Is this whole branding thing going too far?
Mastercard is now going far beyond traditional sponsorships and artist tie-ins. They’re now becoming the artist.
The credit card company recently collaborated with songwriter and producer Niclas Molinder to create a new single. The project will expand to a full album incorporating Mastercard’s audio branding strategy it unveiled last year.
For the first song, Mastercard hired Swedish artist Nadine Randle to integrate the Mastercard sonic identity organically. The song debuted live at CES and is called “Merry Go Round,” which you can hear below.
Mastercard has integrated this sonic melody in more than 7.6 million payment POS systems worldwide. Research conducted afterward found that 77% of people felt hearing the sonic sound made the transaction more trustworthy.
“Merry Go Round” is the first single for an upcoming album released by Mastercard, due in 2020.
If you’re familiar with the new Mastercard sonic logo, you can immediately pick it out of the song. But what will this do for people who aren’t familiar with the chime? The creator of the famous Intel sound, Walter Werzowa, says this depends on how people engage with the brand’s music attempts.
“Is it relevant or authentic to see Nadine using [the sound] in an authentic way, not just a staged way, and if that happens, it will be successful. If not, it’s problematic.”
Sonic identity is becoming more critical to companies that engage with users primarily through audio. Pandora introduced its own sonic logo last year to capitalize on the trend. More brands are expected to follow, especially since podcast listening is on the rise in the United States.
Going so far as to release singles and a full-scale album feels a bit corporate, though, doesn’t it? Can you imagine if your best friend sat down next to you and said, “Have you heard the new Mastercard single?”
It’s already bad enough that concerts and music events are held in massive arenas sporting corporate names. You can never escape the ever-present feeling of a corporation looming over your shoulder.
Looking ahead, Mastercard ‘the artist’ is likely to tap ghost producers behind-the-scenes to create more content. A ghost producer is a music producer who makes music for other artists or brands, there are even ghost production platforms like Edmwarriors where you can find a catalog of songs that could be used in a variety of settings, including major branding campaigns like this one.