When launching the Taycan, Porsche’s first all electric sports car, creative agency Grabarz & Partner developed a clever music driven script that shows a warehouse of classic Porsche models jamming to music through their car stereos. The film was going to be used for the first ever trade show launch as well as online.
The music supervision task was to identify and secure a classic rock guitar riff that is as iconic as Porsche car designs.
Scripting to a famous song is extremely popular and effective, but always brings in additional risks. The music rights to famous songs are typically owned by wealthy artists who are conscious about their public perception and represented by sophisticated major labels and publishers well experienced in maximizing revenues of their biggest assets.
In addition, non-broadcast/ web only brand films are one of the largest challenges in music licensing today. For a brand, a web only film typically involves much less media spending than a TV commercial, as digital communication is being spread out across many more audiovisual content pieces. Meanwhile, a music rights holder typically prices usage fees according to the scope of media, territory and term duration and they are always expecting a minimum fee to grant permission to a brand to use the song. Furthermore, virtually all car brands often have broad standard buyout briefings for their general projects that increase the fee beyond what is necessary for an individual films usage.
The initial collection of tracks also included several artists who, in our experience, have never or very rarely approved the use of their music in commercials. While any “normal” license request would be immediately denied, very creative film concepts or unique and product launches in our experience justify trying to get permission for “unclearable” songs and we were able to enter into advanced conversations for most of the songs we had in mind.
What was clear is that the film needed a famous riff to work so there was no potential fallback for securing a license to an iconic track within the client’s budget. In addition, licensing only the copyright and creating a cover, a popular way to save the costs for the license of the recording, would not work with the message of vintage originals. Porsche wanted the real thing.
In order to stay in control of the process, we decided that we need to have enough alternatives that the agency and client would agree that they work 100% with the film. Out of the many potential options, six tracks were picked which received an internal ranking by the client that we could pursue:
As standard buyouts were very costly, we created a rights matrix with four different alternative buyout packages, based on experience and practicality. We then asked for artist approval for all of the tracks prior to the shoot so we knew for sure what our options were and felt comfortable that the idea could be executed as planned.
Eventually, the client decided to go for You Really Got Me by The Kinks:
The campaign won a Bronze for Best Use Of Music at New York Festivals.
Using famous music in a brand film always brings unique challenges. The three success factors we identified are starting early, having agreed-on alternatives at all times and thinking of optional buyout packages to make sure you only pay for what you will need.
Get In Touch
Do you have a music strategy, research, production or any other music need for your commercials you would like to discuss? Our music supervisors are happy to have a chat!