RBC engages young fans with a music manifesto

H.E.R. leads an effort championing the creative diversity of Canadian musicians in the bank's "First Up" program.

RBC has teamed up with a Grammy winner to further its efforts to give Canadian musicians the opportunities and support they need to succeed in difficult circumstances.

In stark black and white, the latest campaign for RBCxMusic, “First Love,” conveys the message that there is no prerequisite for how artists look, where they’re from, how they identify, or what their musical genre should be, championing the creativity and diversity of Canada’s music scene.

The video features not only Grammy Song of the Year winner H.E.R., but other Canadian talent like Tafari Anthony, Mayfly, Keynes Woods, Töme, Sylo Nozra and Ila Barker, all of whom participated in the “First Up” virtual concert series last year.

The campaign launch coincides with the announcement that “First Up” will be returning, with applications opening on Nov. 1. Last year, RBC launched the “First Up” program under the RBCxMusic banner, a virtual performance series aimed at providing support to musicians who had live performances – and a major source of income and audience development – taken away from them during the pandemic. In addition to providing pandemic-friendly performance opportunities, emerging artists are also paid a stipend to participate in the program and receive additional compensation for other performance opportunities.

But instead of a basic call for entries, Matt McGlynn, VP of brand marketing at RBC, says the spot is instead meant to be an emotive manifesto that represents everything RBCxMusic stands for: acceptance, respect and equal opportunity for all artists.

“The heart of the program hasn’t changed since inception,” McGlynn says. “‘First Up with RBCxMusic’ was created in response to the challenging circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but our objective remains the same: to provide support and exposure for emerging Canadian creatives.”

It also builds on the message from a spot the bank ran during the Canadian broadcast of the 2021 Grammy Awards earlier this year, where it found that using its platform to provide exposure to national audiences could also be valuable to musicians, especially when combined with the performance opportunities and financial support.

McGlynn says the digital budget for this campaign is comparable to the Grammy campaign, and has plans to put additional media investment behind in early next year. H.E.R. also shared the spot on Instagram to her 4.8 million followers.

To back up its support of music, the bank also offers “elevated music experiences” to clients, such as early access and discounts on ticket, enhanced on-site experiences and exclusive events, thanks to a partnership with Live Nation Canada.

RBCxMusic is meant to reach a 15- to 29-year-old demo, and McGlynn says providing “opportunities” is a key part of all its efforts aimed at engaging that age group, including RBC Training Ground and RBC Future Launch.

Salt XC produced the digital content for “First Love” with RBC. McGlynn says creative agency, Trevor Peter, which helped the bank launch “First Up” continues to be an integral partner of the program. Rock-it Promotions handled PR duties, while RBC managed the buys in-house.