TEXT OF INTERVIEW
KAI RYSSDAL: There's been an un-merger of sorts in the music world. After five years of on-again, off-again dealings, Sony and the European media company Bertelsman have agreed to go their separate ways. Sony's going to buy out Bertelsman's half of their joint venture, Sony BMG, it's called
Amid the scramble to find ways to make money in the era of digital downloads, the American music industry's discovering that what's old can be new and profitable again. Commercial jingles that were popular a generation or so ago are being used as fodder for today's Top 40 songs.
Douglas Caballero hosts a music show on Current TV. Douglas, good to have you here.
Douglas Caballero: Thanks for having me.
RYSSDAL: Going to do something that we don't usually do on a business and finance show. We going to play a little Name That Tune. So, let's play this clip and then we'll talk about it.
["Forever" by Chris Brown]
Ryssdal: "Double your pleasure, double your fun." We've heard that someplace before, right? Help me out here.
Caballero: Yes, we have. That is Wrigley's Doublemint gum. That is the slogan.
RYSSDAL: How did this become a pop tune? Because the last time I remember hearing "Double your pleasure, double your fun" it was some commercial 30 years ago.
Caballero: Yeah, they've had a lot of commercials. And, um, as of recently they haven't been doing that well. This particular song was brought together by two people in the -- not in the traditional ad game -- they're from more of the urban music and culture realm -- that's Jay Z and Steve Stoute from Translation Advertising.
RYSSDAL: Did Wrigley's say, "Hey, we've got this jingle. Everybody in the world knows it. Let's try to capitalize on that by making it a pop tune and build it from there"?
Caballero: Something like that. I think some of it had to do with the fact that they are trying to find their target audience. Because, right now -- their sales were flat in 2007 -- but as of recently this gum has appealed to more of an urban audience.
RYSSDAL: What's the marketing idea here?
Caballero: Well, this song makes you tap your toes, snap your finger, drive a little bit faster. The song is infectious. Allegedly, Chris Brown wrote it in 30 minutes -- which makes me very envious of someone who can write such a good song in half an hour. I think it's brand awareness. I think this is just the beginning. It's obviously been successful. The song was, as I checked last week, was Number 3 on the Billboard Top-100. So I expect to see more of these, moving forward. You know, they want to emulate the success.
RYSSDAL: Are they doing just Doublemint, or are they getting the whole spectrum of Wrigley brands there?
Caballero: They are doing somewhat of the whole spectrum. They've got Ne-Yo, who's another R&B singer, and he's doing Big Red. And they've got Julianne Hough, who's a country star, who started off as a dancer on "Dancing With the Stars," doing Juicy Fruit.
RYSSDAL: Do they know, though? Do the kids who are listening to this music know that it's all driven by Wrigley's and corporate America?
Caballero: As of now, I do not think they do, no.
RYSSDAL: What do you think the reaction would be? If we went out and stopped some kids out on the street here, would they say, "Oh, man..."
Caballero: I think a lot of younger people are very used to, or they're accustomed to advertising and their favorite icons being paired together, and so they're not as turned off by things like this now.
RYSSDAL: It's not like rappers and hip-hoppers haven't used commercial references in music before, though.
Caballero: Absolutely not. R&B music and hip-hop has definitely been the easiest conduit to advertising, but now those advertisers are making connections to the independent music world. You've got the new Converse centennial advertising that's going on right now. They're basically Pharrell, Santogold and Julian Casablancas, three of the biggest stars in the independent world, if you -- independent's probably not the best word to use these days . . . They made a song specifically for an advertisement that's actually a full song. And it's called "My Drive-Thru." It's pretty catchy. And it's very similar, although it didn't start off as a music video, it started off as a commercial.
RYSSDAL: Yeah, independent. Um, it's a little bit of being bought by The Man, right?
Caballero: Well, you know, at some point, with music sales being so flat, you've got to figure out how to make money as an artist. And this is one of the ways to do it. And as I said earlier, you know, younger audiences really don't have as much of an aversion of having their favorite icons being paired with brands these days.
RYSSDAL: Yeah. Douglas Caballero from Current TV. He hosts and produces a program there called the "Daily Fix." Douglas, thanks a lot.
Caballero: Thank you.