Ellie Goulding: making advertisers starry-eyed.

Recently, it seems like every time I watch a clip on YouTube, it isn’t long before Ellie Goulding’s face pops up in an ad. Not that I mind much, I’m more inclined to watch ads in the guise of songs or sponsored performances in their entirety than many other ads. If I like the song that is, and it seems advertisers are pretty confident people will like Ellie Goulding.

It all started in Christmas 2010 with John Lewis and Ellie’s now famous cover of ‘Your Song’. It’s hard to say who benefited more from that partnership, but John Lewis has taken that winning formula and used it every Christmas since. They have also released an album in collaboration with Save the Children, made up of the covers used during their Christmas advertising campaigns. Said Craig Inglis, Marketing Director at John Lewis, “artists want to do it…it is a reflection of a change of dynamics in the industry. We have record labels and artists approaching us which I never would have believed would have happened a few years ago.”

Then in 2011, Nike paired Ellie with her running shoes and she became the face for their Nike Women’s half marathon. They have continued their partnership with Ellie since; she will be taking part in the Washington half marathon this year, has dabbled in shoe design for Nike and will be releasing a remix of her 2010 Halycon album on April 15th this year, courtesy of Nike. This level of collaboration between a pop star and big-name company seems to be a relatively new thing. In the past many artists probably wouldn’t have gone near such contracts for fear of ‘selling out’. Ellie isn’t as edgy as they come, but nor is she a cookie-cutter pop princess and I have not yet seen any criticism of her ad appearances.

HP has obviously been paying attention. Ellie can now be seen in their ‘HP Connected music’ campaign, part of the company’s marketing turnaround in recent years. This campaign is a little different to the others though. John Lewis used ‘Your Song’ to emphasise an emotive and seasonal advertising campaign and Nike made Ellie’s ability as a runner the focus for their campaign, which allowed it to remain relevant. On the other hand, HP have simply organised and sponsored a showcase with Ellie and used clips of it as their ad campaign. While she is still relevant to HP Connected –a new platform which enables HP customers to listen to songs for free– in the sense that she is a recording artist, this link is not made clear during the ad. My first thought when watching the ad was just, what did her gig have to do with HP? The ad would make a lot more sense if this was explained.

Ellie also featured in fashion retailer, ASOS’,  2012 Christmas campaign, performing ‘Only You’ in her own spot. She even makes a cameo in the star-studded ‘beats by Dre’ campaign, although that isn’t so remarkable seeing as the product in question is made by a music producer and performer, and is a natural extension of the product.

The motivation behind these campaigns is smart. However, I wonder what it is about Ellie in particular, that so appeals to ad agencies. In untested waters, companies are understandably nervy about committing and Ellie is now a familiar face in new territory.  She is commercially and critically successful and what’s more, her songs are frequently remixed by dub-step and electro artists. Consequently, there’s a connection developing between her music and the digital industry. However, there is a limit to how many times she can successfully be wheeled out for online campaigns. There’s no doubt advertisers are starting to adapt to a changing industry, but it doesn’t take long for consumers to become desensitized to a technique. They will need to switch up singers if they want their campaigns to keep performing.

Further reading and quote source:

Marketing Week- HP looks to marketing to drive turnaround.

The Guardian- John Lewis, power of love.

Best Creative Ads- Music runs Ellie trailer.

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