CMA Awards Advertisers Opportunity for Artists, Labels

It’s much easier to sell someone who’s already your customer, and many of America’s biggest corporations just invested millions of dollars in country music.

If you’re a country artist, manager, or label, you might be able to approach these same companies as possible investors or business partners for your music.

The corporations we’re talking about are the firms that bought the pricey, prime-time ads during the Nov. 10 CMA Awards Show telecast. Just about all of us on the Row and at radio watch the show – or are in the audience at the Bridgestone Arena – but it’s vitally important to know who sponsored it.

TV advertising for awards shows is packaged in what are called “ad blocks” – groups of several ads of varying lengths that appear several times each hour in the 3-hour broadcast.

The very first block at the CMAs led off, fittingly, with an ad from Chevy Trucks. No company has been more prominent in CMA telecasts in recent years than Chevrolet.

That may make a perfect opportunity for you and your music. Maybe you could approach your local Chevy or Chevy trucks dealer and thank them for their sponsorship of the CMAs. Then you could pitch the dealer on having you do a performance or a live radio remote at their dealership.

That would give the Chevy dealer a chance to draw more people into his lot, and give you a chance to expand your audience. You likely wouldn’t be able to charge the dealer much for your show, but you could certainly sell a boatload of CDs and merch. Besides, it would be in the dealer’s best interest to promote your show as a special event, and that helps you expand your brand to a demographic that clearly gets and loves country music.

Olay, Progresso, Best Buy, and J.C. Penney were also featured in that opening ad block. Again, opportunities abound with those companies. Best Buy and J.C. Penney are giant retailers who rely on the Christmas season for a huge chunk of their annual sales. How about approaching those stores in your area about doing an in-store appearance?

Even though country has radio has traditionally drawn a female-based audience that is a little older than other formats – the so-called “Soccer Mom” audience – the advertisers are also investing in country’s growing interest among other segments as well. The Toys’R’Us and Friskies Cat Food ads in the third commercial block obviously targeted females and moms, but another advertiser there was the Apple iPad. Tech products typically are targeted more at male and younger auds.

Again, think of the chances that may give you, your station, or your artist. Seen how many cell phone stores have popped up around town lately? Even Wal-Mart, which traditionally a huge biz partner for country, was a company whose only ad at the CMAs this year was about portable phone service.

Could you do a live remote at a new cell phone store? Lord knows, they’re busy places nowadays as everybody wants to see and buy the new phones and the new apps. And check out a big-box retailer who bought a ton of CMA ads when Wal-Mart didn’t. That would be Target.

Like Chevy, Target not only bought the ads but produced several customized for a country audience. One Target ad featured Keith Urban backstage. Various Chevy ads included Hank Williams’s “Move It On Over” and even the vintage country classic “You Are My Sunshine,” which was written in 1940 by Jimmie Davis, who scored 5 Top 10 country hits between 1944 and 1948, while he was Governor of Louisiana.

These custom ads cost far more to create than a stock ad that Chevy or Target already had in the can. That’s big bucks. So as we often say to those who feel the music business is in desperate trouble, the fact is that the money is still out there. It’s your job to find it, since the record companies that used to be the storehouse of so much music financing can no longer foot that bill.

Target even featured a custom ad for the new Taylor Swift album, a spot that ran moments after Taylor’s live performance on the CMAs. Again, classy advertising and great planning by the CMA, the artist, her label, and by Target. And even though it’s far easier for Taylor to attract Target interest and bucks than for a new artist, the fact that Target has already invested big bucks in the country format make them an easier sell than a non-CMA advertiser.

Finally, CMA advertisers later in the show like the AT&T Windows Phone or even Victoria’s Secret could well provide some creative marketing opportunities for your music. And the number of awards shows on TV seems to increase each year. Another country awards show – this one on FOX – the brand-new American Country Awards on Dec. 6.


Feb. 13 – GRAMMY Awards, Los Angeles

March 2-4 – CRS 2011, Nashville Convention Center