Digital marketing has always been associated with visual power. Images in Instagram stick in the audience’s mind even before they read the first lines of copy, and videos have been recognized as effective messaging platforms. Still, image overload, the audience’s sheer love for music, and the human inclination towards conversation have birthed the success of podcasts along with Spotify and Apple Music. All these have laid the groundwork for sensory marketing. Mike Constantino, CEO of Homonym, which has positioned itself as a music agency, talks to esb电竞数据投注电脑版-Interactive about this trend, and why it is becoming essential in an image-driven age.

  MI: In a nutshell, how would you describe sensory marketing?  Is it music-centric or sound-centric, or does it focus on other marketing elements aside from music and sound? What are those elements? 

A: To me, sensory marketing means communications or sending messaging that's targeted to senses other than the usual visual senses - which is the sense that a marketer typically can easily tap. These pandemic times have amplified visual messaging since we're all on our devices pretty much all day, resulting in visual overload. So there's been quite the movement to explore other senses - the easiest of which would be hearing. Elements like music, voice-over talents, sound design, and sonic logos for audial cues confirming a transaction or prompting a call-to-action are the main elements we have fun with when creating sound-centric ads. For platforms that have some visual elements like YouTube or Spotify, usually, a simple graphic is added so there's something clickable if the listener chose to heed the CTA.

MI: Is this trend catching on in the Philippines?  Which industries are exploring this, and how? 

Audio Ads are really new and we are the first ones to be pushing it in the Philippines! It seems natural for us to be the ones to launch sound-centric ads, in partnership with platforms like Podcast Network Asia, Spotify , YouTube, and Tiktok. We launched our first ones some weeks back and the results are very very promising. We are working with an FMCG and a Pharma company to test Audio Ads further by experimenting on different combinations of the elements I mentioned above. It's interesting since a lot of brands do not have sonic identities here so we have to go through that first step of developing that with them first.

MI: We've all seen music and sound play important roles in videos and campaigns, from simple sound effects, a few musical notes, to an entirely new song narrating the entire story of the video commercial. How else does sensory marketing add to this? 

A: I think you are talking about multi-sensory campaigns wherein the combination of the video and audio is more deliberate and causal vs. just the usual marriage we see in visual content. A well-thought-out combination of sound and audio beats out a random song put to video every time. At Homonym, we believe in the effective combination of sight and sound wherein physiologically, sight targets the brain while sound targets emotions and thus elicit feelings. This is where our hashtag #Rhyme&Reason comes from! If you have an emotional connection with your target audiences because of a signature sound that's associated with your brand, then hitting them in the feels becomes much easier.

MI:  How can sensory marketing create more impact in a campaign in a way that other kinds of marketing cannot?  Can you give us a few examples? 

A: We've all seen how a well-curated song can make a spot go from humdrum to sensational. The problem though is that a licensed song is a "borrowed affinity" of a certain set of consumers that would relate to that specific song. Nothing is stopping another brand from borrowing that affinity for its own target audience. A good example would be Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve, which was used by Opel Astra in 1998, then by Nike in 2011, then by Walmart in 2020. Great to catch attention but a missed opportunity in really tying the brand in a long-lasting way to the emotions it wants to elicit from its audiences.

Locally, we are working on a project that started as an audio first approach - we were briefed by the agency about what feelings they wanted to elicit from the various target audiences then we took it from there. Using our signature process and combination of music psychology plus lots of research/data, we were able to come up with a score that we call Brand-harmonized and Audience-tuned. It fits the brand essence and is engaging for the target market. From that score, the director was inspired by how his visuals would be shot, lit, and edited. From that score, a certain scent is being crafted to associate with the on-ground experience of the customer. Then that inspires the textures in the on-ground experience that the customer can touch and feel. If the product could be licked, we surely would have thought of something music-inspired for the sense of taste, too!

MI: What platforms are you using to develop and promote sensory marketing? 

Right now, the audio space is the easiest to get into because it's affordable and fast to produce and there are so many podcasts with very specific audiences that we are looking at for our clients. And that's just for the creative side. Technological advances like Spatial Audio make the space very exciting to experiment with on the technical side of making an Audio Ad. Audio-centric platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are huge for us since everybody has earbuds on all day long.

Then there's what our friends from Google call "Screenless Experiences" - a habit that's big in the Philippines wherein the user is listening to YouTube without looking at the screen. "Study Playlist", "Workout Playlist", "Spa Playlist" - you're listening to your YouTube playlist as if it's your streaming platform and you cannot possibly see any visual messaging since you're away from your screen. Enter Audio Ads wherein you serve your message to them straight to their ears, not their eyeballs.

MI:  How else do you expect sensory marketing to revolutionize advertising as we know it? 

With the visual fatigue affecting everyone these days, our brains are craving for a respite or a break and audio slides right in. Because of the demand for audio-based ads, device manufacturers and developers are all taking note and launching their own stakes in that pie. Have you tried asking Siri, Google, or Alexa for things these days? It's lightyears away from just a couple of years ago when it was just call and response. Now, it's a conversation - and it's personalized just for your specific needs. Look up Conversational esb电竞数据投注电脑版 and you'll be amazed at the strides and possibilities for your brand. Remember when Chatbots were all the rage and every brand's Facebook page just had to have it? Watch out for the coming of Voicebots.

MI: What prompted you to start on this journey?  Why did you put up Homonym? What do you aim to accomplish in the PH? SEA? 

In 2016, when I was deciding what was next for me career-wise, I was exploring and collaborating with people I enjoyed working with. It just came to a point wherein my friends in the industry kept asking me for help to book artists, mount shows, look for a song for their campaign, or consult with them for their music marketing strategies. My wife, our lovely COO at Homonym, and I saw a gap and an opportunity in the market wherein we could link the music and business sides and help artists make a better living with their music - while helping brands and agencies with their various music concerns.

Now, artists know they can come to us if they need to get their music out there and monetize it. Now, brands and agencies and platforms know they can give us a call if they have any questions about the legal stuff behind the music if they need a music influencer, music data, a data-backed song produced or licensed, etc. Though we've had some merger/investor offers, we've been proudly self-funded and fully independent from day 1. Our focus right now is growing our Philippine business.

MI:  What were the challenges in promoting sensory marketing in PH?  How did you respond and overcome them? 

Music and Audio have always been secondary to visuals in the Philippines. More often than not, the commercial is shot and edited already and it's just passed on to the scorer to put music to, as an afterthought. Not too long ago, we were still having conversations with clients asking why they needed to pay for music for their ads. The stringent rules of platforms like Facebook and YouTube where the marketers launch their content, and the education drives of companies like ours, FILSCAP and Intellectual Property Office PH,  have helped us educate them about the value of music and why it is crucial in effectively reaching the hearts and minds of their audiences.

It's still an uphill battle but legislation like the Creative Industries Bill and the Freelancers Bill are a step in the right direction to ensure a better future for appreciating the value of music. On the artist side, we have a division called Hyphen that educates them about their rights and teaches them how to deal with clients who may not be familiar with intellectual property rights.

MI:  With musicality as one of the strengths of the Pinoy, how can you further build them to develop in this area?  What professionals can grow in this area, e.g. artists/musicians, video producers, content creators, etc.? 

This is a tough one since there are so many sectors that need to be covered and just a few of us pushing it. We have curated timely and relevant topics like The Importance of Sound in Branding, Beyond the Jingle: Audio Ads, Music & The New Intellectual Property Code, Music Influencer esb电竞数据投注电脑版, The Rise of Podcasts and many more that we hope will help educate and elevate everyone in the industry to reach for greater heights

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