But if you do enlist a popstar to promote your brand, make sure you get as much out of it as they do, says Giles Fitzgerald

For food retailers, Christmas is invariably the key moment to roll out a music campaign.

Traditionally, these efforts focus on artist endorsements such as Take That's snowball-throwing appearance for M&S last year. This year it's Waitrose's turn. The retailer's new Christmas TV spot features an exclusive version of the hymn 'How Can I Keep From Singing?', performed by 21-year-old classical singer Camilla Kerslake as part of a wider deal that will offer cross promotion of her debut album. In addition to the ad sync, the singer will also perform at several Waitrose-backed food events including the Taste of Christmas Festival.

Tesco is another chain utilising music in the pre-Christmas run. It recently decided to leverage the insatiable appetite for TV talent shows such as The X Factor by placing karaoke booths at 250 of its stores. The roll-out enables visitors to create DVDs of their performances.

Asda and Sainsbury's, meanwhile, have entered into record label licensing deals to create clothing ranges featuring lyrics from artists such as The Cure and The Jackson Five.

John Lewis has also just debuted its Christmas TV spot, which features an evocative reworking of Guns N' Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' by Swedish act Taken By Trees.

There's no disputing the power of a good ad sync deal. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest celebrity endorsements offer a greater ROI for the artist than the brand. In the digital music environment, where the emphasis for fans is now on creation, sharing and interaction, there are a number of household brands that are utilising wider, more considered and deeper alignments with music as part of their overall strategy. Coca-Cola gave creative freedom to the artists involved in its collaborative 'Open Happiness' single release, and Doritos recently put bands in the palm of consumers' hands via innovative new Augmented Reality technology.

The musical ad sync should be the beginning of a consumer conversation instead of the final word, rolling out across the full calendar. Otherwise it's all anticipation and no present for music fans.n

Giles Fitzgerald is the editor of Frukt Music Intelligence.

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