Charles Gadsdon, global director of growth EMEA, MassiveMusic on the importance of creating a sonic brand for TV sport.
In football, music is arguably just as important as the club badges, colours and nicknames. Whether the chorus of fans in the Kop singing the moving You’ll Never Walk Alone to the playful I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles at West Ham United, club anthems have been sung on terraces by generations.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that using music alongside the game has always been commonplace in broadcast.
Take the iconic Match Of The Day theme that has been the BBC’s soundtrack to Saturday night football highlights for 50 years. It was written for the programme in 1970 by Barry Stoller.
Ironically, Stoller himself admitted that he is not a football fan. His brief was simply to write ‘something good’ (which sounds exactly like a music brief from a client to me.)
Or the emotive strings of The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony on ITV before an England international.
If football is going to be played behind closed doors while we start to navigate our way out of this crisis, music is going to work harder than ever to evoke the passion and energy that we will no longer get from the home and away crowds.
What a void that will be.
Therefore, the familiar melodies and sounds that symbolise the start of football programming will matter even more.
There’s no doubt that it will be different – nothing can replace the spirit that legions of fans create. So what can still be heard before and after really matters.
That music will be marking the return of the beautiful game and ignite that memory bank and nostalgia for the world of old, for a game we’ve missed so much, for the connections it creates and the chatter amongst friends, the camaraderie of tribes, the energy and passion against rivals, the joy of winning and the misery of losing.
For broadcasters and the brands that advertise with them, there is an opportunity here for this meaning and connection to extend beyond this period.
Post-Covid-19, most brands won’t be able to continue paying six figure sums for recognisable songs to help in building their brand.
Instead, CPOs and CFOs will be looking at smarter ways to make existing equity work for them in the long-term or investing in more sustainable pieces of IP that could even generate additional revenue for the brand that never existed before.
In times of adversity and anxiety, people seek comfort in the familiar. Big brands that have developed relationships with consumers over long periods of time and have built that trust are now in a strong position. And for broadcasters in sport, it is now time to play that winning card.
When we think back to the unique and recognisable themes of sport, we remember Grandstand, Ski Sunday, Wimbledon and of course Match of the Day. The fact we have heard these themes so consistently, week after week or year after year means the power of this recall has a lifespan across generations. It holds a nostalgic place in many hearts and this can be created once again for a new generation in a new era.
In planning the next season, a season of new beginnings in a new and changed world, broadcasters have the chance to create new, distinctive and ownable music to drive new recall to their brand and, most importantly, continue to increase the positive experience with the viewer.
And by re-using this music and sound throughout its content, both broadcast and online, it becomes a valuable asset that becomes part of new memory structures.
Developing a truly holistic sonic experience for consumers across all touchpoints (social content, broadcast, live, etc.), and using it consistently, will not only increase the quality of these communications but will ensure recall to your brand as a broadcaster and differentiate you from your competitors.