101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
Senior Vice President North America, Communications & Sustainability at Pernod Ricard
“While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience.”
Amandine Robin, Senior Vice President North America, Communications & Sustainability, Pernod Ricard
Amandine Robin assumed the role of SVP, Communications, Sustainability & Responsibility for Pernod Ricard North America in October 2016. In her current role, she manages both corporate and brand communications. Her goal: to enter iconic brands such as Jameson, Absolut, and G.H. Mumm into the cultural zeitgeist – from media, digital, to TV shows and movies.
Uli Reese: Let’s start by looking at the importance of music in branding…
Amandine Robin: When you think how branding has evolved from when all you had was newsprint in black and white, we are now able to connect with consumers on a completely different level. Music can give your brand a unique quality, particularly as consumers are increasingly engaging with their ears, not their eyes.
Reese: Is voice factored into your customer experience at Pernod Ricard?
Amandine: For some of our brands, it is paramount. Absolut Vodka is a great example where we’ve done several big integrated partnerships with Swedish House Mafia and more recently with the pop star Lizzo. In both of these cases, their newly released songs worked hand in hand with one of our newly released products. With Swedish House Mafia, it was the iconic “Greyhound” song and music video which was released simultaneously as our “Absolut Greyhound” bottle. In the same timeframe, Absolut also provided a unique experience to concert-goers as the band went on their world tour. With Lizzo, we connected with her just before she became the well-known pop artist she is today and partnered on her “Juice” song, which happened to coincide with our “Absolut Juice” product release.
Reese: How did you choose Lizzo and Swedish House Mafia for these campaigns?
Amandine: It’s not a linear process. It starts with culture and consumer insights. In the case of Absolut, it meant understanding what Gen Z and millennials care about: their frustrations, passions, and what is happening in their world at the moment. We have tools and teams dedicated to this process. From there, we see who can be the best fit. Lizzo was authentic, spoke her mind, stood for the same values we did as a brand. It was a perfect fit.
Reese: I can detect Absolut out of a million bottles but musically I have no clue what the brand sounds like, except that it associates with pop culture. Has Pernod Ricard ever thought about having a sonic identity?
Amandine: At the moment, we are doing an in-depth exercise for our brands to uncover their true, timeless, DNA: understanding what they were all about 50 years ago and what they will still be about in 50 years. From there, we can develop truly impactful timely campaigns based on human stories and insights. In that second stage, communicating these stories through visuals and sound will be paramount.
Reese: We are looking at $40 billion in sales in the screenless eco-system by the end of 2021. Is that relevant to Pernod Ricard?
Amandine: Absolutely. Music and sound are playing a much more important role in the new digital age. While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience. Not surprisingly, the most popular social media app right now is TikTok, which is based on music and sound. And of course, you also have all the new voice-based technologies such as Alexa and Google Home. They are all built on algorithms, so the question for us becomes: how do you connect with people through voice and be present when they search, look for you and your category?
Reese: Podcasts have exploded. Do you have a take on why visuals are moving over to audio?
Amandine: Having just had a baby, it was fascinating to learn that hearing is something humans already develop in the womb. Mothers are told to talk to their babies so they will recognise your voice when they are born. Music is also what will calm and soothe a baby at an earlier age, more than the other senses. It tells you that there is something very primal to audio.
“Music and sound are playing a much more important role in the new digital age. While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience.”
Reese: Do you think brands should have a brand book for sonic?
Amandine: Absolutely! The same way a brand currently has brand guidelines in terms of design, tones, values. We can expect that many brands will now think of creating brand “sonic” guidelines both in the digital and physical world.
Reese: Is there a brand you admire?
Amandine: As we are on the topic of sonic brands, I have to pick Apple, for two reasons. The first is how they have leveraged music for their iconic advertising: always leveraging up and coming artists that explode thanks to them. And second, most importantly, for how much the brand has moved audio forward – from the iPod to the new iPhone.
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