you invested in music?

*The following is an excerpt from the book Brands Win Championships*

In 2012, I led a team responsible for launching a series of new uniforms around our top adidas NCAA football programs. As part of that launch, I worked with our agency partner in Portland, Roundhouse, to develop video content to go out with each press announcement. As usual, the Roundhouse team came up with a concept I loved and one that tied seamlessly back to the brand tone we developed together for the year.

Leaning on my own experience as a fan, I was looking for content that felt more reminiscent of a music video, showcasing our beautiful uniform designs in a way that got people out of their chairs, versus speaking to the science and technology behind each creation. I wanted what the high school athlete was asking for. And we got it. Almost.

We still needed music. Whether it be for TV or for YouTube, I’ve always put emphasis on song selection. In my experience, a melody can make or break your work. A TV spot or digital video with the wrong music is like pairing a $10,000 suit with $5 sandals. The suit is ruined and so is the video.

In this particular instance, I was less worried about the name of the artist and more concerned about the sound. Did the song itself fit the tone we were trying to capture? Did it get me out of my chair, eager to put the pads on and hit someone?

Fortunately, after weeks of listening to potential tracks submitted to us by several music studios, I found it. Hidden between song after song was “Can’t Hold Us,” a title from a little-known duo out of Seattle by the name of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It was perfect. The beat, the hook, the message: it all worked and our community loved it. Over the years, the content I’ve worked on has consistently drawn as much praise for the music as the video itself. Music is the perfect way to bring in the ever elusive cultural currency all of us marketers, and the brands we work for, seek.

What I didn’t realize when I picked that song is that the little-known duo from the Pacific Northwest would go on to release two singles less than a year later that would reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart. One of those singles was “Can’t Hold Us.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis would later be nominated for seven Grammy awards, winning four, including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance.