How Smirnoff puts music in the spotlight

The Sound Collective program features Toronto artists and brings them to communities across the country.

The latest execution in Smirnoff’s Sound Collective music platform is putting the focus on Toronto musicians as the program continues to drive support for Canadian artists on the ground from coast to coast – and all their fans in between.

Debuting earlier this week, the documentary “Leap” spotlights electronic duo Zeds Dead and tells their story of coming up in the city’s music scene and getting attention on the international stage. It also tells the story of their efforts to parlay their success into the launch of their own record label, and how Toronto influenced their entrepreneurial spirit and approach to their art.

While part of a global campaign, the documentary is being promoted locally through a paid spend on the Smirnoff Sound Collective Canada Facebook and Instagram channels, as well as through Zeds Dead’s own YouTube and social platforms.

Diageo worked with Vice’s New York office to develop the documentary. Carat is the media agency, with Toronto’s Defyent handling media and artist relations.

The Sound Collective platform – which spotlights and supports up-and-coming electronic musicians – was launched by the brand’s global team two years ago has included a range of executions, from VIP concerts to live-streamed events. The notion of the platform is inclusivity, and past documentaries created for the platform have included looks at the struggles female DJs face worldwide and dancers who were attempting to overcome their own barriers.

Locally, the Sound Collective landed in Canada last year to help promote the launch of the Smirnoff Electric product line. The brand has worked with Defyent to bring Canadian electronic artists to music festivals and on-site to bars. Geoff Kosar, brand director for vodka and liqueurs at Diageo Canada, says over half of the brand’s consumption is in cities with populations under 100,000 people, and one of the benefits of using the Sound Collective platform in Canada is that it gives artists a way to get in front of audiences outside of the regular hubs of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

“Music is a huge part of our culture, especially our target market, which is legal drinking age up to 24,” Kosar says. “We’re providing support to the artists by bringing them to communities and areas they might not otherwise go, which our audiences in those towns are hugely appreciative of.”

Outside of nightclubs and festivals, Kosar says taking a digital approach to promoting creative around Sound Collective is in line with a broader focus at Diageo to shift more of its budget to digital channels to better reach its target. He adds that focusing on documentary-style content is also a way to forge a better connection with younger drinkers.

“A lot of content you see today is disposable,” he says. “To develop the kind of content our target consumers are interested in, you have to go a bit deeper. I think telling the story of an artist that gets really rich when you dig below the surface is an interesting way to bring the story to life authentically.”