January 31st , 2016

Penned by Chief Strategy Officer Dave Corelli.
Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.

In last week's post, I discussed the position that marketing as we know and knew it is gone.

That we need to stop advertising, marketing, engaging and activating - and we need to start integrating. Give people things they will love. Help them be the person they want to be.

(If you missed last week's post, you can read it here)

Those are nice words. But really...what the hell does that mean?

Just as with every strategy, words are completely useless without action. Great execution will always trump strategy. Results will always be what really matters.

So this week, I'm taking a dive into one of the most apparent integration trends happening right now - music. Most prominently, via Spotify.

I've always been a huge proponent of a music integration strategy. Music has always been something that people personally connect with. Like DNA, no person's personal favourites are alike. Music helps us feel more. Feel less. Say things we couldn't say. Not need to say anything at all. Find the courage to run that last mile. Find the inspiration to unleash something inside of us.

Music is a place people choose to live their lives. That they build into the definition of who they are.

When Uber was first to launch a music integration platform - which allowed riders to choose their own Spotify songs and playlist while they rode in the back seat of their personally-summoned rides - I was all over it. A brilliant partnership in my mind that was really a joint venture - it helped Uber solidify its position as an innovative, rider-first platform, while helping Spotify grow its brand and user base. Win x2.

Then telecommunications started getting in to the mix, embedding Spotify or other content streaming into their mobile phone plans (T-Mobile, Rogers). Intriguing to see the trend continuing, no less from a category that is not one heralded for it's innovation. Sweet still.

The seed started to spread. It wasn't long before I had noticed at least a dozen brands that had leveraged music integration, ranging from curated playlists to free premium memberships or unlimited streaming.

The latest brand to throw its hat in the music integration ring - Starbucks. On January 19th, the company announced it had partnered with Spotify. At 7,500 US stores, 10 million Starbucks Rewards members and Spotify Users can, in their words, "discover, save and take curated Starbucks content with them."

But my enthusiasm has started to wear thin. Another Spotify integration? Yes, Starbucks has been a pioneer in the music space for years. Arguably, they are on brand that has a true right to own this space. This iteration has some unique features others don't have, like the ability to identify the song playing overhead in store, and to "love" songs to effect future Starbucks playlists.

But still, my soul hurt a little. Somewhere along the way, I worry we lost the strategy kernel - integration, giving people something they want - and started to build a bandwagon.

We need to applaud the innovators in this space. The brands that have pushed technology to be able to deliver people something delightful. However, I think there are three key lessons we should learn before this trend begins to roll out to every brand that feels music integration is the silver bullet answer.

First, we need to remember it's about people first - It is not just about music streaming - that's not a one size fits all strategy. When announcements start to roll out, I worry that the brainstorm went something like - "Hey, this Spotify thing is really popular. We do a lot in music. People love music. We HAVE to do this!" This puts us back at thinking about us first, about our brand and our objectives. We can't do that. We have for too long. We need to start with the person - who are they? What do they love? What would they love more of? Then find where we fit. Empathy is our greatest tool.

Second, we need to zoom out from music and embrace the much broader bucket of content as an integration opportunity. Music, shows, movies, documentaries, books, articles, blogs, live sports, performances - these are all things people want more of. When we explore the spectrum of content mixed with people's desires, we open up a world of different places we can play.

Finally, let's always strive to be innovators. The first time we come across something like this, it's unique and share worthy. The fifth time, as cool as the strategy may be, it loses it's luster if we are seen to be jumping on a bandwagon.

So keep pushing. Keep integrating. Keep challenging ourselves to find ways to enable our consumer's lives. But always find ways that make it uniquely their (and our) own.

Until next week.

/ Corelli

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Dave Corelli is Chief Strategy Officer of SportBox Group, a global entertainment agency with verticals in strategic consulting, personality representation, and event creation and ownership. Corelli oversees business and creative strategy globally for the agency, its consulting clients, athletes and events. Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.