The New York Times
This article highlights the ways in which marketers and media companies are changing the ways in which they do business together, as exemplified by Music Beast’s work for the Tanqueray campaign.
November 3, 2005
Liquor Ads Move to Satellite Radio
By STUART ELLIOTT
SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO is joining the growing ranks of media outlets that accept liquor advertising, as it begins running musical commercials for
The commercials consist of a hip-hop song titled “Get Your Ice On,” which can also be heard on several Web sites sponsored by Tanqueray. The spots, at
two and a half minutes long, are running on Sirius channels like Cracked Up Comedy, Maxim Radio, OutQ Radio and Sports Byline.
The commercials are part of a campaign centered on music for Tanqueray, sold by Diageo. It began in April with a new brand character, a wry British bon
vivant named Tony Sinclair, portrayed by an actor named Rodney Mason.
Neither Sirius Satellite Radio nor its rival, XM Satellite Radio, carries commercials on any of its scores of music channels. Both carry spots on most of their
talk, sports, news and entertainment channels, although there are fewer commercials than during a typical hour on a traditional, or terrestrial, radio station.
XM already accepts liquor advertising, said Chance Patterson, a company spokesman, and has run commercials for brands like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee
whiskey, sold by a unit of Brown-Forman.
The arrival of liquor advertising on Sirius is emblematic of how the relationships between marketers and media companies are being transformed as
consumers embrace new options like satellite radio.
For instance, Heavy.com, a Web site with a youthful audience, plans to announce today that it will provide the first advertising-supported clips for the new
video iPod being sold by Apple Computer. As visitors to Heavy.com download free video clips from the “Must Stream TV” section of the Web site, they
will see on their computer screens a “skin,” or frame, bearing the Burger King slogan, “Have it your way,” and the Burger King logo.
“These days, the media are as important as the message,” said Chris Parsons, a vice president for marketing at Diageo in New York, particularly in reaching
“the leading-edge consumer” who is an early adopter of new technologies.
In starting to accept commercials for distilled spirits, Sirius joins a lengthening list of media outlets. Only the six big national networks – ABC, CBS, Fox,
NBC, UPN and WB – still refuse to run liquor spots.
Under voluntary policies that dated to the start of radio and television, liquor makers refrained from running commercials on those media. But in 1996, when
Seagram began to defy the ban, some stations and networks started taking liquor spots with some stipulations like requiring entreaties to drink responsibly.
Liquor makers, in turn, adopted stipulations as they arrived on television and radio. Mr. Parsons said that Diageo had a policy calling for its commercials to
appear only on programs where 75 percent or more of the listeners were 21 or older.
Diageo turned to Sirius for the campaign, Mr. Parsons said, because it wanted to run the song commercial for two and a half minutes; traditional radio
stations and networks generally do not accept spots longer than 60 seconds. Other Tanqueray commercials of conventional length run on terrestrial stations in
cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
“We wanted to get the song on the radio, but we ran into a brick wall with terrestrial radio,” said Glenn Porter, vice president and creative director at the
Tanqueray agency, Grey Worldwide in New York, part of the Grey Global Group division of the WPP Group.
“Satellite radio is a little new, offbeat,” Mr. Porter said, “and we wanted a way to bring the consumer to the brand in a cool, offbeat way.”
The “Get Your Ice On” song was written and produced in a collaboration between Grey’s internal music department and Music Beast, a music production
company in New York. The song, which Grey calls a “brand track,” is one of many being created for commercials, a trend known as branded entertainment.
For example, the Troy, Mich., office of BBDO Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group, joined with a company called JSM Music to create a song,
“Unleashed,” that is featured in a commercial for the Dodge Charger. The song, a so-called mash-up of two tunes, “Hair of the Dog” by Nazareth and “Live
and Loose” by Chris Classic, has also been released as a single and a music video – featuring the Charger, natch – and is to be included on a coming album
by Chris Classic.
“The secret recipe to this is, rather than blabbing at people for 30 seconds or 60 seconds, we’re giving them music that is not heavily branded,” said Mr.
Porter of Grey.
“I think brands can leverage all areas of entertainment to deliver a message so long as it’s an organic fit,” he added. “The song is a way to draw the
consumer to the brand rather than trying to chase them down.”
The “Get Your Ice On” commercial began on six Sirius channels on Oct. 17 and is scheduled to run through Nov. 12. There are discussions about having it
continue through the holiday season, said Sam Benrubi, senior vice president for advertising sales at Sirius in New York.
“In the environs of Maxim Radio and the other channels, it sounds good,” Mr. Benrubi said. “The spot is engaging, with a very light brand sell. It was just
Mr. Benrubi and the ad sales department are making plans to recruit sponsors for Howard Stern when he joins Sirius in January.
“His show will have a noticeably lighter commercial load than when he’s on terrestrial radio,” Mr. Benrubi said, “about 50 percent less.”
In addition to Sirius, the Tanqueray song can be heard on and downloaded from Tanqueray Web sites like tanqueray.com and getyouriceon.com. About
30,000 copies of the song on CD’s are being given away at performances by the comedian Mike Epps on a national tour through January that is being
sponsored by Tanqueray.
Grey and Diageo plan to add an additional Web site, tanqueraytracks.com, on Nov. 14, which will offer a series of brand-track songs, including a holiday
“Get Your Ice On” is also on a Web site, fauxbandnames.com, developed for a promotion with Yahoo, and can be downloaded from ad banners appearing in
the music section of yahoo.com. The Tanqueray songs are by Music Beast; Josh Rabinowitz, senior vice president and music director at Grey; and Jared
Schlemovitz, a music producer at Grey who is credited as “JSchlem.”