Ogilvy & Mather’s Music Marketing Panel Discusses Artists' Roles As Creative Directors

The stage was set at the packed Ogilvy & Mather Theatre in New York City Tuesday (Apr. 23) as five marketing heavyweights in the music industry discusses why musicians turn creative directors and what it means for their brands.

Panelists included Michael Freeman (Music Producer & Lead, Ogilvy & Mather NY), Chris Jennings (CEO, Chief Strategist, thntck. Corporation), Calle Sjoenell (Chief Creative Office, Ogilvy & Mather NY), Jeannette Perez (VP, Music for Brands, Advertising & Licensing, Sony Music Entertainment), and Russ Jones (VP, Promotions & Lifestyle Marketing, RCA Music Group) as moderator Karla Ballard (SVP Sr. Partner of the Impact Studio, Ogilvy & Mather) provided in-depth questions.

The recent addition of creative director to the résumés of Justin Timberlake (Bud Light Platinum) and Alicia Keys (Blackberry) sparked a dialogue on artists wearing different hats and how it impacts the role's responsibility.

“A person who sets the vision or gives some guidelines by which an organization, or a project, or a campaign can be executed in excellence so the outcome can be met for the particular brand,” said Jennings on his definition of a creative director. The CEO of thntck expressed that “you have to know how to use a celebrity instead of giving them the title of creative director.”

Other panelists in the record industry say they have taken a different approach to artists turned CDs.

“I have a problem when celebrities become creative director of something they’re really not good at,” said Sjoenell to a room full of laughter. The CCO said brands should avoid bringing on artists in this capacity unless they have a great purpose.

Perez added that brands are “really looking for someone who has extended the vision in his/her career to something else. You’re aligning yourself with somebody’s access.

“Bud Light Platinum may not have been able to reach certain artists and certain field executives before," the VP for Music for Brands, Advertising & Licensing said. "Now they’re able to by having Justin Timberlake walk through the door.”

A blend between brand ambassador and creative director is created once an artist assumes the latter role, Ogilvy's Freeman explained to the audience but said it’s important for those companies to set the guidelines and direction in the first meeting.

The panel discussion switched gears when audience members asked questions. The topic of Rick Ross' business divorce with Reebok stemming from the response to his “U.O.N.E.O” lyrics ignited the debate.

“I think it’s important for the brands to do their due diligence and find out what this artist represents, what their music is like, what their image is and then make your decision and your risk management from there if you want to potentially employ that person to represent your product,” Jones said. “I’m no music historian but I know Rick Ross’ brand and music and what he brings to the table and I know that he doesn’t necessarily have a wicked jump shot or can run three miles in five minutes so I don’t know what the connection is with Reebok and who he is, and who his base is and what they want from him.”

To avoid a risk management call-to-order, Perez said open communication is one of the keys to a successful partnership with musicians and brands.

“The brand’s perspective and their objective is to find a way to meet their outcome of selling products to be able to build the brand and to be able to touch consumers,” Jennings said. “There are people that define culture and those who are defined by culture.”

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Teyana Taylor Hints At Music Retirement, Says She Feels Underappreciated

Teyana Taylor is feeling underappreciated. Taylor hinted a possibly retiring from music in an Instagram post thanking fans for her music Spotify end-of-the year numbers.

The “Bare Wit Me” singer wracked up over 167 million Spotify streams, from 15.2 million listeners, across 92 countries. “I ain’t gone [sic] front in times of feeling super [underappreciated] as [an] artist, receiving little to no real push from the ‘machine,’ constantly getting the shorter end of the stick, being overlooked, I mean the list [goes] on and on lol,” she wrote on Friday (Dec. 4).

Taylor added that she’s “retiring this chapter of my story” with the comfort of knowing that she’s walking away with “peace of mind seeing that all the hard work & passion put in was indeed loved & supported somewhere in the world!”

She went on to thank her day one supporters and new fans. “I love you and I thank you for everything & don’t worry y’all know all hustlers have the understanding that when one door closes another will open.”

This isn’t the first time that Taylor has aired out her frustrations with the music industry. She put the Grammys on blast last month for snubbing female R&B singers, and previously spoke out about the mishandling of the rollout of her debut album, K.T.S.E.

Taylor’s last studio project, The Album, was released in June.

Read her full Instagram post below.


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A post shared by Jimmy Neutch- Shumpert (@teyanataylor)

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Letitia Wright Responds To Backlash After Post Questioning COVID-19 Vaccine

After catching backlash for tweeting a YouTube video questioning the ingredients of a COVID-19 vaccine, Letitia Wright went back to social media on Friday (Dec. 4) to explain her reasoning.

“My intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intension of posting this video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies. Nothing else,” wrote the Black Panther star.

my intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies.

Nothing else.

— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) December 4, 2020

if you don’t conform to popular opinions. but ask questions and think for yourself....you get cancelled 😂

— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) December 4, 2020

The criticism started after Wright shared a video titled, COVID-19 Vaccine Should We Take It?, on Thursday (Dec. 3). As the post began circulating social media Wright tweeted, “If you don’t conform to popular opinions but ask questions and think for yourself…you get cancelled.”

Wright also liked a tweet reading “Cancel Black Panther 2 immediately,” and another tweet calling for her character to be recast.

Wright, 27,  isn’t alone in being skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines. According to a Pew Research survey conducted in September, only 32% of Black Americans surveyed said that they would take the vaccine. Some of the distrust dates stems from the 1932 Tuskegee Experiment where hundreds of Black men were unknowingly infected with syphilis.

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Ashanti And Keyshia Cole Sign On For Verzuz Battle

Season 2 of Verzuz is already off to a good start. Ashanti and Keyshia Cole are next in line for a Verzuz battle, it was confirmed on Friday (Dec. 4).

The R&B stars will go up against each other for a “celebration of women empowerment” next Saturday, Dec. 12. The “Legendary Ladies Night” will be streamed on IG Live and Apple Music.

Yeah, it’s official! The paperwork is IN 🚨🚨 It’s a legendary Ladies Night on Saturday, December 12th with @Ashanti and @KeyshiaCole.

Which Libra you got?!

Saturday, December 12th, 5PM PT / 8PM ET. Watch on our IG or in HD on @AppleMusic.

Drinks by @Ciroc Merch by @NTWRKLIVE pic.twitter.com/UCWJvaEl0y

— Verzuz (@verzuzonline) December 4, 2020

Both multi-platinum selling singers have impressive stats. Ashanti’s catalog of solo hits include “Foolish,” “Rock wit U,” “Rain On Me,” “Happy,” and “Baby.” On the collaborative tip, the Grammy winner joined Ja Rule on singles like, “What’s Love?” and “Always on Time.”

She was also featured on Lloyd’s debut single “Southside,” “Into You” by Fabolous, and “Body on Me” with Nelly. And she of course wrote songs for Jennifer Lopez and more.

Cole’s breakout single, “I Changed My Mind,” dropped in 2004 and her career took off from there. The Oakland native boasts a slew of classic R&B singles like “(I Just Want It) To Be Over,” “I Should Have Cheated,” “Let It Go,” “I Remember,” “Heaven Sent,” “Love,” and “Trust.” As a featured artist, Cole appeared on Sean Paul’s “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me,” Young Jeezy’s “Dreaming,” and Diddy’s 2006 single “Last Night,” to name a few.

Although they’re technically going up against each other for Verzuz, there’s no beef between the two artists who previously collaborated for the title track off Cole’s 2012 album, Woman to Woman.

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