RBC’s music platform makes its Grammy debut

The bank shows what emerging Canadian artists have faced under lockdown as part of an "all-encompassing" youth strategy.


RBC has been focused on engaging its next generation of customers, and while one of the more visible parts of that strategy is ensuring they are prepared to enter the workforce, the bank is now trying to get the word out about its work related to one of that demo’s major passion points: music.

The 90-second creative “First Up with RBCxMusic” debuted during Sunday’s broadcast of the Grammy awards, and features musicians like Toronto’s Domanique Grant (above), Ottawa-born Ojibway hip hop and electronic artist Cody Coyote, along with Marylou Villegas, Josh Sahunta, Jeremie Albino, Avery Raquel, NOA and Devontée Woe, whose track “Godspeed” is used in the spot.

Each of the artists are participants of First Up with RBCxMusic, an initiative launched at the outset of the COVID pandemic, meant to support recording artists in different musical genres with marketing, mentorship and networking.

“What we try to do with music, is to find ways to connect with younger and new audiences, but the most important part of the platform is to bring exposure to emerging artists to give them a platform to keep growing,” says Mary DePaoli, executive VP and CMO at RBC.

Before it was deployed to help artists struggling without tours and live shows, RBCxMusic was founded as a youth engagement platform, producing music-related content and giving customers access to things like special ticket offers. Outside of the platform, RBC has also been associated with Drake’s OVO brand and Live Nation Canada. And DePaoli notes that mentors RBC brought into the progra, are homegrown success stories like Toronto singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez and Oshawa-born singer and actress, Lennon Stella, star of TV’s Nashville.

Focusing on a passion-point like music helps round out RBC’s youth strategy.

“We have an all-encompassing strategy around young people, helping them with skills and mentorship, work integrated learning, access to education, scholarships – all of this is captured under ‘Future Launch,’” DePaoli says, referring to a brand platform aimed at empowering the future workforce.

In the last five years, through RBC’s Future Launch initiative and it’s $500 million commitment to giving youth opportunities, it’s seen steady increases in engagement from youth and young adults, she says.

All banks are trying to innovate, DePaoli notes, as the competitive landscape is changing with new digital platforms coming in with different ways of managing money; part of the goal for the financial institution is to capture minds and attention against new entrants, she says.

The creative was developed by Salt XC. Another partner is Mississauga’s Metalworks recording studios, which has produced albums for Prince and Justin Bieber, and whose location was used for the spot.

The creative, for which the brand tried to source a good cross section of music and artists from across the country, will also feature social-first cutdowns on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

While Grammy Awards ratings have been slowly decreasing, DePaoli insists that the lineup from last night’s show was an attempt to rejuvenate itself, and that it’s still one of the biggest moments in music every year. The Grammy media buy was coordinated by partner Live Nation Canada with Rogers (the Canadian broadcast aired on Citytv) on behalf of RBC. Social buys are being managed in house.

Compared with previous campaign efforts, DePaoli says the bank put “good emphasis” behind this from a budget standpoint, as 90 seconds doesn’t come cheap, and a “pretty robust social buy,” she says.