Much extensions stick to musical roots

Much Dance and Big Shiny Tunes...

Much Dance and Big Shiny Tunes

Much Dance was first released in 1992 as Much Dance Mix and has consistently topped the charts each year since then. Five years ago, Big Shiny Tunes – a compilation targeting alternative music fans – was launched.

The broadcaster partners with record labels to create the Much-branded CDs, which are sold in virtually every music store across the country. They are advertised on Much and other stations in the CHUM Specialty Television stable with support from some outside media buys.

While only the MuchMusic brand is evident on the CDs, advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Panasonic and Hershey get involved by building promotions around the CD titles. This gives them an opportunity to tie the high-awareness of Much Dance and Big Shiny Tunes to their brands with contests involving CD giveaways and trips to concerts.

MuchMusic Video Dance Party

In the mid-80s MuchMusic decided to take its brand on the road and into high schools, colleges and community centres from Victoria, B.C. to Newfoundland. Fifteen vans are now sprinkled across the country, equipped with everything needed to stage a high-energy dance party.

For the past five years, Hershey brand Oh Henry has been the main sponsor of all of the dance parties. Hershey has banner signage at each dance along with sampling of its products, and raffles and prizes are part of the activities. The Video Dance Party is promoted 44 weeks a year on Much.

Muchmusic.com

Muchmusic.com was one of the first broadcaster Web sites to hit the Internet, in 1995. The site features online support for all of the MuchMusic programming and provides additional depth of content on shows that only the Web makes possible. It also has Web-only content and allows visitors to listen to music and sample videos online.

Branded merchandise

MuchMusic sells everything from branded nail polish and lip-gloss to key chains, knapsacks, hats, T-shirts and snow globes in the CHUMCity store located next to the main building in Toronto.

Over the years a number of retailers have tried selling MuchMusic branded merchandise, but Susan Arthur, director of marketing for CHUM Specialty Television, says those ventures were never very successful. She says that buying a T-shirt in a shopping mall hasn’t got the same cachet as buying merchandise while attending a live concert or a television show.

Strategy

MuchMusic didn’t quite stumble into its brand extensions, but there was a lengthy process of growing, evolving and understanding brand equity.

‘It all began in 1992,’ says Arthur. ‘What was MuchMusic’s biggest equity? Well, hello – it’s music! We could try to launch a loaf of bread with our name on it, or a pack of gum but the reality is that viewers come to us as their source for music.’

Arthur says that everything Much does, from the compilation CDs to the Video Dance Party, is in keeping with the credibility and integrity of the station – it’s all about the music.

When it comes to the web, Heather Gordon, sales manager for CHUMCity Interactive, says the same philosophies and strategies for the on-air product are taken online. ‘CHUM by its very nature has been an interactive organization – and by that I don’t mean the Internet. With our street front/store front accessibility, the MuchMusic environment, the lack of any structured news environment, the Web site always made so much sense and was such an easy fit.’

MuchMusic is not even considering videos and books, simply because of the major issues around royalties and copyrights, but over the past 10 years, several magazine publishers have expressed interest in publishing a branded magazine for the broadcaster.

So far, Much won’t bite – Arthur says she’d be worried that the station would be getting away from what it does best. ‘I guess we’re a little bit nervous. We don’t want to fail because MuchMusic has such a high profile of credibility within our target demographic that if we did something that sucked, that could potentially be really damaging.’

Results

MuchMusic has sold over nine million copies of the two CDs. Arthur says they are the top selling compilations in Canada and they historically rate in the top three on the charts when they’re released just prior to Christmas each year.

The MuchMusic Video Dance Party does about 1,100 dances a year with an average of 400 people per dance.

On a monthly basis, muchmusic.com generates approximately 6.7 million impressions. A report released by Youth Culture last year ranked the MuchMusic site as the number-one teen destination in Canada.

The future

Arthur says that no new brand extensions have been finalized as yet, but MuchMusic is working on a venture with a music retailer that would cross platforms from on-air, to online and in-store.

Buyers’ comments

Kevin Brault, manager of media buying for Due North Communications in Toronto, has done a lot of integrated campaign work with MuchMusic for clients. He says that everything MuchMusic does from a consumer perspective is very positive – it’s strong, consistent and links everything back to the brand.

‘Kids, tweens, teens and young adults all know the brand,’ he says. ‘It is identified immediately by the young target you’re trying to reach – 12 to 24. When you hook up with MuchMusic, it’s cool so your product is cool.’

Amanda Ploughman, EVP and managing director of Initiative Media Toronto has also done a lot of work with Much, especially for Disney.

‘We worked with them on the movie Gone in 60 Seconds in December and I think it was one of the most successful promotions they’d ever had.’

Ploughman rates MuchMusic as a solid 4 or 4.5. ‘There are a few broadcasters that I think are very good at building a brand rather than selling the programs on their station. I think YTV is one of them, and MuchMusic obviously. It registers immediately with the viewer or consumer.’