audiences is something many marketers state as one of their biggest challenges today. I’ve been there, asking myself questions which may sound all too familiar: ‘is this 20 second ad going to react well on social?’; ‘how can I increase shareability?’; ‘is this content engaging enough to stop people skipping the pre-roll?’ Granted, these are important questions, but there is another very important consideration.

‘How does my day-to-day mood affect my personal interactions with content on my feeds?’

Focus groups will help only to a certain extent. It’s when I started asking myself the above question more insistently that my marketing campaigns began to speak less about my industry, but conversed more with people’s thoughts. I used music here to help

Check out Zone Out. It’s a campaign I created which curates a musical experience based purely on a person’s mood. It’s neither artist or genre-centric, it’s user-centric, ergonomic. The marketing focus for this campaign was creating a synergy with paid social, PPC, pre-roll and the universal concept of chilling out (whatever that involves). A detailed remarketing mechanism meant that only music and video vignettes from recently visited parts of the website would be served as ads at specific times of the day to people. Shareability and engagement was high, a mini-movement was founded, and for a few people at least - a little comfy haven of zen goodness was created. The content used simple visuals, little to no text, the music spoke for itself; promoting adoption of the service without being too invasive.

Circling back on the Beethoven model, the takeaway point is that for content marketing (that electrical soil) to be truly effective, it doesn’t need to shout so much. Do you really need that much text on the screen, for example? Instead, it just needs to be more deeply rooted in human urges (and for that, music plays just as important a part as visuals, facial expressions, etc.) Granted, there is a lot of noise, and brands need to maintain a decent presence online, but content marketing should converse with more basic human drivers. These are more likely to promote reactions. It’s simple, really, but sometimes we need a reminder.

At this stage, you’re probably wondering how John Lennon figures in this. OK, I’ll admit it, a slightly tenuous link! The connection comes from Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. There’s a quote of Ono’s which really fits into the discussion of music’s affecting properties:

‘People make music to get a reaction. Music is communication.’

Thanks Yoko, I think both Beethoven and marketers alike would certainly agree with your sentiments.

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