Preserving creativity - no matter the cost

Brand must work together with agencies to maximise on creativity during the cost of living crisis

Chloe Heatlie

Music Producer MassiveMusic


The cost of living crisis is in full swing. Financial pressures are mounting – and marketing departments across the country are stretched beyond measure.

IPA’s latest Bellwether Report made for grim reading. 40.3% of companies expressed concern about the industry-wide financial situation. 2022’s ad spend forecast, previously set at 3.5%, has been slashed to 1.6%. Many brands will be tightening their marketing budgets – but this doesn’t come risk-free.

Brand marketers, despite trying to reduce overall spend, are unlikely to change their expectations from creative agencies – in fact, they need us more than ever. The desire to differentiate from competitors will lead to continued demands for exceptional campaigns – just at cut-price rates. Before long, this energy will be passed down the chain, with agencies requesting premium assets which fall well outside of usual pricing.

Brands need to trust their agencies to bring quality and cost together

Chloe Heatlie, Music Producer at MassiveMusic

Agencies and their supporting networks including production companies, music agencies and post production companies need to stand firm – being vocal about what they can realistically deliver is essential. But how can they work smarter and ensure that creativity continues to flourish?

Through thick and thin

Brands have never been afraid to push the boat out during times of prosperity. Signing-off on creative and somewhat-risqué campaigns is easy when the money keeps on pouring in as- the risk is minimised.

Unfortunately, creative boundaries can sometimes be limited when the purse strings are tightened – and the problem arises when effectiveness dips. Sound branding may sometimes be seen as disposable when it’s actually a great way to get marketing bang for your buck. The Ipsos’ Power of You’ study reports that sonic cues are typically more effective than visual assets leveraged from popular culture such as celebrities.

Playing it safe, however, should not be an option, and, as a producer that has worked with global brands, it’s a conversation I have regularly. Off-the-shelf library tracks may be easy to purchase and invariably cheap but they’ll do nothing for either the short-term or long-term impact of your brand and do very little for differentiation.

Marketers should constantly be asking the question: “Is this ad as effective as it could be?” Agencies and brands alike should feel empowered and prepared to push the boundaries. Investing in innovative, exciting audio is a must, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Leading creative agencies are full of skilled, experienced professionals passionate about producing work that emotionally engages with the target audience. They’re not trying to squeeze every last penny from your marketing budget for creativity's sake. Brands need to trust their agencies to bring quality and cost together.

And this realisation can’t come too soon, investing in effective creativity is vital.

Not to sound like a broken record but…

Investing in original music, working with specialist composers, is an opportunity to create something unique that can solely represent your brand for the duration of a campaign and beyond.

Music will be more effective when crafted for a brand based on the brands’ values and customer demographics combined with the aims of the campaign, not just plucked out of a library. For example, when actors learn the lines of a script, they have intentions for each and every line; they don’t just ‘play a mood’ across the entire script. Bespoke composition gives us the same flexibility to play each line, hit every point in the film in different ways. The longevity this provides makes it difficult to think of content that offers better value for money.

Brand marketers are finding it increasingly tough to cut through the noise. Out-of-home (OOH), social media, television ads are a staple part of everyday life. And whilst the temptation to cut costs is understandable, this isn’t the time to fall silent. Research Solutions’ research found that 87% of consumers expected to hear from brands as much, if not more during the current economic turbulence.

Music can resolve traditional pain points, such as brand awareness, brand image and reach, with little hassle. SXMMedia’a research uncovered that audio is 36% more memorable than video. With the cost of living crisis looming large, brands should be concentrating their efforts on standing apart from the crowd.

Audio is an inherent part of the creative process. Brands that want to improve the attention, memorability and likeability of their marketing campaigns shouldn’t hesitate on capitalising on music’s ability to trigger emotions in audiences.

Keeping the faith

Agencies are in the end-game. The cost of living crisis shows no signs of slowing down and it's only a matter of time before brand marketers clamp down on spending. There is, however, room for optimism.

Marketers – desperate to connect with audiences old and new – will recognise the need to deliver premium, innovative campaigns. Bespoke music is a central part of what makes these successful. And brands must recognise that these can’t be bought for a song.

Guest Author

Chloe Heatlie

Music Producer MassiveMusic


Chloe Heatlie is Music Producer at global creative sound and music agency, MassiveMusic